Another day, another Tweetstorm by Chris Sacca about Twitter’s CEO situation. His tune is the same, with the volume turned up ever so slightly. Most importantly, the signal he’s sending out is very similar to an S.O.S.
Since July 1st, Twitter’s interim CEO has been Jack Dorsey, and the chatter around who would be the next permanent CEO, succeeding Dick Costolo, has been nonstop. The chatter is fair because the situation is odd: Co-Founder and former CEO returns as interim CEO while being the CEO of another company.
I’m sure that if one of the board members came out of the board membery room they sit in once in a while, they’d say “There’s a process and we’re going through that process.” But we’re talking about a company and product that is built on real-time and freely flowing information. Basically, the opposite of whatever “process” is happening right now behind closed doors. I’m sure that both outside and inside candidates have been interviewed until the cows come home, but no decision has been made. And if you think it’s dragging on, how the hell do you think the most important people, the employees, feel about it?
This. Is. A. Distraction.
No matter how much support Dorsey gets because of his co-founder status, there’s still an interim at the beginning of his title. Interim is the opposite of permanent. Permanent breeds confidence and cuts down on distractions. You get the picture.
What happens when employees are distracted and the future is uncertain? They start spending more and more time wondering when it’ll be less distracting and more certain. The new ideas they have and the excitement about what the company is doing slows down. There’s a bit more stress. While they’re thinking about all of that, the phone is ringing off the hook and the emails are piling up in the inbox. Who are they from? Recruiters. Probably the same recruiters that some of the employees have fought off before with “Hey, no thanks, I’m in a great spot right now.”
The pitch of “Hey, you don’t have a CEO right now and the stock isn’t doing so hot” starts sounding more and more like how employees feel. “Yeah, they’re right. What if we never bounce back?” A few streets over at Uber, recruiters for all types of positions are lighting up those phones and inboxes. One person familiar with the situation calls it a “scraping of talent” from Twitter. That’s not good.
So sure, there’s a process. And that process is clearly none of the media’s business or Twitter’s users’ business, or even their cowboy investor’s business. But it’s sure as hell those valued employees’ business. And even the best companies in the world at internal communications lose pockets of great people because of internal chatter, rumors and frustration. That’s exactly what’s happening right now, multiple people familiar with the company have told me.
Now sure, hiring a permanent CEO isn’t going to fix all of Twitter’s problems. Even if they do keep Dorsey on full time, there will be questions about also running Square, or a subtle reminder of something he didn’t do correctly during his first tour of duty…but it’s a start. It can help Twitter triage any damage this whole thing has caused.
Yes Twitter is “different” than most companies and Twitter employees are “different” than most employees, but we’re all human. Eventually people just get tired of not knowing what they feel like they should know. And they leave. Or worse, never come in the first place.
We don’t know half the story of who has left the nest — I’m sure there’s tons of engineering and marketing talent that don’t make headlines. But that damage causes corrosion and that corrosion kills execution.
It’s the exact opposite of what’s going on at Facebook, which is executing at a super high level, attracting talent, hiring executives that have in the past or could in the future run their own company. Google even took a step back with its Alphabet approach to make sure that it keeps its growing talent pool full of great minds.
Facebook is a well-oiled machine and Twitter is rumored to be chasing its publishing strategy. Wouldn’t an Uber recruiter email look good to you right now if you were the latter?