It’s being reported that Dick Costolo, the former CEO, will be leaving the company’s board of directors before year’s end.
Considering the overabundance of former CEOs on the board — Twitter co-founders Ev Williams and Jack Dorsey are both on the board for example — I was surprised that Costolo continued on the board after resigning as CEO. Dorsey is currently acting as interim CEO, and apparently angling for the full-time job. But it seems more likely that some other insider might get a chance at riding the Twitter pony on the merry-go-round, like Adam Bain.
I refer to it as a merry-go-round because no one seems to be able to break out of the slow-as-molasses doldrums of Twitter’s product woes. No wonder, when the failed former CEOs are sitting on the board.
Any sensible new CEO would want to get those spectres of the past off the board, but it may take some time, considering how much equity they own.
As an avid user of Twitter, I am hoping for an acquisition by Google or some other Internet giant, where a new future for Twitter can be concocted, one that fits more sensibly in a mobile world. Instead of being stuck in the mud wrestling with very present day — and potentially low margin — market niches, like ad revenue, being acquired by a player with a longer time frame might break Twitter out of low gear.
Years ago (2012!), I expected Apple to buy Twitter:
Most of today’s operating systems are still based on 1990 thinking. They are based on WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointer). They don’t know about the Web, so users have to move back and forth from their local store of docs and files to the cloud, a thousand times a day. And the biggest surprise of the Web has been the rise of social, which is supported on our computers through apps.
All of these limitations will be attacked in new operating systems, which will be web-aware, post-WIMP, and inherently social.
Apple is headed into a battle with Google, Facebook, and maybe Microsoft (Windows 8 looks pretty good), and one of the primary areas of contention will be building social primitives into the operating environment.
Google will build its social architecture in Android. Facebook will become more than just an app platform: it will become a mobile OS. Windows 9 or some future version will incorporate some approach to social. And iOS and Mac OS X have started to move this way by including Twitter in the mix, as a fundamental social protocol.
Apple should pay the $10B for Twitter, and make it into the social layer of its OSs, and as the social framework of its apps. For example, Ping in iTunes could be rewired to rely on Twitter, fixing its design as Barry Ritholz points out, and future social TV and second screen apps could be based on Twitter, as well, which makes sense because Twitter is the leading second screen app today. The coming battle for social TV will be hugely important, and Twitter really positions Apple in that space.
These issues are still relevant, and Apple’s recent push into the music sphere might create new reasons for a Twitter buy (like how bad Connect is). Facebook doesn’t need Twitter, and other former bigs like Yahoo and AOL are themselves afterthoughts, nowadays.
At any rate, my bet is that Twitter is on the verge of becoming irrelevant in a world passing it by. Absent an acquisition by a major player, Twitter is likely to see the slow departure of core constituencies, and a hastening glide into the dustbin of web history.