23 March 2023

Twitter's No. 2 Resigns After Dispute With CEO

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Twitter Inc.'s leadership was thrown into disarray Thursday after one of its top executives, Ali Rowghani, resigned as chief operating officer amid a dispute with Chief Executive Dick Costolo.

The sudden resignation of Mr. Rowghani, a well-respected manager who in his four years at Twitter rose to become Mr. Costolo's most-trusted lieutenant, comes at a particularly thorny time in the company's young history as a public company. Twitter's stock has fallen about 42% this year amid mounting concerns the company's user base is stalling after years of strong growth.

Also on Thursday, hours after Mr. Rowghani's departure, another veteran executive announced on Twitter her own plans to leave the company. Chloe Sladden, head of North American media, was in charge of aligning the social-media company with television.

Her boss, Mr. Rowghani, was responsible for a number of groups within the company, including the business development, international and media teams. Weeks before the company's public offering in November, Mr. Costolo put Mr. Rowghani in charge of the product team with the understanding he would oversee it for several quarters to fix waning user-growth rates.

In recent weeks, however, the relationship between the two executives soured, people familiar with the matter said, when Mr. Costolo unexpectedly demanded that Mr. Rowghani give back control of the product team months earlier than planned. Mr. Costolo sought to place product and engineering under himself to streamline the reporting process, according to another person. The dispute ultimately led Mr. Rowghani to resign, these people said.

Some of the people close to the company suggest that his departure speaks to a deeper managerial issue of insecurity as Mr. Rowghani gained more influence at the company.

People familiar with the matter also said there were grumblings among lower-level employees when Mr. Rowghani sold 300,000 shares of stock, pocketing $9.9 million, at a time when other senior executives and backers of the company vowed to hold on to their shares as a vote of confidence in Twitter's future. A question about why Mr. Rowghani parted with such a big chunk of shares was asked at Twitter's regular companywide meeting known as "tea time," according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Rowghani said he wanted to make a significant donation to brain research after his father passed away.

Tweets from the Twitter accounts of both executives on Thursday showed no signs of animosity between the two. "Goodbye Twitter. It's been an amazing ride, and I will cherish the memories," said a tweet from Mr. Rowghani's account on the social network. Mr. Costolo's Twitter account replied: "Thank you for being an incredible executive & partner. Twitter could not have succeeded without you."

Twitter said Mr. Rowghani will continue to be employed by the company, acting as an adviser to Mr. Costolo. Twitter said it doesn't intend to hire a new COO and other members of the management team will assume the duties.

Click here for the full article in the Wall Street Journal.

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