Dick Costolo was let go from his role as CEO of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), to be replaced by a former CEO that was also fired. Unfortunately, it looks very strongly as if the Board made this decision for the wrong reasons.
Let’s compare Mr. Costolo to CEO Zuckerberg’s performance at Facebook, and Mr. Bezos’ performance at Amazon. The latter two have been widely heralded for their leadership, so it sets a pretty good bar.
None of these three companies have enough earnings to matter. If you aren’t a growth investor, and you always value a company on earnings, then none of these are your cup of tea. All are evaluated on revenue and user metrics.
Lastly, let’s look at the “quality” of users. We can measure this by calculating the revenue per user. If this goes up, then the company is growing it top line by gaining more revenue per user – it is not “discounting” its way to higher volume. Instead,we can expect profits to improve based upon growth in this metric.
It isn’t hard to see that Mr. Costolo has been doing a pretty good job leading Twitter.
But Twitter has had a very checkered past when it comes to leaders. Several articles have been written about the revolving door on the CEO office, with founders back-stabbing each other as money is raised and efforts are made to improve company performance technologically and financially.
The Board has shown a proclivity to spend too much time listening to rumors, and previous CEOs. Rather than focusing on exactly how many users are coming aboard, and how much revenue is generated on those users.
The returning CEO was himself previously replaced. And during his tenure there were many technical problems. Why he would be inserted, and the best performing CEO in company history shunted aside is completely unclear. But for investors, employees, users (of which I am one) and customers this change in leadership looks to be poorly conceived, and quite concerning. Mr. Costolo was doing a pretty good job.
Data on revenues came from Marketwatch for Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. Data on users (in Amazon’s case customers) came from Statista.com for Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. Charts were created by Adam Hartung (C).