Jack is officially back as Twitter’s CEO.
This morning, in a series of tweets, Jack Dorsey announced that his CEO title at Twitter has been upgraded from “interim” status to permanent, confirming weeks of speculation. He’ll also continue serving as CEO of Square, the payments company he founded in 2009 that’s reportedly on the cusp of an IPO.
According to an SEC filing, Dorsey, 38, won’t be directly compensated by Twitter, but he remains one of the company’s largest shareholders.
Among other management changes announced in the filing, ex-CEO Dick Costolo resigned from Twitter’s board on Sept. 30, Dorsey has stepped down as chairman (a replacement has not yet been named), and Adam Bain, the company’s president for global revenue and partnerships for the past five years, was promoted to chief operating officer.
This isn’t Dorsey’s first run as Twitter’s CEO. But his management skills have evolved since his last go-around, after leading Square to a $6 billion valuation. A recent Re/Code profile explains how Dorsey changed his leadership style from that of a micromanager to someone who delegates more, freeing up more time for himself to focus on high-level strategy. That’ll be important as Dorsey attempts to lead two different companies.
The arrangement raises an important question about the viability of Square’s public offering. With its CEO serving as the head of another public company, the IPO roadshow could be a tough one for Square. Rumor is that Square filed for an IPO confidentially, utilizing a quirky feature of the JOBS Act passed by US Congress in 2012, and will be filing a public S-1 within weeks.
Convincing investors to finance a payments company whose CEO has two jobs might be difficult. Luckily for Square, its hierarchy is filled with ex-Google and Apple employees who have kept things running smoothly since Dorsey’s appointment as interim CEO of Twitter.
As for Twitter, its board kicked off its search for a new CEO saying it was only looking at “full time” candidates, implying it’s made a big exception here for Dorsey. This won’t help the board’s credibility with big Twitter investors like Chris Sacca, who have taken the board to task for a variety of alleged shortcomings.
But the board seems to have decided the tradeoff was worth it to keep Dorsey, whose acumen for product development should help fill one area that Twitter’s been short on. Its mobile apps, for example, have lacked cohesiveness, its desktop apps offer limited utility, and Twitter has yet to build curated products that capitalize on the real-time nature of the service. These issues have made growth sluggish, and investors have not been kind to Twitter’s share price. A few projects are underway to address the concerns, and the company seems interested in recruiting a chairman who might help things along—during an investor call, executives said they planned to appoint an outsider to the role, one with public company experience, a global perspective, and a focus on products.
For now, though, the focus is on Dorsey.
No doubt there have been several highly successful tech executives to serve as CEO of two companies simultaneously. Steve Jobs led animation studio Pixar as well as Apple, which turned out pretty well for both companies. (Interestingly, Dorsey will still serve on the board of Disney, which now owns Pixar.) Elon Musk is CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, and also is chairman of SolarCity.
Twitter shareholders no doubt hope to have another dual-CEO success story on their hands—as will investors in Square.