By Sarah Frier
Twitter Inc. said Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani resigned, in the biggest executive departure since the microblogging company’s initial public offering last year.
Rowghani will continue to be a Twitter employee and act as a strategic adviser to Chief Executive Officer Dick Costolo, the San Francisco-based company said in a filing today. Twitter said it will not fill the COO role. The move follows reports on technology blog Re/code yesterday about internal friction with Rowghani.
Twitter has been on a rocky ride since its November IPO and its stock is down more than 44 percent this year as user growth of the microblogging service has decelerated. Part of Rowghani’s COO job was to facilitate that growth. Among other recent departures are Christopher Fry, who was Twitter’s head of engineering, and Michael Sippey, who was vice president of consumer product.
Rowghani recently sold 300,000 shares of his Twitter stake for a profit of about $9.9 million, even with the stock price near an all-time low, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The sales followed the expiry of a lock-up period on shares. By contrast, Costolo and co-founders Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey pledged to hold on to their shares to signal a vote of confidence in the company.
Twitter hasn’t always had a COO. Costolo was brought on as COO to grow the business in 2010, and later that year replaced co-founder Williams as CEO. The company didn’t have a COO again until December 2012, when it hired Zynga Inc.’s Mike Gupta to be CFO. Rowghani, who was finance chief at the time, took the operating role.
Rowghani joined Twitter in 2010 after nine years as CFO at Pixar Animation Studios. Before that, he was an associate at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Though he is known for his ability to analyze issues with company procedure, he doesn’t have experience building products, an area that Twitter has said its future growth depends on.