The hunt is on for Twitter’s next permanent CEO, after Thursday’s bombshell that Dick Costolo is stepping down.
Twitter has said it will consider both internal and external candidates, while co-founder Jack Dorsey temporarily takes the reins as interim CEO.
Twitter has said there is no timetable for choosing its next permanent CEO and it appears as if the company has not even selected a headhunting firm yet. But the tech world is already abuzz about how things might play out.
One former Twitter insider shared some interesting insights about some possible scenarios. It’s important to note that this is simply the source’s informed speculation, but it’s worth considering.
An acqui-hire CEO:
Twitter, according to Recode, has recently had acquisition talks to acquire Flipboard, a mobile newsreading app that is critically acclaimed for its slick design and product features but which has struggled to become a hugely popular app.
By acquiring Flipboard during the CEO search process, Twitter could kills several birds with one stone.
Twitter would fill a product hole by getting the Flipboard app, it gets a team of valued engineers (Flipboard currently has between 100 and 120 employees, not all engineers, according to the source) and it would get McCue, a veteran tech executive with proven product chops and operational experience within a large organisation.
(McCue previously was a general manager at Microsoft after it bought TellMe, his voice recognition technology company).
Once Flipboard was acquired by Twitter, McCue — who is a former Twitter board member — would become a Twitter employee. From there, the search committee would put McCue on the shortlist of CEO candidates and ultimately give him the job.
Why not just hire McCue outright as the CEO? Our source believes that McCue wouldn’t do it unless it included a face-saving option of his company being acquired.
So effectively, it would be a very expensive acqui-hire — Flipboard was reportedly valued at $US800 million during its last fundraising in 2013.
Of course, Wall Street might not be very pleased with a CEO hire that costs hundreds of millions of dollars and which saddles the company with additional costs in the form of an extra 100 employees, even if they are well-regarded engineers.
The Bain conundrum
Meanwhile, there’s another potential issue as Twitter searches for its next CEO.
Many people inside and outside the company have fingered Twitter head of revenue Adam Bain as the natural internal candidate. Bain is responsible for building Twitter’s free service into a money-making business, he has demonstrated smart product vision and he is well-liked within the company. The only knock against him is that he’s from the business side of the company, and many people feel that Twitter needs a product person at the helm.
The problem is that if Bain throws his hat in the ring, and either doesn’t make it to the short list of CEO finalists or makes it the final cut but is then passed over for someone else, he might leave the company. Twitter would lose its money-man, which would be a very big loss.
“It’s a Ross Levinsohn no-win situation,” said our source, likening it to the well-regarded Yahoo sales executive who left the company after losing out to Marissa Mayer for the CEO job in 2012.
Mayer has made improvements rebuilding Yahoo’s products since becoming CEO, but the company’s sales have been stuck in a rut for years.
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