Twitter’s COO Ali Rowghani is out. He just tweeted the following:
Goodbye Twitter. It’s been an amazing ride, and I will cherish the memories.
— Ali Rowghani (@ROWGHANI) June 12, 2014
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted back at him:
Rowghani joined Twitter from Pixar. Initially, he was Twitter’s CFO, and he successfully led the company’s IPO.
Last year, however, he was given the responsibility of leading user growth and product innovation. Twitter’s user growth has been lackluster, and so has the product innovation.
Twitter’s stock has been hammered due to weak growth. How weak is growth? Facebook, with over a billion users, is adding more users on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Apple, which sells $US600+ devices, added almost 3X as many new users in Q4 and Q1 combined as Twitter.
Kara Swisher at Re/code reported last night that this could be happening. She said Rowghani had been stripped of his power to oversee product after Twitter’s failures to grow.
Rowghani made missteps beyond failing to grow.
He sold 300,000 shares of Twitter for $US9.9 million when the lockup period ended. The rest of Twitter’s major executives and investors committed to holding their shares, but Rowghani sold. Swisher says employees asked about this at an all-hands meeting and Rowghani said he wanted to give money to group doing research to battle a disease that killed his father.
Another thing that bothered people at Twitter was that Rowghani had a glowing profile in the Wall Street Journal just before Twitter’s most recent earnings report. In that profile, an anonymous employee called Rowghani the “co-CEO”. Swisher says top management and board members didn’t care much for this description, and thought it was inaccurate.
Neither of those things would be all that bad if Twitter was growing, but it’s not.
Growth and product innovation is now the responsibility of Twitter’s VP of Product Daniel Graf, who reports into CEO Dick Costolo.
Twitter has a history of executive turmoil. Jack Dorsey was the original CEO, then he was forced out of the company so Evan Williams could take over. Then Williams was forced out so Costolo could take over. Costolo has been CEO since 2010.
The stock is down 1.4% in pre-market trading on the news.
Eric Hippeau, formerly CEO of Huffington Post, and currently a VC had this take on it, “Twitter COO has resigned: when things go bad, COO usually the first to take the blame. COO usually not a viable role and position.”
In the company’s filing, Twitter says, “Effective today, Ali Rowghani has resigned from his position as the Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) of Twitter, Inc. (“Twitter”). Mr. Rowghani will continue to be a Twitter employee and act as a strategic advisor to the CEO. Twitter does not intend to hire a replacement for the COO role, and all of Mr. Rowghani’s operating responsibilities will be assumed by other members of the Twitter management team.”