Twitter CEO: IPO still a long way off

At a Wired conference in New York, Twitter chief Dick Costolo rebuffs thinking that his company might miss a mythical "IPO window."

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at the Wired conference in New York. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

"We don't see any need or urgency to even think about that stuff," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said today when asked when the company is going public.

Speaking with writer Steven Levy at Wired's Disruptive by Design conference today in New York, Costolo said that the business was working extremely well and that Twitter has plenty of money in the bank (it's raised more than $1 billion in venture funds). "We don't need to worry about financing now," he said.

Costolo also signaled that he may not want to run a public company the way the markets demand. "I'm never going to optimize for short-term revenue at the expense of user experience," he said. "If people think we're going too cautiously, I don't care. They can stay on the sidelines."

The Twitter CEO expressed a disdain for the thinking that there's an "IPO window" that may close soon and leave Twitter unable to raise public funds, if it ever needs to. "That's silly and shortsighted thinking," he said. "Google went public on its own terms. If you have a great business, you can be a public company whenever you want to be a public company. You're not beholden to a window."

See also: Twitter sets its sights on 2 billion users and simplifying the user experience

Levy asked if Twitter was on track to bring in $250 million a year in revenues and asked Costolo if Twitter was going to expand its revenue model, the Promoted Tweets advertising program. Costolo replied, "We're confident we've got a hit on our hands." (Note: Updated to reflect that Costolo did not comment on the $250 million figure Levy mentioned.)

Speaking about the Twitter product itself, Costolo did confirm that "onboarding" new users to Twitter was a continuing challenge. It's difficult to show them the benefit of the platform when they're new. Thus, the company's new #Discovery feature, announced this morning. "We need to make it super simple and dead easy for both our existing users and users new the platform," he said.

He added that the new, personalized Discovery feature is based, today, simply on who users follow. He did hint that this was very valuable data to Twitter, and thus to advertisers, but it's apparently not being used to target advertising yet. "The interest graph paints a maybe even more compelling picture of who you are than either age or geography," he said.

Updated 4:37 p.m. PT: Reworded to clarify Costolo's comments in the third-to-last paragraph above.