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Twitter CEO suddenly resigns

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams has announced on the company’s official blog that he is to step down in favour of the company’s COO, Dick Costolo.

Williams will now “completely focus on product strategy”. Costolo is the co-founder and former CEO of Feedburner, which was acquired by Google in 2007.

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Writes Williams in a post entitled #newtwitterceo: “The challenges of growing an organization so quickly are numerous. Growing big is not success, in itself. Success to us means meeting our potential as a profitable company that can retain its culture and user focus while having a positive impact on the world. This is no small task. I frequently reflect on the type of focus that is required from everyone at Twitter to get us there.”

Williams says this led to “a realisation” with the launch of the new Twitter interface: “I am most satisfied while pushing product direction. Building things is my passion, and I’ve never been more excited or optimistic about what we have to build.”

The service has seen dramatic growth since it was launched in 2006 by Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone. Twitter now clocks more than 90-million tweets every day and boasts 160-million registered users. Despite these impressive numbers, the company has only 300 people working for it, up from 20 when Williams first took the CEO mantle in 2008.

Williams says that he had insisted on bringing Costolo on as the COO a year ago which had caused “questions” from the Twitter board.

“…I knew Dick would be a strong complement to me, and this has proven to be the case… Given Dick’s track record as a three-time successful CEO, I’m confident we can make this a smooth transition,” writes Williams.

Costolo had been a “critical leader” in devising and executing Twitter’s new drive at monetisation, while simultaneously running the company in a hands-on manner, says Williams.

Williams’ departure comes just three weeks after Twitter unveiled an overhauled website that lets people more easily sift through the growing mountain of micro-messages and creates more opportunity for advertising.

Twitter’s Promoted Tweets is essentially an advertising service that allows companies and others to place tweets at the top of a page of search results.

Dan Frommer of Silicon Valley technology blog BusinessInsider.com says Williams had done a good job scaling up the company and it was “time to use Twitter’s hit product and huge audience to print cash.”

“It’s clearly Dick Costolo’s job now to turn Twitter into a real business, judged by the amount of revenue it can generate, not just the amount of tweets it can generate,” he said. “And it’s obvious that he’s a better man for that job than Williams is.”

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