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WHEN: Today, Tuesday, November 17th
WHERE: CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report" (M-F, 12PM-1PM ET) today.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
SCOTT WAPNER: OKAY, SUE. WE ARE JOINED EXCLUSIVELY BY FORMER TWITTER CEO DICK COSTOLO, AND IT IS HIS FIRST TV INTERVIEW SINCE LEAVING THAT COMPANY. IT'S GOOD TO SEE YOU. THANKS FOR COMING ON.
DICK COSTOLO: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
WAPNER: FORMER. ARE YOU STILL GETTING USED TO THAT OR WHAT?
COSTOLO: I TRY TO UNDERPLAY THAT WORD. MUMBLE IT.
WAPNER: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CURRENT CEO WHY IS JACK DORSEY THE RIGHT GUY RIGHT NOW TO LEAD THIS COMPANY?
COSTOLO: IT IS PRETTY SIMPLE JACK SPEAKS WITH THE FLUENCY AND THE MORAL AUTHORITY OF THE INVENTOR OF THE PRODUCT. AND I THINK IF YOU ASKED ANYONE INSIDE THE COMPANY OR AROUND THE COMPANY WHAT DOES THE COMPANY NEED TO FOCUS ON AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE FOCUSING ON RIGHT NOW? THEY WOULD SAY THE CORE PRODUCT. JACK IS THE GUY. HE IS INSPIRATIONAL. THE TEAM LOVES WORKING FOR HIM. HE IS A GREAT EDITOR OF THE PRODUCT. JACK HAS SPOKEN FREQUENTLY ABOUT THINKING OF HIS ROLE AS AN EDITOR. HE IS FANTASTIC AT LISTENINGING TO IDEAS THAT COME IN FROM ANYWHERE. BUT THEN GIVING GREAT FEEDBACK BACK TO THE TEAM ON EDITING THOSE CHOICES DOWN. I THINK HE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL IN THAT ROLE.
WAPNER: SO THAT MAY ALL BE TRUE. HE ALSO HAPPENS TO HAVE ANOTHER JOB, HOWEVER, AND THAT IS RUNNING SQUARE. YOU WERE ON THE BOARD WHEN THE BOARD SAID IT WAS IMPORTANT THAT THE PERSON WHO GOT THE JOB WAS GOING TO BE SOLELY FOCUSED ON TWITTER. WHY IS THAT DIFFERENT TODAY?
COSTOLO: WHEN WE LOOKED AT THE CHARACTERISTICS THAT WE WANTED FROM THE CEO OF THE COMPANY, IT WAS SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTOOD THE PRODUCT DEEPLY AND COULD MAKE THE KIND OF IMPROVEMENTS AND EDITS TO THE PRODUCT THAT WE NEEDED TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. THE ANSWER ALWAYS CAME BACK AS JACK TO THAT. AGAIN, BECAUSE HE HAS THE MORAL AUTHORITY OF THE INVENTOR OF THE PRODUCT, AND HE SPEAKS SO FLUENTLY AND ELEQUENTLY ABOUT WHAT IT NEEDS.
WAPNER: THE SEARCH TOOK SEEMINGLY FOREVER. MORE THAN 100 DAYS. THERE'S A SUGGESTION –
COSTOLO: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 100 DAYS AND SEEMINGLY FOREVER.
WAPNER: OK THERE WAS A --
COSTOLO: THREE MONTHS.
WAPNER: THERE WAS A SUGGESTION AND THERE STILL IS THAT THE JOB WAS HARD TO FILL, AND NOBODY WANTED THE JOB, AND THEN THAT'S WHY HE GOT THE JOB.
COSTOLO: NO THAT'S NONSENSE. THE BOARD WANTED TO TALK TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE. IT WANTED TO CAST A WIDE NET. IT WANTED TO BE VERY THOROUGH IN THE KINDS OF FOLKS IT TALKED TO. THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT INTEREST IN THE ROLE FROM A VARIETY OF EXECUTIVES, BUT, AGAIN, AT THE END OF THE DAY WE CAME BACK TO JACK IS THE PERSON THAT BEST UNDERSTANDS WHAT WE NEED.
WAPNER: WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR TWITTER TO GROW MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS? THE METRIC THAT WALL STREET AND INVESTORS ARE FOCUSED MOST ON.
