Twitter said in a filing today that its CFO, Mike Gupta, was shifting his job to become an SVP of strategic investments. In an unusual move, he has been replaced by Anthony Noto, the former Goldman Sachs banker who was a key player in taking the company public.
Yes, welcome to the daily dose of soap opera that is the San Francisco social communications company. I had asked Twitter PR last week about rumors I had heard about Gupta departing his job, but had been told that was untrue.
Not so! (In Silicon Valley, I hereby dub this move as “pulling a Vic Gundotra,” after the Google+ exec whose departure from the search giant was — how shall we say it — confusing to reporters who had asked and were badly answered. Stiil, my bad for not doing more reporting!)
The move, while being painted as calm, is part of a massive internal upheaval at the company of its top execs. Twitter COO Ali Rowghani and its head of North American media Chloe Sladden left the company last months, in what were tense partings.
While Gupta is not leaving exactly, in a post at the time, I had said he was under pressure because of Wall Street’s poor reaction to his investor relations efforts. Now that will be taken up to Noto, who left Goldman Sachs last month to work at a private equity investment firm Coatue Management.
As I wrote about Gupta at the time:
Also someone who probably needs to tread more carefully is CFO Mike Gupta, who has to better convince Wall Street investors that the Twitter story is a good one and to move the narrative off of that of a moribund growth story. The former investment banker was a top finance exec at Yahoo and then Zynga before he arrived at Twitter in late 2012. It will be up to Gupta to depict what is going on at Twitter more smoothly and to render numbers that are less subject to question by analysts and the media.
Noto can definitely do that. He was a former CFO of the National Football League and a longtime Wall Street analyst. He worked at Goldman since 1999, lastly as global co-head of its key Technology, Media and Telecom Group (TMT).
The arrival of Noto, who is close with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and also its board, is clearly meant to assuage investors, who have beaten down the stock of late for a number of very good reasons. Those include growth issues, as well as worries about its product innovation.
Shares of Twitter, which went public last November, have dropped 33 percent this year. There are up close to five percent on the Noto news. Mission accomplished? Hardly, but it’s a good sign at least.
Twitter said in its regulatory 8-K filing this month that it would pay Noto $250,000 in annual salary and also get a one-time stock award of 1,500,00 shares, vesting over over years, as well as a one-time option grant of 500,000 shares.