Dick Costolo stepped down as Twitter’s CEO last week, and since then theories about who will lead Twitter next have flown throughout the Internet.
Costolo, on stage at the Bloomberg Tech conference, still didn’t have a good answer about who would be running Twitter next — and emphasized that there is an active search for a new CEO. He announced he would be stepping down as CEO of Twitter last week as the company began a new CEO search, with co-founder Jack Dorsey becoming the interim CEO. Costolo will remain on the board of directors.
In a question about skepticism about the search — about whether it’s a real search or not — Dick responded by saying the board was “legitimately doing a search, there’s a specific search committee on the board, also involving two of our biggest shareholders.”
Still, there have been murmurs that some are expecting Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and interim CEO, could take the role full-time. He basically built the product, drove the redesigns, and while he is the CEO at Square he’s actively involved in Twitter’s activities as a board member. When asked about whether Dorsey could be the next CEO, Costolo — on point while on stage as usual — did not have a direct yes or no to the question.
“Jack is obviously the inventor and co-founder, just as important and more importantly he has this fluency in the way he thinks about the product and its potential that’s almost remarkable,” he said. “We have dinner every Tuesday night where we think about the product. Jack has said this himself, this is about stepping into this role and letting the board do its work, and provide the space and time to do its work. He has this clarity of thinking about the product that doesn’t bring with it this conceptual baggage.”
So, not really a yes or a no, but that’s quite an endorsement for Dorsey’s abilities as a product visionary for Twitter. Costolo said he started the process around the end of last year. It was at the June shareholder meeting decided how to go about executing the CEO search, which the board decided to go about publicly.
“It was a three-hour conversation where we decided that we want to be able to do a full search for the right next leader, and if we try to do that behind closed doors it’ll be out there and it’ll be a bunch of nonsense and a distraction for the company,” Costolo said. “We decided, if we’re gonna do it in the open, we should bring Jack [Dorsey] in as interim, because if we didn’t, we thought it would be ridiculous — and I agreed with that.”
Two other names that have been thrown out as potential candidates are CFO Anthony Noto and head of revenue Adam Bain. Costolo, too, had pleasant things to say about them, and Noto in particular said he “did not bring in to be an accountant.” Bain, meanwhile, was described as one of the most energetic people he had met — for example, he stayed up all night planning a meeting while Costolo rested at an event in Chicago.
“I’ve got that leadership across the board,” he said. “One of the reasons that now would be ok to do this is we’re so confident in the team. Kevin [Weil] is at product, there are 6 or so people who have been at Twitter longer than me, he’s one. Alex Roetter is leading up engineering. The CEO has to have the leeway to do what they need to do. That strategy is in place, the team is in place, and until further notice we’re gonna continue down that path.”
Over and over, he brought up Periscope as one of Twitter’s big success stories. Twitter acquired Periscope in March this year and it has quickly become one of its fastest-growing assets. “The thing that’s important as CEO, is to put the right system together,” he said. “You develop a cohesive hole and you work backwards.”
“There’s this comic book notion of what [a good CEO is] like,” he said. “The reality is you have to be yourself, there are many ways to be successful. great leaders are both resilient and courageous, particularly in the face of external, ‘why are you doing this, why are you doing that,’ and they’re self-aware.”
Costolo, like many CEOs on the way out, said he would be taking some time off — though, standup comedy is probably not in the future: “I don’t think it would be a smart move to return to standup comedy.
“I can be heckled in real-time in the world.