COSTOLO: WELL, I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT TWITTER AS A COMPANY, WE TALK ABOUT ITS INFLUENCE AND REACH. THESE NETWORKS ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT. YOU END UP COMPARING THEM TO EACH OTHER BECAUSE ONE OF THEM FACEBOOK WENT PUBLIC EARLIER AND THAT'S THE METRIC THEY LAUNCHED WITH MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS. EVERYTHING GETS TALKED ABOUT IN THAT CONTEXT. BUT THE REALITY IS THE INFLUENCE OF THE TWITTER NETWORK AND THE RESILIENCE OF THE TWITTER NETWORK BY WHICH I MEAN THE STRENGTH OF THE NOTES AND THE NETWORK AND THE QUALITY OF THEM AND HOW FAR AND WIDE THAT CONTENT IS BROADCAST, IS INCREDIBLE. YOU CAN'T WAKE UP OR GO THROUGH YOUR DAY WITHOUT SEEING TWITTER CONTENT ON TV, IN THE NEWSPAPER, ON OTHER WEB SITES, ON OTHER MOBILE APPS THAT WILL CONTINUE TO BE THE CASE, AND THAT REACH IS ONLY GROWING. IT'S INCUMBENT ON THE TEAM AND THE COMPANY TO EXTRACT THE VALUE FROM THAT REACH, AND THEY NEED TO DO THAT.
WAPNER: THE HEADLINES LATELY SAY THINGS LIKE THIS. TWITTER LOSES ITS STRATEGIC FOCUS. JACK WAS ADAMANT WHEN HE GOT THE JOB THAT HE DIDN'T THINK A SHIFT IN STRATEGY WAS NEEDED. DO YOU AGREE?
COSTOLO: TWITTER HAS, AGAIN -- IT'S GOT THIS ENORMOUS REACH. BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF USERS THAT IT REACHES, ON THE PLATFORM AND ACROSS THE WEB AND MOBILE APPS. IT'S GOT THREE OF THE TOP 100 APPS IN THE APP STORE. TWO OF THEM NATIVE MOBILE VIDEO APPS. THE FUTURE OF MEDIA IN VINE AND PERISCOPE AND THEN THE CORE TWITTER PRODUCT, AND IT HAS A DEVELOPER PLATFORM AND FABRIC THAT'S IN USE BY THOUSANDS OF APPS AND BILLIONS OF USERS. IT'S A RESILIENT COMPANY. IT'S A RESILIENT PLATFORM. I'M CONFIDENT THE TEAM WILL CAPTURE THE VALUE.
WAPNER: DID YOU HAVE ANY CONVERSATIONS AT ALL WHEN YOU WERE STILL THERE ABOUT AN ACQUISITION BEING ACQUIRED BY GOOGLE, BEING ACQUIRED BY ANYBODY ELSE?
COSTOLO: I'M NOT GOING TO GO INTO DISCUSSIONS WE HAD ON THE BOARD SPECIFIC DISCUSSIONS. THE WAY I WOULD CHARACTERIZE THAT IS TO SAY THAT EVERYONE ON THE BOARD FELT STRONGLY THAT TWITTER CAN BE A VIBRANT, INDEPENDENT COMPANY.
WAPNER: DO YOU THINK A YEAR FROM NOW TWITTER WILL BE A VIBRANT YOU'RE NO LONGER ON THE BOARD YOU CAN SPEAK FREELY.
COSTOLO: I TURN OUT TO BE PARTICULARLY BAD AT PREDICTIONS BECAUSE I RECALL WHEN AMAZON LAUNCHED AUCTIONS IN THE LATE 1990s. THAT'S IT FOR EBAY. I'M NOT A PARTICULARLY GOOD PROGNOSTICATOR. I'LL STAY AWAY FROM THAT ONE.
WAPNER: AS YOU SORT OF LOOK BACK, YOU WERE AT THE HELM FOR FIVE YEARS, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY? BOB PECK, WELL KNOWN AND WELL RESPECTED ANALYST OF SUN TRUST CAME ON OUR PROGRAM AND SAID COSTOLO WILL BE GONE WITHIN 12 MONTHS IF THINGS DON'T TURN AROUND. AS YOU LOOK BACK --
COSTOLO: I APPRECIATE THAT HE PROSE ANNOUNCED MY NAME CORRECTLY. THAT'S WHAT REALLY GETS ME.
WAPNER: FIRST OF ALL, DID YOU – WERE YOU AWARE THAT HE HAD SAID THAT?
COSTOLO: SURE, OF COURSE.
WAPNER: AND WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
COSTOLO: I THINK, YOU KNOW, I HAVE A TENDENCY TO BRUSH THOSE THINGS OFF AND SAY WE NEED TO REMAIN INTERNALLY FOCUSED ON THE PRIORITIES WE HAVE IN THIS COMPANY. IN FACT, I WOULD CONSISTENTLY TELL THE COMPANY, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE NOISE AROUND US, WE NEED TO STAY FOCUSED ON THESE PRIORITIES WE'VE DECIDED EXECUTE AGAINST. THE CHALLENGE IS FROM A RECRUITING PERSPECTIVE, YOU HAVE RECRUITERS WHO START TO CALL PEOPLE THAT ARE THINKING ABOUT COMING TO THE COMPANY AND THEY SAY, HEY, DID YOU JUST SEE WHAT THIS GUY SAID ON CNBC? DICK MIGHT NOT – YOU'RE GOING THERE TO WORK FOR DICK. HE MIGHT NOT EVEN BE THERE IN A YEAR.
