Twitter will once again be on the hunt for a seasoned tech CEO after current chief Dick Costolo announced he will step down on July 1st, the company said in a press release issued on, where else, Twitter.
Co-founder, chairman of the board and noted egomaniac Jack Dorsey will temporarily take over the CEO role while the company hunts for a new boss, although he will continue to run credit card payment company Square during the transition. Costolo will remain on Twitter’s board of directors.
The announcement comes after the company became involved in some controversies recently, among them piracy of the Mayweather/Pacquiao title fight using the company’s new Periscope video streaming app and sustained problems with trolling and bullying on the service.
The company has been criticized for not responding fast enough or effectively enough to the bullying issue, although it released a blocklist sharing tool just this week aimed at allowing users to share lists of known trolls.
Costolo agreed with the latter charge in leaked memos obtained by internet blogs.
“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” he wrote. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”
Costolo said that the issues were “nobody’s fault but mine”.
And while Twitter might be able to do more, under Costolo's leadership the product remained one of the few in Silicon Valley to remain relatively uncompromising on user rights and freedom of expression.
Rival Facebook has become a puritanical platform noted for its uncontroversial nature and lack of diversity in opinions. The latter phenomenon has been the subject of a number of academic studies, finding that its censorship combined with its real names policy effectively stifle open, honest speech.
Twitter continues to flourish in that respect, although with freedom comes trolls.
Under Costolo's leadership, Twitter made six acquisitions, leading to two hit products: Vine and Periscope. He also more than doubled ad revenue in the last year and was well regarded by staff and the board of directors during his tenure.
“I am tremendously proud of the Twitter team and all that the team has accomplished together during my six years with the company”, Costolo said in the press release.
“There is no one better than Jack Dorsey to lead Twitter during this transition. He has a profound understanding of the product and Twitter’s mission in the world as well as a great relationship with Twitter’s leadership team.”
Dorsey in turn commended Costolo’s “dedication and vision”.
Yet the move is surprising and likely speaks to a sudden discord between the board and its CEO. As recently as two weeks ago all members were said to be 'in sync', yet clearly something has changed.
Investor confidence in Twitter has been low recently, resulting in a declining share price. The company’s stock spiked in after-hours trading from $35.75 to $39.29 upon hearing the news.
The challenges for its new CEO remain daunting as ever. Despite 255 million global users it still lags well behind Facebook in ad revenue In 2014 the company accounted for less than 1% of the $145bn spent on digital advertising worldwide in 2014. Facebook controlled 7.93% of the market last year.
Former co-workers praised Costolo on the platform, using the hashtag #ThankYouDickC.