Twitter names ex-Google exec as chairperson

2015-10-15 09:35
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Twitter. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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San Francisco - Twitter appointed former Google executive Omid Kordestani as its executive chairperson, the latest step in the company's turnaround efforts under Jack Dorsey, who last week was named permanent CEO.

Kordestani's extensive sales experience could prove a good counterpoint to Twitter co-founder Dorsey's product knowledge and vision, analysts said.

"It's rare you get to be at a company with an amazing business that's also transforming the world," Kordestani tweeted. "I've had good fortune to be at three: Netscape, @google, and now @twitter."

Kordestani, a former Google chief business officer and senior adviser, will join Twitter's board but not the company. He offered few other details on his role and how he will split duties with Dorsey.

Twitter said last week it would hire an outsider as chairman to allay concerns about Dorsey's dual role as head of mobile payments company Square, which is reportedly planning an IPO.

"It's quite a coup," said James Cordwell, analyst at Atlantic Equities. "He was very well-respected at Google."

The announcement could lead to other changes to the board, long criticised for having too many former Twitter CEOs, an excess that investors and analysts said had hampered the company's ability to attract executives and high-level employees.

Kordestani, 51, joined Google as its 11th employee in 1999 and stayed for 10 years. After a few years away, he returned full-time in October 2014 as chief business officer.

He became a senior adviser in August, helping the company through its rebranding as Alphabet.

Twitter is working to reignite growth after last quarter reporting its slowest rise in monthly average users since going public in 2013. On Tuesday, it announced plans to lay off up to 8 percent of its workforce, mostly engineers and product employees.

"(Kordestani) has incredible business acumen and can help fine-tune the strategy and attract talent to Twitter," said James Cakmak, analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co.

At one point, Google was rumored to be interested in buying Twitter. The two companies have struck partnerships in recent months, including showing Tweets in search results and allowing advertisers to use Google's DoubleClick service to buy and measure ad views on Twitter.

Twitter did not disclose Kordestani's pay. He received a $60m equity award from Google in 2014, plus a one-time supplemental equity award worth $65m. He also received a bonus of $5 million when he returned as chief business officer.

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