Twitter to leave empty CTO post unfilled

CTO Greg Pass leaves the social networking company, no hunt planned for replacement

Twitter's CTO left the company last week and there's no move afoot to replace him.

The microblogging site's Chief Technology Officer Greg Pass left the position and the company last week. Pass was with Twitter during some key growth years, arriving at the company in 2008 when Twitter bought his company, Summize, a Twitter search engine.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone tweeted about Pass' departure last Friday, writing, "Twitter acquired Summize three years ago, cofounder @gregpass is moving on -- we're lucky to have had him so long!"

In an email to Computerworld today, Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner said, "We aren't looking for a replacement, and Greg doesn't have any plans for what's next." No explanation was given for his departure.

She also said the company is not moving people around in-house to fill the spot. It is simply leaving the company's CTO position empty.

That's an odd move, according to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group.

"I do think that's odd," he said. "Any tech company's ability to survive long term is based on its ability to continually innovate ... It seems very odd for Twitter to not want to fill that role as fast as possible. Do they think they're in a strong enough position that they don't need it? But I can't actually believe any tech company wouldn't have the required level of healthy paranoia to have a CTO."

Kerravala noted that there might be something else afoot. Twitter may be looking at an acquisition, and much like it did when it bought Summize, it might be planning on filling some spots with new blood.

However, Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said it's possible that Twitter is just going to let its team of engineers lead itself.

"The CTO is a front person, representing the company's technology to the outside world," he added. "One person cannot define all the technology... Key technical work is done in teams. There are leaders and people of superior technical skill, but it's still a team process."

Gottheil also said Twitter probably has the skilled staff it needs.

"I would guess that Twitter has one or more key technical people who do not want to be up front but don't want to be subordinate," he noted. "Well, they have, or will have, someone or more precisely a group of someones, to do those critical [CTO] tasks."

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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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)

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