On his first day as COO at Twitter, Dick Costolo, a former improvisational comedian, sent out his first tweet: “First full day as Twitter COO tomorrow,” he wrote. “Task #1: undermine CEO, consolidate power.”
Dick Costolo’s brief work history
Dick Costolo, fresh from selling his start-up for $100 million, was appointed as COO at Twitter by Evan Williams, then CEO at the social media site, according to the book, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal, by New York Times reporter Nick Bilton, to be published next month.
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Williams was later ousted because Twitter’s board, and its “silent” chairman, Jack Dorsey, thought he could no longer manage Twitter’s rapid growth. By September 2010, Dick Costolo was picked as interim CEO, and Dorsey was taking a more active role and would soon become executive chairman. In a way, the board acknowledged Dick Costolo’s many contributions to the company such as arranging $25 million through deals with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), as well as connecting with the employees.
Twitter’s persistent technical glitches
Dick Costolo, soon anointed CEO, sorted out many of Twitter’s persistent technical glitches and is credited with taking the company into the next league through tie-ups with television and his single-minded focus on how to turn Twitter profitable. His efforts have made the company reach an estimated market value of $16 billion, with an IPO on the anvil.
In many ways Dick Costolo’s tweet quoted above proved prophetic.
Yet, not many know that he was almost fired by Twitter just weeks before becoming CEO.
Bill Campbell told to fire Dick Costolo
In an incident in September 2010, which was similar to many such internecine power battles and ousters at Twitter, legendary Valley adviser Bill Campbell is said to have told the board that Dick Costolo should be fired. Campbell would have none of suggestions that the issue be debated further, and instead unilaterally informed Costolo that he was being removed and to contact the company’s lawyers regarding his severance.
Fortunately for Twitter, that decision was soon reversed by the Board and Dick Costolo took charge as CEO on October 4, 2010.
The rest, of course, is history.