Dick Costolo, the newly appointed chief executive of Twitter, has told The Telegraph that he has no plans to sell the site, despite his record of selling start-ups to big players.
Costolo, prior to joining Twitter, was the co-founder and chief executive of Feedburner, a digital content syndication platform which he sold to Google for a rumoured $100 million in 2007 and prior to that, he sold SpyOnIt, a web page monitoring service, to 724 Solutions in 2000.
However, he has denied claims that his promotion from chief operating officer to chief executive, taking over the role from Evan Williams, means that the company is being prepped for a sale
At the start of the week, Twitter announced that Evan Williams was stepping down as chief executive, in order to focus on the site’s product strategy. His official job title has changed to co-founder.
In his first interview with The Telegraph, since being appointed chief executive, Costolo, said: “No, I am not prepping Twitter for a sale…there really is no distinction between the way Ev [Williams] and I think about the company. We both want Twitter to be a successful independent company. We’ve both done that selling a start-up thing to big companies like Google, and don’t want to do it with Twitter…[Williams sold Blogger to Google in 2000]. Both Ev and I are Twitter board directors and Ev remains Twitter’s largest shareholder.”
Costolo refused to reveal what his shareholding in the company is, saying that was “one of the perks of remaining a private company”. He also flat-out denied that since the news of his promotion, that the likes of Facebook and Google had been in touch with buy-out offers.
When asked for his vision of what Twitter’s long-term future holds, he replied: “We view Twitter as this global real-time information platform. We want this to be a long-living company that has a profound impact on the world… we want Twitter to change the way people communicate. We have a truck-load of work ahead of us but we have no plans to sell out and think of Twitter as being a communications platform for a long time to come.”
Costolo denied that his promotion to chief executive meant a more aggressive focus on Twitter making money, or that it was indicative of any leadership weaknesses Williams may have
“We have just had a very successful product launch [the Twitter redesign], which was driven by Ev [Williams]. So we want to put him in a position to do what he does best which is product strategy... leaving me to look after the operations side of the business such as finance, HR [human resources], sales and marketing, which will all fall to me.
“Ev wants to solely focus on product and this move will allow him to do that.”
Costolo denied the assumption that it has been him solely looking after the commercial side of Twitter since joining last year, while Williams has solely looked after the product. He said: “Ev [Williams] and Jason Goldman [head of product development] think about the monetisation piece frequently, while I also think about the product a lot too. It just so happens that when we speak publicly, I have spoken about the commercialisation of Twitter and Ev has spoken about the product…It has been a division of communication strategy.”
He said that it would be “early next year that Twitter will have the capability to serve country specific advertising” through its promoted tweets and promoted trends products. Earlier this year Twitter rolled out its promoted products, under the guidance of Costolo, but so far the majority of advertisers using the product, have been US-based brands.
“And on the heels of that we will start thinking about where to set up offices and place people around the world,” he explained. Twitter still only operates out of one office in San Francisco, down the road from where it was founded four years ago.
Costolo could not reveal exactly when Twitter will set up its first UK offices, as that was something “still being decided”.
Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, retains the same role, head of creative marketing. Costolo described him as “the guardian of the Twitter brand and culture”.