Twitter board ‘warming’ to idea of Dorsey as full-time CEO

It has been 89 days since Twitter has had a full-time chief executive. That might change now that the company’s board has reportedly warmed to the idea of making Jack Dorsey, the interim CEO, the permanent leader of the company he co-founded.
The New York Times reports that Twitter’s board is considering the possibility of having Dorsey lead the company again, despite initial misgivings about how he’d do the job while remaining the CEO of Square, the payments company he co-founded.
Dick Costolo left his position as Twitter’s CEO on July 1. “I initiated conversations with some members of the board at the end of last year about CEO succession as I contemplated what was next for me,” Costolo said in June. “And ultimately following discussions with the full board and at February meeting and then at our meeting last week, we agree that now is the right time to begin this transition.”
Costolo remains on Twitter’s board of directors, and is presumably helping the company find his replacement. Yet he has reportedly planned to leave the board — thus severing all ties with the company he led between 2010 and 2015 — as well.
Twitter’s board has been searching for Costolo’s permanent replacement since that announcement was made in June. But now, almost three months after Costolo left, the question of whether or not Dorsey will receive the title remains unanswered.
This has frustrated Chris Sacca, a venture capitalist and Twitter board member. “Good board of directors? They can name a new CEO by the end of the week,” he tweeted when Volkswagen replaced its CEO following the emissions scandal. “But the Twitter board? Nothing for months.” Sacca has been vocal about his support for Dorsey being named Twitter’s CEO and praised the company under his leadership.
There has already been one sign that Dorsey leading both Twitter and Square could benefit the companies: A partnership that makes it easy for Twitter users to donate to politicians. That partnership could, as I argued before, increase the visibility of both services while also giving Twitter users a reason to interact with the service. The two companies could doubtless find other ways to complement each other.
The New York Times is quick to note that Dorsey’s ascension to Twitter’s CEO isn’t guaranteed. The board hasn’t yet made its decision, and things can change quickly. But it seems like Dorsey’s appointment is more likely than it was a few months ago.

Uncertainty is the only certainty in technology today

Last week was spent at the IBM InterConnect and Green Data Center conferences in Las Vegas and San Diego respectively. At each of the conferences, there were a ton of great conversations around the CIO, cloud computing, social media, big data analytics and data centers. While more details will come out in future posts, a common theme became crystal clear. We are squarely in a period of extreme disruption and no amount of Dramamine will settle the tides. The needs of the many far outweigh the needs of one, two, or three.

The power of social media

Social media plays a central role to gather our collective thoughts and banter. The conversations that ensue will further the development of innovation through the development of new ideas and critiques. However, today, we are only scratching the surface with social. Many of the ‘conversations’ happening across social media are one-way conversations usually sharing information, but with little interaction. The vast majority of tweets coming from the conferences are either a promotion or sound bite overheard during a session or conversation. In addition, there is quite a bit of ‘noise’ that contributes to the confusion. If one were to try and follow the threads, it would appear an eclectic mix of varied thoughts taken from some complex juxtaposition. A better approach is needed to improve the level of two-way engagement.

Cloud, the great equalizer

Cloud is very similar to social in terms of missed opportunities. Cloud presents the single-largest opportunity for organizations today regardless of size. At the InterConnect conference, cloud was in the forefront of many discussions. The challenge many had was how to effectively embrace and leverage cloud. Those tie back to a gap between the freeway and the on-ramps. We do not need more freeways, we need more on-ramps. Yet we continue to build new freeways.

Is it possible that cloud has gotten too far ahead of itself? One of the many discussions was that of the speed of innovation versus adoption. Is it possible we have reached a point where we are actually innovating too quickly without fully considering the ramifications? There is more to be written on this issue alone.

Understanding the customer

Ironically, much of this may go back to understanding the customer. For the vendor or provider, it is understanding who is buying (or should buy) the solution and why. It is about shifting from a transactional sale to a consultative one. That is easier said than done, as context is required to do so.

Enterprises are not immune from the confusion. According to a recent IBM survey of CEOs, 31% doubt c-suite executives understand the changes from customer and the marketplace. That is a huge number when looking across the entire c-suite. If the same question were asked of the CIO specifically, the number would most likely increase. That is not a good position considering the emphasis tech plays in the customer relationship today.

Changes in paradigms

The chasm may simply tie back to a difference in understanding evolution. The customer base is moving very quickly. For the past decade, the number of digital natives in the workplace has only increased. And they are having a strong influence on other generations. They are more familiar with technology and comfortable with rapid adoption. Yet the solutions we deliver leave them wanting.

Understanding the root of discomfort

And so the problem comes full-circle. As with any problem, it is important to understand the root of the issue. When I discuss this in detail with IT leaders and staff members the root issue comes back to uncertainty. There is a level of uncertainty with the solution, nerves, job loss and a general path forward.

Forging a path ahead

Change is hard. Change is confusing. Change is stress and burnout. And at the edge it kills. Think that is being a bit dramatic? Just read my friend John Willis’ moving post about Karojisatsu.

But change is not something we should fear. At this point, we must stick together and drive hard toward the future. Our very future depends on the success of our ability to adapt and change.

