Summary:

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo thinks Apple is his spirit company, news organizations shouldn’t fear Twitter, and that engineers need room to experiment.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Credit: Asa Mathat/D: All Things Digital
photo: Asa Mathat/D: All Things Digital

Now that it’s been a year since Facebook went public, the next big IPO circus is likely to involve Twitter. CEO Dick Costolo — as expected — didn’t announce concrete plans for such an IPO Wednesday during his appearance at D11, but held forth on a number of interesting topics during his session.

Advertising seems to be booming at Twitter (although Costolo wouldn’t share any numbers) but while Twitter is working more and more with traditional media companies, it doesn’t see the need as of yet to start creating its own news content, Costolo said.

“I see us partnering more with news organizations,” he said. He thinks of Twitter as a tool for news organizations and individuals to distribute content and while it’s messy at times, Costolo doesn’t seem to think that Twitter has a responsibility to verify the content itself; it does, however, want to help news organizations verify themselves on Twitter with better security tools. No specifics were provided, but Costolo addressed the question of security very seriously (for a guy that jokes around a lot), admitting “we haven’t moved as quickly there as we wanted to.”

Twitter has famously cracked down on how third-party developers use that content in their own apps, but Costolo claimed his company’s relationship with developers is “great.” Since the crack-down last summer, the company has certainly worked to mend relationships with developers through partnerships and integrations around Twitter Cards, which bring more content to the site. Costolo alluded to a special relationship with Yahoo over data-feed licensing but didn’t get into specifics regarding that announcement from earlier this month.

Twitter’s own developers have an interesting privilege: they’re allowed to roll out any tweak to the system that reaches one percent of users without clearance from upper management in hopes of sparking experimentation, Costolo said. That being said, what Twitter really needs is “simplicity:” it’s still too hard for new users to get the hang of Twitter, like having to put a period in front of a user name at the beginning of a tweet so your tweets reach all your followers.

He sees Apple as a “mentor company,” when it comes to that simplicity. “We like the way they think about simplicity in design.”

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