With 250M tweets per day, Twitter plans 'simplicity' strategy

CEO Dick Costolo discusses Twitter's growth, competing with Google+, Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Twitter handling a quarter of a billion tweets per day, CEO Dick Costolo said he's focusing on keeping things simple.

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit on Monday evening, Costolo said he plans on going head-to-head with Facebook and Google+ by focusing on simplicity.

"We're offering simplicity in a world of complexity," he said. "We're trying to edit down ... [Google] said they'll compete on features. We're going to compete on simplicity. We're going to simplify our interactions and the way people use our service." He said it will take self-control to focus and edit down instead of cluttering up the micro-blogging service with unnecessary features.

Costolo, who has been CEO for just over a year, said Twitter is booming.

At the beginning of this year, the service was handling about 100 million tweets per day. Now that number has jumped to 250 million tweets per day. Costolo noted that it took Twitter three years and two months to reach its first billion tweets. Now the service hits that number every four days.

He also reported that Twitter has 100 million active users, half of whom log in every day.

Costolo said he is excited about the service's mobile usage, and noted that Twitter's mobile use is growing by 40% quarter on quarter. Since the release last week of Apple's iOS 5, which has deep Twitter integration, daily Twitter signups have tripled, he added.

With all of this success and a year in the company's big chair, Costolo said Twitter is starting to feel like his company. "This is certainly a case where I feel I had to earn the trust of the team," he said. "They trust me as the CEO. They respect me as the CEO. They talk to me as the CEO."

Costolo also made it clear that Twitter is in no hurry to go public, but he does feel pressure to live up to Twitter's $8 billion market value.

"Of course, I feel enormous pressure to live up to the evaluation, but you can't let that be the way you think of the company," he said, adding that Twitter doesn't need the money they'd gain from going public. "We've got more money than we're going to need for a long time, and we're going to be able to scale as we want to scale it. We want to go public when we want to go public and not at the whim of a window."

Costolo got enthusiastic applause when he answered a question asking when Twitter will give users access to their old tweets and direct messages.

"We have a finite number of search engineers and we have to prioritize the work that they do, and we are prioritizing this," he said. "We want to get this to work. We know it's important to people."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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