Twitter’s transformation from startup to power player has hit its rocky adolescent stage. In the past six months, more than a dozen high-level employees have departed. The sudden exodus set Silicon Valley chattering: What’s going on at Twitter?
Company insiders say the old guard is being wiped out by Twitter’s new leadership team. They also say that’s probably a good move. Struggling and stagnating, Twitter needed to have a bolt of lightning shot through it, according to those with a close-up view of the company’s transition.
Twitter a year ago was a “headless dragon,” a former member of its product team says.
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Co-founder Evan Williams had just handed the CEO title over to operations head Dick Costolo, and product chief Jason Goldman, one of Twitter’s first employees, was on his way out the door. Their absence created a leadership vacuum. Twitter had a group of product managers with no clear hierarchy and no overarching vision.
That changed in March, when Twitter lured exiled co-founder Jack Dorsey back to run its product development. Now nine months into his reign, Dorsey is clearing the field.
“It’s pretty much getting Ev’s old people out,” says one well-connected observer. “Either you’re going to choose to get out or it’s going to happen anyway.”
Departures are inevitable as startups age and evolve. Twitter turned five this year, and its staff has expanded from around 100 people two years ago to almost 800 people today. Its audience also skyrocketed. The site supports more than 100 million active users, who fire off 250 million daily tweets.
But the speed and depth of Twitter’s staff purge caught many by surprise — including some of the company’s own employees. The list of those who have left in the past few months includes engineering leader Mike Abbott, consumer marketing head Pam Kramer, chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury, four top product managers, Tweetie creator Loren Brichter, media partnerships executive Robin Sloane, and Twitter’s head of PR, Sean Garrett.
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