After less than a year on the job, Twitter’s VP of engineering left the company last week.
Mike Abbott will become an entrepreneur in residence at Benchmark Capital.
Twitter put a happy face on the move, trotting out Benchmark’s Peter Fenton – also a Twitter board member – to extol the work Abbott did during his short stay.
But a source close to Twitter employees tells us Abbott was “pushed out” and that the move has been talked about inside the company for a while.
“I think he made a lot of promises to people that he just couldn’t keep,” says this source, who lists “several failures” under Abbot’s watch, including:
- A multi-million dollar data centre snafu,
- Inefficiencies costing millions on servers
- New Twitter never stabilised
- Search languished,
- Photo-hosting had to be done through Photobucket
A second source confirms that Twitter has had these engineering issues.
The first source says that Twitter already has Abbott’s replacements lined up.
“They’re going to restructure senior technical leadership and have a VP for product engineering, a VP for infrastructure, and a VP of operations.”
That VP of operations will continue to be Mazen Rawashdeh, who joined in March.
The infrastructure VP is thought to be someone from Google.
All of this turnover is nothing new for Twitter, which has not retained a single member of its founding team or senior staff except for Jack Dorsey – who spent a couple years in a forced exile from the company.
This all sounds very bad, but it’s important not to blow it out of proportion. Startups that remain independent and reach a certain scale tend to go through this kind of turmoil. Groupon is also going through it right now. Facebook did a few years ago. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple only to come back years later.
We’ve reached out to Twitter PR on this story, but in the past they’ve told us this is not the kind of story the company will comment on. If that changes and we do hear from them this time, we’ll update this post straight away.
Our sources asked to remain anonymous because they have working relationships with people in Twitter management and telling us this kind of stuff might poison those relationships.
Update: A source close to Twitter says this story doesn’t give Abbott enough credit. This source says Abbott got a lot done in a little time, but that his biggest accomplishment was hiring a large engineering team.
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