WHY NOW: Dick Costolo explains why he stepped down before a new CEO was named

Jack dorsey dick costoloLucas Jackson/ReutersTwitter CEO Dick Costolo (L) and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey walk the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during Twitter’s IPO in New York, November 7, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Twitter announced today that CEO Dick Costolo is stepping down and that cofounder Jack Dorsey will take the role in the interim.

Although investors and analysts have spent the last several weeks chattering about replacing Costolo, the announcement comes at an interesting time, since Twitter hasn’t picked a permanent replacement yet.

Also, these kinds of announcements often happen during a company’s earnings report.

During a press conference to discuss the news, Costolo said that he first broached the subject of finding a CEO to succeed him with the board at the end of last year.

Then, during the most recent board meeting in February, Twitter decided that the time was right to start looking for a candidate, in part because of the strength of the rest of management.

“We’re making this public announcement prior to naming a permanent CEO and in fact at the very start of the official search because we want to be open about our search for Twitter’s next long term leader,” Costolo said in a prepared statement. “We also want to attract the best possible candidates and not distract the organisation with the inevitable speculation and rumours that would obviously occur if we were to attempt to conduct a CEO search privately.”

Later on the call, several people continued to press him on the “why now” question.

He reiterated that Twitter’s management team was stronger than ever, and that he and the board realised there was a “unique opportunity” to bring Dorsey back on board, since he’s “an innovator” who been an integral part of the company since the beginning.

Despite that eye for innovation though, Dorsey said that from July 1, when he starts as CEO, until the company selects a new exec, he doesn’t plan on changing Twitter’s product strategy or vision at all. He also said that Costolo stepping down had nothing to do with Twitter’s near-term financials.

That response again surfaced the question, then why bother having Costolo step down before picking a permanent successor?

“I personally felt like the scrutiny of the company would intensify if I remained CEO while the search process was ongoing and as such I thought it would be a distraction for the company,” Costolo said. “And, frankly, I didn’t think it was in anybody’s interest to have that distraction.”

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