Vivek Wadwha, the writer whom Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called “
the Carrot Top of academic sources,” demanded a “formal apology” for the remark today in a column in the Wall Street Journal.
Costolo made the remark when Wadwha was quoted in the New York Times criticising Twitter for the fact that its board of directors is composed entirely of white men, and the only woman on its management team — general counsel Vijaya Gadde — had the job for just five weeks before the company filed its IPO.
Here’s Wadwha’s demand in full:
Yes, Costolo’s comments were inappropriate and he owes me a formal apology. But I don’t for a moment think that he is overtly sexist or that he deliberately discriminates. I think that he is reflecting a common behaviour in Silicon Valley, where power brokers proudly tout their “pattern recognition” capabilities. They believe they know a successful entrepreneur, engineer, or business executive when they see one. Sadly, the pattern is always a Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Jeff Bezos — or themselves. Nerdy white males.
Note that Wadwha backhandedly calls Costolo a “nerdy white male.”
The flap is unlikely to derail the IPO in any way, of course.
But it does serve as a distraction to Twitter and its staff. And, despite the colorfulness of the insults being traded, Wadwha actually raises a good point: It is really weird that Twitter’s upper management can only find white guys to work with.
Costolo’s problem is that he’s now between a rock and a hard place. If he refuses to diversify his management he looks inflexible, and solidifies his status as tech’s most important current sexist (take it from us, we’ve been there). If he does make changes, it looks like pandering.
For the record, there are plenty of females with impressive social media and adtech resumes. Here’s a list of 28 of them, four of whom are CEOs.
And here’s the Costolo tweet heard ’round the world: