×

Meet the man running Twitter. (Hint: It’s not Jack Dorsey.)

COO Anthony Noto is the last man standing.

Anthony Noto onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on May 1, 2013 in New York City.
Brian Ach | Getty Images for TechCrunch
Anthony Noto onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on May 1, 2013 in New York City.

Anthony Noto's influence is rising inside Twitter.

There isn't much that's super clear at Twitter these days, including its future as a standalone company, but Noto's expanded role and increased importance is hard to overlook.

More from Recode:
These were Bill Gates's five favorite books of the year
What is the Apple Car? Even Apple doesn't know.
Silicon Valley is a bubble. Here's how it can respond to Trump.

In fact, Twitter has spent the past six months showing us how valuable Noto is. Here's what we know.

  • Noto's role is expanding. The former Goldman banker will soon be giving up his CFO title in exchange for the COO position following the departure of Adam Bain, which means running all of Twitter's revenue-generating teams, including ads, partnerships, and business development. And that's big given that Twitter's ad business has not been able to mask its user growth issues this year the way it has in the past. It's now Noto's job to help fix things, and keep Wall Street off Twitter's back.
  • Noto is running the company's most important user growth effort: Livestreaming video. Twitter's entire livestreaming operation rolls up into Noto, and he even built his own team inside the company to build the livestreaming product and sign the content deals. Noto is a major reason Twitter locked up a deal with the NFL to stream "Thursday Night Football" games — he was once CFO of the National Football League — and sources say that he's been the driver of this entire effort, which has been Twitter's most significant product and marketing push this year.
  • Noto is getting paid. As part of his new role, Noto will get a $12 million annual raise, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission late on the day before Thanksgiving. Noto was already paid handsomely, something that isn't lost on many Twitter employees we've spoken to over the years, so Twitter's willingness to boost that number even higher shows how much the company wants to keep him around for whatever Twitter's next phase may be.

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey came back to the company he founded late last year, we wrote that Dorsey would need to be the one to save Twitter from its downward spiral. It's been more than a year, and Dorsey is still just Twitter's part-time CEO — he's simultaneously running payments company Square and has been ever since taking the Twitter job back last fall. He may well be the person needed to save Twitter, but only if you believe Twitter's biggest challenge is a product one. (Many people still do, and Dorsey has a reputation as a product savant.)

But if you share the belief that Twitter's user growth is done for good, and the company will only ever add a few million new users here and few million more there, then Noto's role takes on even more importance.

He's an operator, and those who have worked with him say he's a get-shit-done kind of leader who doesn't drag his feet or waver on decisions. Noto is straight to the point. He tends to plow projects through, a style likely carried over from his days at the U.S. Military Academy, where he also played football.

The downside of this ready-set-go approach, of course, is that you'd better be pushing the right ideas. The livestreaming efforts have garnered attention, but it's hard to imagine these streams will dramatically alter Twitter's user growth. Just 15 percent of people watching the NFL on Twitter are logged out users — which means the majority of the audience already uses the service. Noto's running the most important product push at the company, but is this the right push?

There are other questions for Noto, too, like how effective will he be at running a sales organization? Twitter has a sales VP, Matt Derella, who will handle the day-to-day of the org, but Bain was always hands on with Twitter's ad partners. Will Noto be the same? We don't know.

But we do know that he has his hands all over Twitter's future.

By KURT WAGNER, Recode.net.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.