As Twitter nears its IPO — at least according to months of rumors – CEO Dick Costolo seemingly refuses to focus on the money. “We think of revenue like oxygen. Essential to life but not the first thing you think about in the morning,” he told Katie Couric at The Atlantic’s Aspen Ideas Festival. “I don’t try to get caught up in short-term thinking about the company.”
Given the impending IPO, this is likely Costolo’s last interview, so these quotes will haunt them as the $10 billion IPO frenzy ramps up.
Couric asked him if he had learned anything from Facebook’s epic IPO blunder. Costolo, in a transparent dodge that got laughs from the audience, said, “I don’t like to think about reacting to what other people are doing in the market. It’s like driving while looking in the rear view mirror.”
The goal, Costolo said in true buzzword-happy fashion, is to become a “global town square.”
Costolo completely bypassed questions about the National Security Agency’s Internet snooping program. “We have to obey the rule of law,” he said, noting that Twitter was not one of the nine companies named as part of the PRISM program.
It should be noted that Twitter isn’t the only company that claimed to fight the NSA. Yahoo reportedly tried to block the NSA’s spying but lost. So while it’s laudable that Twitter isn’t part of PRISM, it may be because Twitter doesn’t collect the kinds of user identification data most valuable to spy agencies (you can sign up for Twitter with a pseudonym).
Ultimately, Costolo said he wants Twitter to be an interesting place to work. All money and no play makes Twitter a boring business. “That’s not a fun place to go to work in the morning. It’s not particularly innovative.”