Why is Twitter’s CEO leaving? Because “Everything is Awesome”

TwitterTwitter’s got problems. Its active users grew only 18% year-over-year. Profits are a mirage in the distance. While Twitter’s users are reading tweets, they’re not clicking on them very much. And the CEO just announced he’s leaving.

But if you read what they publish, you’d say “Everything is awesome!

Here are some excerpts from the press release that announced Dick Costolo is leaving (and it’s all like this, I haven’t manipulated it out of context). Meaningless adjectives in bold italic:

Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) today announced that Dick Costolo has decided to step down as Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, effective July 1, 2015. . . . .Twitter’s Board has formed a Search Committee to lead the search for a permanent CEO.

Costolo said, “I am tremendously proud of the Twitter team and all that the team has accomplished together during my six years with the Company. We have great leaders who work well together and a clear strategy that informs our objectives and priorities. . . . I am deeply appreciative of the confidence the Board, the management team and the employees have placed in me over the years, and I look forward to supporting Twitter however I can going forward.”

[Twitter Chairman and future interim CEO Jack] Dorsey said, “The future belongs to Twitter thanks in large part to Dick Costolo’s dedication and vision. Dick has put a world-class team in place and created a great foundation from which Twitter can continue to change the world and grow.”

I wonder when that clear, awesome strategy will pay off. Maybe there’s a clue in the email Costolo sent to all his employees (again, representative excerpts):

Subject: #LoveWhereYouWork

. . . [W]e’ve never had a stronger team here or a more clear and cohesive strategy, and all of that is accompanied by a pace and quality of execution this year that’s been a delight to see. . . . the stability and performance of the organization gives me confidence that this transition will be smooth.

Our greatest competitive advantage is all of the extraordinary people who work here, and it makes my heart full to reflect on the delight I’ve had working with you. Along the thrilling road we’ve traveled, I’ve witnessed monumental personal and professional commitment, sacrifice, trust, and passion. We have a strong foundation in place with a very clear strategy, objectives and priorities; a talented leadership team to help us navigate change; and the inventor of the product and co-founder who is eager to continue executing on our vision.

Does this read like the emails from your management? Do you believe them? Do you work for a growth company whose stock went down 9% in the last 12 months?

Would the sky fall if they told the truth? Just once I want to read a press release that looks like this:

We’ve been working really hard. Twitter keeps growing. But the strategy we’ve used so far has us falling behind, not only Facebook, but other social networks like Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve run out of ideas. So we’re going to look for somebody else to take over with better ideas that might actually generate more cash. Or, failing that, since our user base is so huge and established, I’m sure one of the big tech companies would pay a fat premium to acquire us.

I think the stock would go up. What do you think?

Chart: Business Insider

One response to “Why is Twitter’s CEO leaving? Because “Everything is Awesome”

  1. Press releases and announcements such as these fall into two categories these days:

    * borderline inscrutable and buzzword-laden
    * meaningless

    I tend to take them with a 50-lb. bag of salt.

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