For the foreseeable future, the tech industry will continue to present confusion and uncertainty. Our ability to adapt and accept uncertainty is directly related to our ultimate success.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen takes back his old role of CEO

After pulling the strings from Dish Network’s boardroom for the last four years, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen is once again assuming the CEO’s mantle, replacing Joseph Clayton, who will retire on March 31. Ergen co-founded Dish more than 30 years ago and stepped down as CEO in June of 2011, but he’s remained quite active as chairman and has been particularly involved in Dish’s recent stockpiling of mobile spectrum. Dish has said it plans to those airwaves to create a new U.S. mobile carrier, and apparently Ergen wants to be back at the helm for that fundamental change in its business.

The CMO is not replacing the CIO and here’s why

Three years ago, Gartner predicted that by 2017, the CMO (chief marketing officer) would spend more on IT than the CIO. This one prediction spurned a number of follow-up predictions pointing toward the end of the CIO. The bottom line that everyone wants to know: Is the CIO role indeed going away? Is another c-level function replacing the CIO? And if so, who will take over the IT function?

Changes affect the entire IT ecosystem

It is not just the CIO and IT organization that are affected by a potential realignment of the IT function. Any change would have significant ramifications from people to vendors to architectures. No aspect of IT would be spared.

If IT were to go away or otherwise move to a different organization (or organizations), it would have a significant impact on how we think, operate and support the IT ecosystem. The focus would move to the immediate problem being solved for. However, the CIO and IT as a whole carry a broader responsibility that spans the entire enterprise.

The $64,000 question: What happens to the CIO & IT?

Before answering those looming questions, it is important to see the trends that drove these predictions. Looking back, there is absolutely a decline in IT demand. Specifically, demand for Traditional IT is in decline.

At the same time, the demand from marketing is stronger than ever. So, it makes sense that some of the waning demand may be transferred to marketing.

 

CIO CMO Short Term

Unfortunately, this only tells part of the story. If the story were to stop here, it would be easy to understand the logic behind the CMO taking over IT. As demand for the traditional CIO wanes, the CMO picks up and carries the function forward. The reality is this is only a very small part of the overall movement underway.

Transformational CIO on the upswing

The transformational CIO, unlike the traditional CIO, is in high-demand. In many cases, organizations do not understand what this means or what a transformational CIO looks like let along what they are capable of. A transformational CIO, unlike traditional CIO, is far more aligned with the business of the company. They are in-tune with how the company makes and spends money. They also look for opportunities around customer engagement and business growth. Transformational CIOs are more about business and data than they are about technology. In many ways, the transformational CIO is a business leader (first) that happens to have responsibility for IT.

Mapping the transformational CIO along with the traditional CIO and CMO brings the true picture into focus.

 

CIO CMO Transforming IT

One of the biggest challenges for transformation to take place requires all three components come together: The CIO, the IT organization and the rest of the company in terms of how they look at, leverage and engage IT. This evolution is referred to as the CIO’s Three-Legged Race.

One unfortunate point to make is that few traditional CIOs will have the mettle to truly transform into transformational CIOs. It can be done, but requires a level of intestinal fortitude well beyond that of many CIOs today.

Reporting structure for the CIO

Much of the change will come from the reporting structure of the CIO. Traditional IT organizations are often seen as a cost center and therefore report into the CFO. Transformational CIOs typically report directly to the CEO signaling the importance of IT (and the CIO) in leading the company. Consequently, a CIO reporting to the CMO may make sense temporarily, but not long term. The CIO’s prevue needs to be both broader and more strategic than any one function.

Every CMO I spoke with is not interested in taking on the IT responsibility. They are today, because they have, not because they want to.

The CIO is just getting started

Taking all of this into account, the role of the CIO is only starting to expand in ways it rarely has before. The same goes for IT. Sure, it may leverage a strong relationship with the CMO today. That is a very good thing! But it will evolve into a more impactful role that truly fills the qualifications for a seat at the CEO’s table.

 

CIO CMO Full Picture

Report: Uber raised a $1.6 billion convertible debt round

Uber clearly does not subscribe to the ‘mo money ‘mo problems theory. The company has raised another $1.6 billion dollars, this time in a convertible debt round from Goldman Sachs according to Bloomberg sources. It’s a loan that will turn into a stake in the company when Uber goes public, at a 20 to 30 percent discount on Uber’s IPO valuation. It adds to the company’s warchest, bringing its total funding up to more than $4 billion, with the company still working to raise another $600 million in the near future from hedge funds.

Here’s what Facebook wants to do with 1,200 more employees

Facebook is growing its head count by as much as 14 percent according to a new Reuters report. It has 1,200 open job listings on its website, mostly for virtual reality roles with Oculus Rift. It’s also hiring for its drones, data centers, and Atlas advertising efforts. None of the roles mentioned by Reuters support Facebook’s core business: Its social media application. Facebook is pulling a Google, expanding into new industries to protect itself.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed a sizeable bet that virtual reality will be the next big thing in mobile computing when he bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion in March last year. That’s exactly what he told media, explaining, “When you put on the goggles, it’s different from anything I have ever experienced in my life.” Oculus has stayed pretty quiet since coming under Facebook’s purview, but Reuters analysts suspect the big staff up in positions like logistics and global supply management mean the company is getting ready to launch to the public.

