Who’s the CEO of Twitter?

There is talk about a Twitter IPO. We tweet every day,  but like me, you most likely didn’t know who’s running the show there. Here he is, the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo:

Who doesn’t know who the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is. And now you just watched the man in charge of Twitter. Dick’s CV includes working on a comedy theater, founding Feedburner and being a Google ad manager.

Considering that he has been the CEO of Twitter since 2010 he has managed to keep a low profile. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that when he joined Twitter as COO in 2009, his first tweet was about undermining their then CEO and consolidate power. It took him a year to become CEO.

Costolo’s style of leadership

“Managing to be liked is the path to ruin”, he says. Makes sense that he firmly believes that, considering what his first  tweet when he started in the company indicates.

My first impression when I watched the video, was that if Costolo can run Twitter almost anyone can. He gives the impression of being the average guy next door. An image that fits the brand of Twitter that is, after all, used by normal people all over the world. And his statement about caring deeply about the people who work for him fits in with the Twitter brand as well.

But what he says about not caring about if staff like him or not  isn’t really compatible with Twitter’s brand. What would happen if people didn’t like Twitter? There definitely would not be talk about an IPO.

It also makes sense that Dick Costolo is of the opinion that “if you don’t lead in ways that are true to who you are, people will see it and you will lose the trust of your team”.

Presidential appointment

But Costolo is not just the average guy next door. In 2011 Obama named Costello to his National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. And he is now set to take Twitter public.

Did you know that Dick Costolo is the CEO of Twitter? Had you any idea that he was the founder of Feedburner? Do you agree with him that managing to be liked is the path to ruin? Does he come across to you as an average guy that obviously isn’t so average? What do you think of his first tweet as COO of Twitter? 

Video: Reuters TV

26 thoughts on “Who’s the CEO of Twitter?

  1. Catarina — Twitter is about to file for an IPO. The company has been criticized for doing what is called a "confidential" IPO which allows some companies planning to go public to keep some of its information confidential, until the deal gets closer to pricing, according to news reports. That flies in the face of the honesty and transparency that Dick Costolo espouses in this video.

  2. Interesting post! I, too, did not know who the CEO of Twitter was. One of the things that Twitter is so great at, besides immediate content, is giving users a connection to anyone (celebrity or otherwise) and everyone is one the same playing field. We are all "normal people" on Twitter – which relates to the statement: "He gives the impression of being the average guy next door. An image that fits the brand of Twitter that is, after all, used by normal people all over the world."

    I also appreciate his comment on leadership and being true to who you are. I think that's one of the things that makes a great leader. That defined individual who has a knack of being the best leader they can, following their own vision of what that is and executing it with support from those your are leading.
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  3. The only place I sense congruency in what he is saying is that Twitter users are transparent. I think that is one reason I enjoy being there. Not a lot of phoney baloney going on there. I'm in the camp with a few others in that, I could care less who the CEO is as this point. Leaders who keep a low profile and are not full of themselves (not sure Costolo fills that last part) have my respect. Those who have to be seen for the sake of being seen, aren't transparent at all. Thanks Catarina.
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  4. In a strange way, I probably like Twitter because I know next to nothing about its CEO. Managers who are out to be liked are as misguided as teachers who seek to become friends with students. Such a stacked relationship will never work. Keep things running along, and a CEO will be liked, but not in a buddy-buddy way. As for Facebook, I'll stick with if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all…
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  5. I laughed out loud at his first tweet as CEO, there's a guy with a sense of humour.

    I think he's absolutely right in saying that managing so that you are liked is the path to ruin. Leadership isn't a popularity contest or at least it shouldn't be. There are times when making the right decision is going to come into conflict with what people want, you still have to do it. Thanks for the introduction, it will be interesting to see what he does next.
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  6. No idea who the guy was, but I am impressed that he keeps a low profile. To mee this indicates that the success of his company and the people who make that success possible are more improtaant than his personal success. Impressive. Another great post :

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline. It's amazing how he managed to keep a low profile, isn't it. However, the first tweet he sent as COO of Twitter makes me believe personal success is very important to him:-)

  7. Many often confuse the difference between being liked to be or respected as a leader. They are not the same in any way. A leader should strive to work to the best interest of his organization and his subordinates. That will not always make everyone happy. It does however make the organization stronger in the long run support all who work there. To seek only approval from your team will rightly earn you smiles but in the end little respect. They want a leader not a friend.

    Although I am not a fan of his tweet, I understood what his intentions, he didn't hide it. I do respect the fact that he acted on what he said and achieved his goal. It was great way to show that he takes action.
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  8. Interesting post. I did not know who the CEO of Twitter was. While I agree with some points I am not sure I agree with them all. Don't lead to be liked, but it's nice to be liked as a leader. Be transparent without giving away too much. I like that he has done a variety of things in his life. I think it makes him a better leader having had those experiences. It would appear that you do not need to wonder where he stands on any given issue, as his first tweet seems to represent.
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  9. As you say, he's certainly managed to keep out of the limelight – quite something for the CEO of such a public brand. I do believe that a CEO needs to be an evangelist for the business, and that a well-recognised and trusted public face for a business can certainly be a great benefit. Of course, if that executive is not trusted, then it's a big disadvantage for the business.

    As Facebook, Google+ and others try to add more Twitter-like features, it will be important that Twitter develops a more public face of what it's about – there are still many that think it's purely about telling the world what you had for breakfast – and I believe that we will see and hear a lot more of Dick Costolo.

    As for his views that a leader has to care about his/her people, but not lead for his/her own popularity, I agree fully. You must care about the team, and always be true to yourself, but if you try to be liked by everyone, you'll end up being liked by no-one, and trying to be liked by some leads to favouritism. Lead the company and be seen to be fair and impartial at all times.

  10. I think the thing that makes Twitter unique, is that the personality of Twitter isn't in the leadership, but in its users and the those who make the user experience unique. I would agree that leaders must understand the transparency of their role, however, what we see is that many leaders are not true to themselves and feel that they are bigger than the brand they lead. This isn't unique to large multi-national organizations, but can be seen in small, local business as well.

    Thank you for sharing Catarina!
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  11. For someone with such success, it is amazing that we didn't know who he was. I think it is rather clever to remain under the radar so well for so long. To concentrate on what you are doing and not so much making it about you.
    I do totally agree that if you are not true to yourself, you will lose the trust of others.
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  12. Hi Catarina,
    Thanks for sharing this post with the BizSugar community. An even better question might be whether having an identifiable CEO with a strong personal brand makes for a more successful company. Have Facebook, Apple, and even, arguably, Google, been more successful because of the visibility of their top executives. I'd love to start a conversation on this topic in the BizSugar community as well, so please feel free to leave your own two cents in the BizSugar comment section.
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    1. My pleasure, Heather. If an identifiable CEO makes a social media company more successful is a question mark, isn't it? Apple is not a social media company but Facebook and Linkedin are. The CEO of Linkedin is, like Dick Costolo, keeping a relatively low profile. Now with Google Plus, Google can sort of be considered a social media company and their CEO is visible. And, as we know, Google is the most successful of them all. But don't we need more examples of companies to draw a conclusion?

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