Murky answers to straightforward questions.
Twitter co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey.
Mary Altaffer / AP
You can learn a lot from the things people don't say.
Soon-to-be-former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and his interim replacement, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, jumped on the line with BuzzFeed News this morning to discuss Costolo's resignation. It's a time of uncertainty for Twitter; the executive suite change is amplifying talk of a potential takeover and the company's seeming disconnect with Wall Street. But the two transitioning leaders, when asked outright about both issues, hardly gave definitive answers.
Though Costolo wouldn't acknowledge Wall Street ire as a possible reason for his departure, he has been under fire for not delivering the user and revenue growth many investors believed they were signing up for when Twitter went public in 2013. Asked if he might have set investor expectations too high at the time, Costolo punted. “I don't think that's our concern to be frank,” he said, before diving into a discussion of the product.
Wall Street values Twitter at more than $ 23 billion, yet the company only brought in slightly over $ 1.4 billion in revenue in 2014. Investors clearly expect better from Twitter and may press for additional change if those expectations aren't met.
One possible change: a takeover. Asked if Twitter might be better off being acquired by a larger company, Dorsey responded with a pre-rolled PR bullet point about Twitter independence. “We do have a fiduciary obligation to make sure that we're maximizing shareholder value and we believe that there's every reason we should be able to do that as an independent company,” he said. “That is what we're optimizing for and that's what we're pushing.”
As for Twitter's product, there are some changes in the pipeline — the question is, how dramatic? Costolo said Twitter's goal has always been to build a product that appeals to a broad range of users and quickly evolves newbies into power users. “We want to deliver a product experience that works both really well for those core users who delight in it today and also makes it so much easier for new users to jump in and get the product right away, [and become] core, heavy users,” he said. “We think that's possible. We have products that we're working on right now to achieve that, and those have begun to roll out and will continue to roll out over the course of the year.”
Since announcing his departure, Costolo has talked about how much he loves Twitter (his goodbye email to Twitter employees contained the subject line “#LoveWhereYouWork”) and his happiness with its performance, which is somewhat odd for a man who just quit his job. When asked about his personal reason for leaving, Costolo offered up this dusty corporate chestnut: more time with family. “This is just going to be some time for me to get some time to spend with my kids, having achieved so much of what we originally set out to achieve and with still so much ahead for the company,” he said.
Though Costolo is stepping down, he appears ready to continue to play an active role in the company. “I'm going to be still on the board. I'm going to be involved of the company,” he said. “Our new Atlanta office space is opening in September, I'm still going to be out there for that. I'm going to stay close to the company. I love everything about it.”