Nick Bilton has a nice profile of Dick Costolo today in the New York Times. But perhaps the most intriguing passages, for me, had to do with his characterizations of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey, as CEO of Square and his product role at Twitter, has seen his reputation morph into Steve Jobs-like adoration among Silicon Valley geekdom. He is this year’s entrepreneurial golden boy.
Earlier this year, Business Insider hinted that Dorsey was spending a bit less time at Twitter, but not why. In this post by Owen Thomas, this seemed to be more driven by the fact that Costolo has a firmer hand on the tiller and Dorsey’s need to recalibrate his time at Square vs. Twitter:
“We haven’t gotten details yet, but we understand the ratio has shifted decisively in Square’s favor.
We think this makes sense. At Twitter, he has a strong CEO in Dick Costolo, who has steadied the ship after a long stretch of turmoil.”
Bilton’s source give a different take: Employees at Twitter are happy to see less of Dorsey. Why? Bilton writes:
“Mr. Dorsey’s role has since been reduced after employees complained that he was difficult to work with and repeatedly changed his mind about product directions. He no longer has anyone directly reporting to him, although he is still involved in strategic decisions.”
Also, while there is an emerging cult-of-personality cresting around Dorsey, in the Bilton story, Costolo notes that in meetings, Dorsey shows little sign of being a force:
“Mr. Costolo says he looks to Mr. Dorsey for ideas and sometimes has to pull them out of him. Although Mr. Dorsey is a regular on the media circuit, appearing on CNN, as well as “Charlie Rose” and other programs, he tends to be quiet in meetings.
‘Dick does a good job of saying “Jack, what do you think?” ‘ says Michael Sippey, director of consumer product at Twitter. Mr. Sippey works with Mr. Dorsey to make sure that new features are ‘Twittery.’
As an aside, let’s put “Twittery” on the list for most gag-inducing terms of the year.
Beyond giving Dorsey a knock, Bilton echoes recent Twitter leaks that revenue forecasts are rosy, and ahead of projections, though no word on those pesky expenses.
Finally, on the obligatory IPO mention, Bilton says insiders have a goal of 2014, as he writes:
“On paper, Twitter is valued at close to $10 billion. That means the most likely exit strategy for its initial backers — notably Charles River Ventures, Benchmark Capital,Union Square Ventures and Mr. Costolo himself — would be to take the company public.”
I would tweak that to say “most desired exit strategy.” Personally, I think the most likely exit for Twitter is an acquisition. The market no longer has the stomach for consumer-facing, ad-driven social IPOs. At this point, a Twitter IPO seems more like fantasy than reality.
(photo by Associated Press)