San Francisco: Twitter lovers were taken aback when they saw Ali Rowghani tweeting: Goodbye Twitter. It’s been an amazing ride, and I will cherish the memories.
On Thursday Twitter announced the abrupt departure of two senior executives, including the chief operating officer who had been responsible for the social media company’s efforts to revive flagging user growth.
Ali Rowghani, once seen as an influential No 2 who oversaw Twitter’s product development, finances and deal-making, departed after clashing with Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo over whether he should continue to oversee product innovation, a person familiar with the matter said.
Hours later, Chloe Sladden, the Vice-President of media who reported to Rowghani, said in a tweet late Thursday that she had also resigned.
Although Rowghani had been praised for orchestrating a series of financing deals for Twitter that culminated in a successful initial public offering in 2013, his ouster, which had the backing of Twitter’s board of directors, underscores the tensions and rising pressure at Twitter to tweak its microblogging offering to attract new users.
Formerly the chief financial officer at Pixar Animation Studios, Rowghani joined Twitter as CFO in 2010 but steadily expanded his influence to rival Costolo’s. He was appointed COO in 2012 and was tasked last year with increasing Twitter’s user base and revenue, with high-ranking executives such as former vice president of product Michael Sippey reporting to him rather than Costolo.
But the mood within the San Francisco company has turned sour as user growth flagged and its stock price traded at nearly half its value six months ago. Costolo projected privately in 2013 that Twitter would reach 400 million users by the end of that year, according to news reports, but the company reported 255 million users as of early 2014.
The company said it did not intend to replace Rowghani, whose responsibilities will be taken over by other managers. Twitter hired Google executive Daniel Graf to lead its product development in April. The source familiar with the company’s internal politics said that was what precipitated showdown talks between Rowghani and Costolo over his role.