Twitter’s Costolo: not quite footloose and fancy free

May 19, 2010

You’d think fast-racing Twitter would keep one eye firmly fixed on the rearview and side mirrors.

With the Internet landscape littered with also-rans — from to to a Facebook-steamrolled MySpace — you’d imagine the one thing overnight Internet microblogging phenomenon Twitter would fear the most would be to get displaced by an up-and-comer with the same alarming speed.

Not so. Chief Operating Officer Dick Costolo insists no one at the company he has worked at for less than a year worries about two theoretical guys in a garage dreaming up the next social networking sensation.

“That’s a fun question. The way I think about that is the only thing to prevent us from being successful is us,” said the co-founder and CEO of FeedBurner, a digital content syndication platform that was acquired by Google in the summer of 2007. “This stuff that’s out of my control — I’ve got no hair and I’m too stressed out as is,” said the bespectacled, balding executive who joined Twitter in September.

“We all kind of make it our job to understand what the landscape looks like but we make it a point to reinforce to each other that we’re the people that are going to make Twitter successful, not the success or failure of the competition.”

That’s not to say Costolo and his company are luxuriating in a carefree existence. With more than $100 million raised from the likes of T. Rowe Price, Benchmark Capital and other investment names — granting the four-year old firm an eye-popping $1 billion valuation — tons of hype and the attendant hopes, Costolo is well aware of the need to meet some of those lofty expectations.

“We’ve got things to prove before we get there,” admitted Costolo, an amateur stage performer. “I constantly, constantly, constantly worry about what we need to do to be a self-sustaining business.”

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