Twitter co-founder Evan Williams stepped down on Monday as chief executive, handing over to a Google veteran brought in last year to help the microblogging service make money.
Williams, in a post on the company blog, said Twitter’s chief operating officer, Dick Costolo, would take over as CEO of the San Francisco-based startup effective immediately.
Costolo, whose Web content distribution company Feedburner was purchased by Google in 2007, has been at the forefront of efforts to begin monetizing Twitter since he joined the company last year.
Williams said he planned to focus on product strategy.
“I am most satisfied while pushing product direction,” he said. “Building things is my passion and I’ve never been more excited or optimistic about what we have to build.”
“This is why I have decided to ask our COO, Dick Costolo, to become Twitter’s CEO,” Williams said. “Starting today, I’ll be completely focused on product strategy.”
Williams said Costolo has been a “critical leader in devising and executing our revenue efforts, while simultaneously and effectively making the trains run on time in the office.
“Given Dick’s track record as a three-time successful CEO, I’m confident we can make this a smooth transition,” he said.
Twitter, which allows users to fire off messages of 140 characters or less known as “tweets,” has enjoyed skyrocketing popularity since it was launched in 2006 by Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone.
Williams said Twitter now employs about 300 people, up from 20 when he took over as CEO from Dorsey two years ago. Dorsey is presently Twitter’s chairman while Stone serves as “creative director.”
“In those same two years, we grew from 3 million registered users to more than 160 million today,” Williams said. “By all accounts, Twitter is on a roll. We’ve redesigned our Web site to great user feedback.
“Our user and usage numbers are growing at a rapid clip all around the world,” he said. “We’ve launched an early, but successful, monetization effort.”
The Twitter co-founder added that “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.”
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