Twitter’s CEO Evan Williams heads for the benches and an early bath. Was he pushed, or did he decide that he couldn’t face being played by Jesse Eisenberg in the inevitable Twitter follow up to The Social Network?
Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has stepped down as chief executive in order to focus on “product strategy” in a move which sees Dick Costolo, until today the company’s chief operating officer, promoted to run the business.
In a posting on the Twitter blog, Williams, who founded the social networking site with Biz Stone, indicates that Costolo’s promotion is part of a second phase of Twitter’s development, in which it will shift from being a startup to a company that can make substantial amounts of money – and possibly aim for a stock market flotation in a few years’ time.
William says Costolo, who was brought on board in 2009, has proved a “strong complement” to himself. “During his year at Twitter, he has been a critical leader in devising and executing our revenue efforts, while simultaneously and effectively making the trains run on time in the office.”
Costolo is formerly chief executive of Feedburner, a web data company that was sold to Google; he then worked at that company before becoming an investor in Twitter with a m input in 2007 which also gained him a seat on its board.
Rumours last week suggested that Google might try to buy Twitter, an idea played down by search analyst John Battelle who said that the idea was wrong because Twitter would not sell. Williams and Stone have already sold one company, the blogging company Blogger, to Google in 2000 and would have no wish to do so again when they could build a bigger company.
In the posting, Williams says: “Growing big is no success, in itself. Success to us means meeting our potential as a profitable company that can retain its culture and user focus while having a positive impact on the world. This is no small task. I frequently reflect on the type of focus that is required from everyone at Twitter to get us there.”
Williams says he will personally focus on product strategy: “I am most satisfied while pushing product direction. Building things is my passion, and I’ve never been more excited or optimistic about what we have to build.”
Twitter has been making money, which is still free to users who want to register, by a number of methods since late last year. First in October it offered search access to its stream of millions of “tweets” to the search engines Google and Bing.
Then in April it began offering “promoted tweets“, which turn up when people search for related topics. It also has a scheme for promoting products paid for by advertisers and promoted accounts which are suggested to people when they sign up or look for new people.
Together, those are reckoned to bring in substantial revenues for the company, which now employs 300 people, has 165m registered users and handles 90m tweets per day.
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