19. Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter - Most Powerful People in Wireless


Dick Costolo, CEO, TwitterWhat makes him powerful: Forget Democrats and Republicans: Twitter won the 2012 election cycle. At a recent seminar exploring social media's influence on the U.S. presidential race, Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor for The Atlantic, cited the example of a tweet from challenger Mitt Romney in which he joked that no one had ever asked to see his birth certificate. Within four minutes the tweet was posted on Politico's website, video was available on Buzzfeed after five minutes, and the Romney team issued a statement clarifying the tweet within 21 minutes. "We have shifted from a 24-hours news cycle to a 140-character one," Twitter's head of government, news and social innovation Adam Sharp tells The Guardian.

Twitter's impact on how society disseminates, consumes and analyzes information is truly unprecedented--the platform's global dialogue encompasses politics, pop culture and everything in between, and the buzz shows no signs of quieting down anytime soon. During CEO Dick Costolo's time at the company's helm, published tweets have increased to 400 million per day, doubling from 200 million just a year ago. As of August 2012, Twitter's daily active mobile users across the U.S. exceed 6.8 million, up 24 percent in six months according to comScore, and its mobile advertising business is booming as well, trumping profits derived from desktop ads on most days. This year Twitter expanded its Promoted Accounts service to its applications for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, also rolling out new targeting options enabling brands to reach consumers according to their mobile device model. eMarketer forecasts Twitter could generate $444 million in annual revenues from smartphone and tablet ads by 2014.

But Twitter is at a crossroads. Fearing cannibalization from client apps that mimic or reproduce its consumer experience, Twitter in September released an updated version of its API instituting strict new guidelines limiting how third-party developers leverage its platform, giving them six months to comply with the changes, which include new user caps, display guidelines, on-device certification requirements and other restrictions. As of March 5, 2013, endpoints in the previous Twitter API version 1.0 will no longer be available, effectively shutting off the platform to apps that have not made the necessary revisions. Many developers expressed anger and dismay over the new API rules, and some have even petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential antitrust violations.

The motivations behind Twitter's actions are simple: Costolo and his team believe they can deliver more interactive content, serve more engaging ads and more effectively measure campaign performance if users communicate via the company's official apps. Doing so nevertheless jeopardizes its standing with a developer ecosystem that has been vital to Twitter's growth and reach. While the full impact of the move likely will remain unclear until the March deadline passes, it's obvious that the Twitter of 2013 will look and feel dramatically different from the platform as it exists today. Twitter may be the place where politicians go to crack wise, but Costolo isn't kidding around.--Jason

Special Report: Top 25 Most Powerful People in U.S. Wireless 2012