Dick Costolo Takes CEO Reins as Twitter Ramps Revenue

Co-Founder Evan Williams Steps Down to Focus on Strategy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Twitter Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo, the executive charged with turning Twitter into an advertising business, was named CEO of the company on today, replacing co-founder Evan Williams.

Dick Costolo
Dick Costolo Credit: Gary He
Mr. Costolo was hired as COO nearly a year ago and has rolled out Twitter's first forays into commerce, including selling the data feed to search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, and new ad products such as promoted tweets, trends and, also introduced today, "promoted accounts."

But it was another big Twitter initiative that spurred the change. The company has overhauled its web interface over the past several months -- a huge project that required the focus of Mr. Williams over some of the more traditional CEO responsibilities.

Going forward, Mr. Williams will focus on product and vision. "As we've all seen with the new Twitter, when Ev [Williams] focuses on product, something amazing can happen," Mr. Costolo said in a statement.

When Mr. Williams hired Mr. Costolo, he brought in a kindred spirit. Like Mr. Williams, who sold another startup, Blogger, to Google, Mr. Costolo had sold a company to Google (Feedburner) and was more interested in building Twitter as a standalone entity than selling it.

And like another Silicon Valley startup with a fast-growing service, Facebook, Mr. Costolo has tried to balance integrating brand advertising into the service without destroying it. Having tested its ads for several months, the company is now starting to syndicate them to other applications that access Twitter, such as Hootsuite.

Since Mr. Costolo joined the company, Twitter has raised two huge rounds of capital to expand and build out its advertising products, bringing total outside investment to $160 million. The move puts him in a position to guide the company -- with 165 million users worldwide but just a trickle of revenue -- toward an initial public offering.

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