If you don’t follow the company closely, you might be confused at the positions Facebook is hiring for to support its drone technology development: Roles like thermal engineering and aircraft electronics. Remember Internet.org, Facebook’s big ambitious project to bring Internet connections to parts of the developing world? That’s what it hopes to use drones for, and it needs people with expertise in these areas to make that happen. If Internet.org succeeds it will ultimately benefit Facebook. Reliable, fast internet in more parts of the world — the two thirds of the population currently without Internet — likely means far more Facebook (and WhatsApp and Instagram) users.

In the last few years, Facebook has moved quickly and deftly into these new business endeavors, not content to rest on its cooling social media laurels. It has grown largely through acquisition, snapping up separate, independent companies and product like Oculus, Atlas Ad Server, WhatsApp, and Instagram, instead of trying to build them from scratch. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is investing in Facebook’s future stability and growth, a smart move given the fact that its core social product has faded in relevance with younger populations. Eventually teens grow up and become the new adults, slowly decreasing Facebook’s power over time.

It needed to diversify to ensure its future.

 

 

 

No, you really do need a CIO…and now!

For those that follow my writing, this post may have a familiar ring to it. Unfortunately, there is a reason I’m writing about this yet again as the point still eludes many.

The curious case of Acme Inc

Take a recent example for Acme Inc (company name changed). Acme is a mid-sized organization without a CIO. I spoke with the CEO and another member of the executive team that were trying to solve tactical technology and information problems on their own. In this case, Acme is experiencing solid growth of 50% CAGR. They believed they were being strategic in their technology decisions. The truth was far from it. It was painfully apparent they were way out of their wheelhouse, but didn’t realize it. In a way, they were naive that the decisions they were making were locking them into a path where, near-term, the company would not remain competitive. But they didn’t know that. They were looking to solve a technology problem to support their immediate growth trajectory without thoughtfulness of the opportunity. They were also relying too heavily on their technology providers whom they believed had the company in their best interests. Unfortunately, this is not a fictitious story of what could happen to a fictitious company. It is a real situation that occurred with a real company. And sadly it is one of many.

Trust is incredibly important in business today. There is no question. But as one mentor once taught me many years ago: Trust, but verify. In the immortal words of Deming “In God we trust, all others bring data.”

What is a CIO?

What is a CIO and do I need one? This is a question that many chief executives ask as their business evolves. I addressed a similar question about the CDO in ‘Rise of the CDO…do you need one?’ last year.

For small to mid-size enterprises, the conversation is not taking place soon enough. Many are still contemplating how to task the IT manager or director with more responsibility. Or worse yet, the responsibilities are being shared across the executive team. In one example outlined below, the results can be catastrophic.

So, when do you get your first CIO? And if you have a CIO, do you still need one? Isn’t the CIO’s role simply about managing the computers? In a word, no.

Do I need a CIO?

The short answer to this is yes. From small to large enterprises, the need for a CIO is greater today than ever before. Many will see a CIO and their organization as a cost center that eats into the bottom line. If so, that is a very short-sided view. Today’s CIO is very strategic in nature.

More than ever, business relies heavily on technology. But more than the technology itself, it is how it is applied and leveraged that makes the difference. The how relies heavily on context around business value and applicability. It requires someone, the CIO, to make the connection between business value across multiple disciplines and the technology itself.

Can other executives provide this capability? No. They can provide a different caliber of tactical implementation, but not the cross-functional strategic perspective that a CIO brings to the table. And it is this cross-functional strategic perspective that brings significant value to differentiate companies.

Information is the currency of business. It is what drives business decisions that will affect the success and failures across a myriad of dimensions. The CIO is the best position to understand, drive and expose value from information. The value of the information

What does CIO stand for?

This seems like a perennial subject. What does the ‘I’ in CIO stand for? Information? Innovation? Inspiration? Integration? The bottom line is that the I stands for the same thing is has always stood for; Information. Today’s business is driven by information. Technology is simply an enabler to leverage information. Integration, innovation, etc are all functional means to drive the value of information to a company.

If information is gold, what is technology? Technology is similar to the mining and refining equipment to extract and process the gold. Without it, the gold may be discovered, but in small quantities using ineffective means. A major factor in today’s business is speed. Access to information quickly is paramount.

The evolving role of the CIO

The CIO’s role (past and present) is far more complicated that many appreciate. A CIO is really a business leader that happens to have responsibility for IT. In addition, a CIO is really a CEO with a technology focus. A CIO is strategically focused and able to traverse the entire organization at the C-level. That last attribute requires a level of experience very different from the traditional CIO.

In the case of Acme, a CIO would be a great asset moving forward.

Reddit CEO resigns and is replaced temporarily by Ellen Pao

Reddit’s CEO for the past three years, Yishan Wong, is out according to a new post by Y-Combinator head Sam Altman. Altman claims the resignation is the result of a dispute between Wong and the board about new office property and the budget for it.