Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Steps Down; Jack Dorsey To Be Interim CEO

Jack is back at Twitter.

The company announced Thursday that embattled CEO Dick Costolo will step down. Chairman Jack Dorsey, the social network’s co-founder and former chief executive, will serve as interim CEO, starting July 1.

Costolo will remain on the board.

“There is no one better than Jack Dorsey to lead Twitter during this transition,” Costolo said in a statement. “He has a profound understanding of the product and Twitter’s mission in the world as well as a great relationship with Twitter’s leadership team.”

Dorsey said he will remain CEO of Square, the mobile payments service he co-founded in 2009.

In a conference call Thursday evening, Costolo denied that he was forced out of his position. He said he approached the board about stepping down late last year; and as criticism of his leadership ramped up in recent months, he felt that remaining in office would harm the company’s attempts to find a replacement.

“I personally felt that the scrutiny of the company would intensify if I remained CEO during the search process,” he said.

Dorsey said a committee of board members -- comprised of himself, co-founder Evan Williams and venture capitalists Peter Fenton and Peter Currie -- had yet to retain a headhunting firm to find the next CEO. Both internal and external candidates are eligible, he added.

Twitter’s stock price had plunged precipitously in the last two months. In April, the company announced $436 million in revenue for the first three months of 2015, $20 million below analysts’ expectations. Making matters worse, user growth has slowed in the past year.

Following Thursday’s announcement, shares surged nearly 8 percent in after-hours trading.

Costolo’s departure is not surprising. After he sold a large portion of his stake in the company last December, investors began clamoring for him to step down, with one bluntly telling Business Insider that “he is an obstacle” who “shouldn’t be running the company anymore.”

The biggest problem may now be finding a permanent chief. Rumors began circulating in January that Adam Bain, the president of global revenue, was a likely a candidate.

At the Code Conference last month, he said he wasn’t afraid for his job security.

"The board and I are totally in sync about what we need to do. We have a very clear strategy that we’ve articulated and that we’re following," he said at the conference. "I don’t worry about whether I’ll be there at the end of the year."

This story has been updated with new information throughout.