WAPNER: BUT THAT WAS REFLECTIVE OF THE OVERALL SORT OF TONE OF WHERE INVESTORS HAD BEEN AND THE ANALYSTS HAD BEEN COMING FROM.
COSTOLO: SURE, I'M JUST SAYING THAT IN HINDSIGHT, I WOULD HAVE PAID A LITTLE BIT MORE ATTENTION TO THAT INSTEAD OF SAYING, WELL WHO CARES? WE HAVE TO DO JUST WHAT WE NEED TO DO.
WAPNER: SO LET ME ASK YOU, FINALLY – IN THE WAKE OF WHAT WE SAW IN PARIS AND THE TERROR ATTACKS THERE. AND THE SUGGESTION THAT SOME MAY BE USING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS, LIKE TWITTER, LIKE OTHER PLATFORMS, VIDEO GAMES, TO EITHER COMMUNICATE OR PLOT ATTACKS. WHAT RESPONSIBILITY DO YOU THINK TWITTER AND OTHER COMPANIES HAVE TO SHARE INFORMATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT IF THAT, IN FACT, IS THE CASE.
COSTOLO: OF COURSE, IT'S ALWAYS – THAT'S ALWAYS A BALANCE. I WOULD SAY THAT THOSE ARE NUANCED DISCUSSIONS. THERE'S A BALANCE THERE. AND THERE ARE, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, LOTS OF ONGOING CONVERSATIONS IN THAT REGARD THAT YOU CAN'T – I CAN'T AND NO ONE INSIDE ANY OF THESE COMPANIES CAN TALK PUBLICLY.
WAPNER: DO YOU THINK THAT COMPANIES ARE DOING ENOUGH?
COSTOLO: I WOULD SAY THAT ANY OF THESE COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS, AND YOU JUST NAMED SEVERAL OF THEM, ARE GOING TO BE – THAT PROVIDE ANYONE IN THE WORLD WITH A MICROPHONE, ARE GOING TO BE LEVERAGED FOR ATTEMPTS AT NEFARIOUS PURPOSES. AND SO YOU JUST HAVE TO BE COGNIZANT OF THAT AND UNDERSTAND THAT THAT MAY BE HAPPENING AND BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT IT.
WAPNER: DO YOU THINK COMPANIES ARE DOING ENOUGH, HOWEVER ,TO STOP IT?
COSTOLO: I DO. I THINK THAT COMPANIES ARE DOING WHAT THEY NEED TO DO AND BEING AS THOUGHTFUL AS THEY NEED TO BE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT COMMUNICATION. I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT, YOU KNOW, IT'S FREQUENTLY THE CASE THAT THESE PLATFORMS ARE CALLED OUT AS, WELL, THIS IS THE SOURCE OF A BUNCH OF RUMORS, THAT FALSE INFORMATION THAT HAPPENED IN THE AFTERMATH OF THIS EVENT. BUT THAT'S ALWAYS THE CASE IN THE CHAOTIC AFTERMATH OF THESE EVENTS. BEFORE TWITTER OR FACEBOOK OR ANY OF THESE PLATFORMS EXISTED. IN THE WAKE OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBINGS, WE WOULD HEAR ON THE NEWS, YOU KNOW, THE AUTHORITIES ARE LOOKING FOR SIX MEN OF THIS KIND OF ETHNIC DESCENT IN A STATION WAGON, AND OF COURSE, THE REALITY WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
WAPNER: YOU STILL HOLDING A FAIR AMOUNT OF TWITTER SHARES?
COSTOLO: YES, SIGNIFICANT.
WAPNER: HAVEN'T SOLD ANY SINCE YOU LEFT?
COSTOLO: I AM – THE VAST MAJORITY OF MY PERSONAL AND FAMILIES NET WORTH IS IN TWITTER STOCK.
WAPNER: IS THAT A REFLECTION OF YOUR CONTINUED BELIEF IN THE COMPANY, WHERE IT WILL BE A YEAR, TWO YEARS FROM NOW?
COSTOLO: I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN TWITTER, THE COMPANY. I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN JACK AND A BIG BELIEVER IN THE TEAM HE HAS AROUND HIM.
WAPNER: IT IS GOOD TO SEE YOU.
COSTOLO: IT'S GREAT TO SEE YOU. THANKS FOR HAVING ME.
WAPNER: THAKNS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US. DICK COSTOLO, HE IS OF COURSE, THE FORMER CEO OF TWITTER.
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