BY SUPANTHA MUKHERJEE AND LEHAR MAAN
(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) named Anthony Noto as CFO, putting the well-regarded former Goldman Sachs (GS.N) executive who led its successful November IPO in charge of finances. Twitter shares rose as much as 4.8 percent after the messaging service announced its latest upper-management shake-up. The previous CFO, Mike Gupta, was named senior vice president of strategic investments on Tuesday.
Twitter has reported lackluster user and usage growth for the last couple of quarters and its stock price has nearly halved in the last six months.
Last month, Twitter Chief Operating Officer Ali Rowghani departed after clashing with Chief Executive Dick Costolo over whether he should continue to oversee product innovation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Chloe Sladden, vice president of media, also departed recently.
With Noto in the CFO seat, Twitter hopes to better explain its business opportunities to Wall Street, a person familiar with the matter said.
“Anthony has got a pretty good finger on the pulse of the Street,” the person said.
A former Army ranger and National Football League executive, Noto, 46, started as an analyst at Goldman and later became a managing director in the investment firm’s technology, media and telecom investment banking group.
Noto, who was among a number of analysts who touted stocks like Webvan and eToys that collapsed during the 2000 dotcom bust, won plaudits for netting Twitter’s coveted IPO in 2013 and handling its smooth market debut. He was crowned the top-rated Internet analyst for five years in a row by Institutional Investor magazine in the mid-2000s.
Noto’s move to Twitter comes roughly six weeks after reports that he was leaving Goldman Sachs to join hedge fund Coatue Management. Instead, Noto began working at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Tuesday.
Hudson Square analyst Daniel Ernst said Noto’s experience as CFO at the NFL should help Twitter gain more ground in television and advertising.
“He just brings a different skill set. A set that really has very high level view of the competitive landscape, he understands very well what the investment community is looking for given his previous role,” Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter said.
Gupta, who joined Twitter in 2012 from social gaming company Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O), will oversee a new effort to invest in start-up companies, similar to Google Inc’s (GOOGL.O) (GOOG.O) in-house venture capital arm Google Ventures.
Noto will receive an annual salary of $250,000 and one-time restricted stock options of 1.5 million shares, Twitter said in a filing. As of Monday’s close, those options were valued at $61.5 million.
Twitter went public in November at $26 a share. The stock rose to a high of $74.73 in December.
Shares rose as high as $42.95 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday before easing back to $42.71 by late morning.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Lehar Maan in Bangalore; Additional reporting byAlexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Don Sebastian and Sofina Mirza-Reid)