And Twitter’s New CEO Is . . .


It’s been three months since early Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) investor Chris Sacca let loose a scathing 8,500-word critique of the social media company just hours ahead of its annual shareholder meeting. That afternoon, the billionaire maverick implied in an interview that, if CEO Dick Costolo wasn’t going to act aggressively to fix what’s wrong with the company, the board would and he’d be gone.

Eight days later, Twitter announced that Costolo would indeed be stepping down and co-founder Jack Dorsey would run the company until the board found a suitable replacement.

The market has been holding its collective breath ever since, just waiting for the San Francisco-based company to pull the trigger and make Dorsey its permanent CEO. Don’t get me wrong. As I wrote this piece Thursday, Twitter’s board was meeting to discuss this critical decision. And while they may not know it yet, they will decide that Dorsey’s the only guy for the job.

How can I be so certain? Easy. As I always say, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. And while I’m often chided for stating the obvious, that doesn’t mean it won’t turn out to be true. There are five solid reasons why the 38-year old St. Louis native will once again be CEO of Twitter.

1. Robert Peck says so.

Nobody covers Twitter more closely than the SunTrust analyst who accurately predicted last year that Costolo would be gone this year. Granted, that wasn’t exactly a genius call, but when it comes to Twitter, Peck does have a knack for getting it right. And he’s long maintained that Twitter will be run by the triumvirate of Dorsey as CEO, sales chief Adam Bain as president, and cofounder Ev Williams, who also runs Medium, as chairman.

And while that means the board will have to walk back an earlier statement that its new CEO can’t run two companies (Dorsey is also CEO of Square, which is readying its IPO), Peck has an answer for that too: he says the board will likely be overhauled later this year. After the company’s post-IPO fiasco, that looks like a duck to me.

2. The product team has been restructured.

Twitter’s biggest problem is that its product is hard to use and not engaging for the mainstream. That was the focus of Sacca’s massive missive and a highlight of Dorsey’s first earnings call. Since then, the product team has been overhauled and firmed up with Jeff Seibert in charge of Twitter’s consumer product reporting to SVP Kevin Weil.

I’m not going to say that sort of thing never happens during an ongoing CEO search – especially with a founder squarely (no pun intended) if not temporarily in charge – but it is sort of unusual and telling. If priorities one and two are to fix product execution and user engagement, and this configuration is working, why tempt fate by bringing a huge unknown into the equation?

3. Marketing is also being overhauled.

While it’s always seemed odd to have CFO Anthony Noto, former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) analyst, in charge of marketing (as a former marketing veep, the prospect makes me physically cringe), the company is actively recruiting a CMO and developing an integrated marketing campaign that will roll out later this year, coinciding with the launch of Twitter’s new “event driven” product, Project Lightening.

Again, that’s not exactly unheard of, but why would the company go big with its first robust advertising campaign and even consider hiring a chief marketer just ahead of a new CEO showing up at the front door? That seems more than a little far-fetched to me.

4. Who else would take the job under these circumstances?

It’s been widely reported that Dorsey – the current chairman – wants the job. And if he doesn’t get the nod it would have to be Bain, since he’s definitely a keeper and might have an issue with being passed over by an outsider.

I can’t imagine a truly exceptional candidate being willing to come on board under those conditions – where arguably the two most important and respected leaders remaining at a company would feel snubbed. And word has it that Spencer Stuart, the firm conducting the CEO search, just appears to be going through the motions. That’s a sign if you ask me.

5. Dorsey got a shave and a haircut.

When Dorsey first returned to the Twitter limelight, he looked like you could dress him in camo, hand him a shotgun and cast him on Duck Dynasty. Even his mom tweeted that he should shave. He’s still got the beard, but get a look at him now … much more trim, presentable and some might say presidential:

Yes indeed, the task of fixing Twitter will almost certainly be left in the hands of its first CEO, Jack Dorsey. Quack Quack.