Twitter chief operating officer and Jack Dorsey’s number 2, Anthony Noto, has resigned and sent the social network’s stock tumbling 3.9%. Noto has left Twitter on good terms to take on the role of chief executive officer at financial technology firm Social Finance Inc. (SoFi).
That anyone at all is surprised by this is a surprise in itself. Noto has been with Twitter since 2014 when he was hired by then CEO Dick Costolo. The two had already shared an excellent working relationship, as Noto had been working as Twitter’s primary banker during his time at Goldman Sachs. Importantly, Noto had left Goldmans once before, to take over as CFO of the National Football League (NFL) a position he held for only two years before returning to Goldman Sachs.
Since Costolo’s departure, Noto has been the outgoing, action-based ying to Jack Dorsey’s stoic and insular yang. He will likely be remembered as being pivotal in Twitter’s decision to move to live video, seeing the writing on the wall and insisting to both Dorsey and the board that the evolution of live video was something that Twitter needed to lead on.
But internally, it’s more likely that Noto will be remembered as the rock during times of upheaval. Never afraid to tell the truth, he would front team meetings and field direct questions from staff, especially during the CEO transition when Dorsey took back the reins of the company he founded.
But Noto is a banker, and Sofi presents a perfect scenario for him. He has, quite publicly, stated his ambition to become a CEO, most likely on the hope that Dorsey would choose to hand the company over to him – with that unlikely, he was sure to pursue other opportunities.
SoFi has experienced upheaval of its own, with founder and CEO Mike Cagney being ousted in late 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct and a culture rife with indecency.
The company itself, however, is stable. It has good market uptake, an excellent product which can be enhanced further and plenty of tier 1 investors who are eager to make it work. It means that Noto can enter as CEO with work to do, but not as part of a rescue mission. Most important to him quite possibly, will be a return to an industry that he is passionate about. SoFi Has stated ambitions before of becoming a bank in its own right, and it is likely that this was the pitch that pushed Noto across the line.