'People Are Losing Confidence In Him': A Brutal Takedown Of Dick Costolo's Reign At Twitter

The Wall Street Journal has published a long, detailed and at times brutal anaylsis of CEO Dick Costolo’s reign at Twitter. Seriously, go read the whole thing if you care about the fate of world’s best platform for sharing news (and why it seems to be treading water compared to the meteoric rise of Snapchat and Instagram).

If you follow Twitter closely, you’ll notice little in the story that is specifically new. What the article does instead is put together the entire jigsaw in one place: And when you see the complete picture, it’s harsh:

• A vague and difficult to understand description of Twitter’s audience as a series of “eccentric circles.” (Does he mean concentric circles?)

• Costolo wants to emphasise Twitter’s wider, non-logged in audience (i.e. on news pages that have embedded tweets) to avoid comparisons to Facebook. But talking about the larger size of the Twitter audience invites comparisons to Facebook’s even larger off-platform audience.

• Endless management turmoil, much of it triggered by Costolo himself (especially when he hired one of his friends, Michael Sippey, to run the product team, who later left the company).

• This bit is especially worrying: “In all, the CEO has replaced or lost five direct reports since the IPO. Last week, he named Twitter’s fifth head of product in as many years. Its most recent vice president of product, Daniel Graf, who came from Google Maps and was handpicked by Mr Costolo, lasted less than six months in the post.”

The stock has fallen from around $US55 in September to around $US40 now. So the scrutiny is warranted. Walter Price of Allianz Global’s Technology Fund has reduced his position in Twitter, he told the Journal: “People are losing confidence in him.”

In the meantime, here’s my take on the way people mostly misunderstand why Twitter is so interesting and so important.

Disclosure: The author owns Twitter stock.

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