Twitter lacks ‘clear long term vision’ admits new CEO
Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, has admitted that the microblogging company is currently lacking a clear long term vision.Photo: twitter
In his first UK interview since becoming Twitter’s chief executive last month, Costolo, when asked for his long term vision of the company’s purpose, replied: “I am working on clarity around that at the moment. I am currently trying to define what Twitter’s purpose is in the long term. We will be able to be more specific on that answer in the near future.”
Costolo took over the chief executive role from Evan Williams, Twitter’s co-founder, who has remained at the company to focus solely on product development. His quick ascent to the top job from chief operating officer, was seen by many as the repositioning of the company, as it focuses on generating profit and scaling its operations around the world.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and chairman, added that it was difficult to try and define Twitter’s function and purpose, as so many of its uses had been defined by its users over the past four years. “It is hard to speak about Twitter’s vision without factoring in how much of its purpose has been defined by its users over the years. Users came up with so many parts of the service, such as the ‘hashtag’ [which allows people to link to a subject or an event] as so many people use it in so many different ways.
“Twitter needs to continue being a good listener and recognise that the service has been redefined by lots of people, tweet by tweet, but also come up with its own priorities,” he said.
Additionally, Costolo, in his new role, is mindful of Twitter not losing its company culture, as it opens up offices around the world.
“At the moment I am focusing on trying to ensure Twitter retains the culture of the successful tech start-up it began life as. We have gone past the point now where everyone knows everyone else’s name in the company. We now employ 325 people and are growing by the day. It is important while we open up new offices, to make sure we are still able to innovate at the same pace and grow the organisation without adding layers of unnecessary bureaucracy.”
His other areas of focus, as well as defining Twitter’s long-term game plan, are ensuring that the service can successfully scale globally, from a technological point of view and prioritising the key countries to expand within.
“We do have a technologically scalability challenge, which we need to keep on top of so that people continue to have a good experience when using Twitter… Right now all of our data centres are in the US, but with huge growth in countries like Japan, we need to start planning when is the right moment to have data centres elsewhere.”
Costolo confirmed that the UK and Japan, where it already has a presence through a joint venture operation with Digital Garage, are two priority locations for expansion.
“The usage and engagement with Twitter in both the UK and Japan are particularly strong, which is why they are two locations we are focusing on expanding our operations within.
“The Tokyo office [with Digital Garage] is our model for international growth.”
Costolo refused to reveal when, during 2010, a Twitter office will open in Europe – more specifically London. However, he did explain that, similar to other US technology companies, such as Facebook, most of its international offices would be sales focused as opposed to having a product development division.
In April this year Twitter launched its ‘promoted suite’ of advertising products, in its first bid to commercialise the product. Costolo said that its first few months had gone well and the company was now looking to localise its advertising offering via its promoted tweets.