Trevor D. Traina Lecture Series at the MCI with Dick Costolo, Entrepreneur and CEO of Twitter 2010-2015.
The digital live talk with the former CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, on June 26, 2020, marks the beginning of the "Trevor D. Traina Guest Lecture Series" organized by MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® in collaboration with U.S. Ambassador Trevor D. Traina.
Twitter is one of the top three social media platforms worldwide of the last decade. The platform has had a major impact on elections and brought democratic values to people who have no voice under ordinary circumstances. Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter from 2010 to 2015, had a goal to reach every person on this planet, not only people in industrialized countries. Therefore, it was also important for Twitter that the platform would function even with poor internet connections.
Dick Costolo was always aware of his responsibility. When creating a social media platform, algorithms are developed which decide what is shown on the individual feed of the users. This means that the operator is also responsible for ensuring that the feed does not just display lies or fake videos. "You make this decision. You can't just say. Oh we're just a platform."
The success of Twitter as one of the most influential social media platforms in the world is inevitably linked to consistent leadership. "Listen, decide, communicate" was the trademark of Dick Costolo's leadership style.
When Dick Costolo joined Twitter, the company was facing major technical challenges. At that time, the corporate culture was still pursuing other values and the platform was often unstable. This was also known in the industry: Mark Zuckerberg is said to have once referred to Twitter as a bunch of clowns who crashed a clown car into a gold mine.
Once Dick Costolo joined Twitter, he and his team established priorities for the first time and identified core values that were anchored in the corporate culture. Like the north star those core values guided the company through the daily decision-making process. Once Costola even cancelled an advertising cooperation during the Superbowl, because the cooperation did not fit into the picture of those core values.
Ambassador Traina, a successful technology entrepreneur for many years himself, shared insights from his own beginnings: "I quickly realized how many decisions had to be made every day. The entire team demands your decisions and relies on them."
He particularly appreciated Dick Costolo's "Golden Advice": "Listen, decide, communicate". Being able to listen is an essential quality of a good manager. Up to 70% of his decisions are based on listening well to his employees. Then you have to make a decision quickly and communicate it transparently to the team. Because nothing harms a company culture more than making decisions without first asking the team for feedback. "Managers often believe that they need to know everything. But this is not true. It is their job to make the best decisions," Costolo explains.
Dick Costolo, Entrepreneur, CEO of Twitter 2010-2015Dick Costolo is an entrepreneur, founder and risk partner who is best known as CEO of Twitter from 2010 to 2015. Dick Costolo has founded several startups, including FeedBurner, which was sold to Google in 2007. During his time on Twitter, Dick was named "one of the most impressive CEOs in Silicon Valley" by Business Insider and "one of the 10 most influential U.S. Tech CEOs" by TIME. He is also a former improv comedian and currently a consultant for HBO's Silicon Valley.
Trevor D. TrainaBorn in California, Trevor D. Traina was appointed Ambassador of the United States to Austria in 2018 by President Donald J. Trump and has been working in Austria since May 2018. Ambassador Traina looks back on a long career as a founder of innovative companies. Prior to his appointment as U.S. Representative to Austria, he worked as a technology entrepreneur and philanthropist in San Francisco.