Twitter Has a New Leader

Is this the season to change exec teams? On the same day Skype announced a new CEO, Twitter has revealed its own reshuffle at the top, with COO Dick Costolo now assuming duties as CEO, replacing founder Ev Williams. Ev is not going anywhere, however -- he'll stay and focus on product strategy.

In the blog post announcing the news, Ev says "by all accounts Twitter is on a roll" after a number of redesigns, growing user numbers, usage and "early, but successful" efforts to monetize the service. The company itself is growing rapidly, and now numbers 300 staff compared to about 20 when Ev assumed the CEO's role. 

But Ev is also aware that "growing big is not success in itself." In order to successfully convert its increasing weight, and usage into more cash and improved services, Ev needs to concentrate on "pushing product direction" because "building things" is his passion. It's for this reason alone, according to Williams, that he's asked COO Dick Costolo to become CEO effective immediately. (We've known it for some time: as early as July, Fast Company was pushing for Williams to step down.)

Costolo has been a "critical leader in devising and executing our revenue efforts, while simultaneously and effectively making the trains run on time in the office" during his year in the COO role, Williams said.

We can assume this news was timed to something -- and indeed, it follows a period when Twitter became more integrated with other real-time online services. Exhibit A: today's announcement of Twitter for Google TV. Is the first era of Twitter growth over, with a steady hand taking the CEO tiller to make sure the money keeps rolling in from the existing business model he helped create, while Ev champions new efforts to turn Twitter into something even bigger and better? It certainly seems that way.

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