Flipboard CEO McCue Likely to Step Down From Twitter Board Over Potential Future Conflicts (Or Closer Cooperation)
According to sources close to the situation, Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue has approached Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and co-founder Jack Dorsey about moving off the board of Twitter.
It is not clear when McCue — who became a director of the San Francisco social communications company in late 2010 — will step down, but it could come soon.
The reason, sources said, is McCue’s growing feeling that the companies are on a product collision course, with a possible troubled or perhaps more attractive result.
In other words, Flipboard will either face increasing rivalry from Twitter or will end up as a possible acquisition target for it or other companies.
“How users consume and use Twitter is a key part of its future, and that is what Flipboard does well already,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. “There is going to be an inevitable crossroads for the two companies.”
The goal has been to better make sense of the massive amount of data that the service produces daily; to that end, Twitter has pushed to improve its user interface design on a number of devices.
And Twitter is a big part of Flipboard’s app, which is very dependent on the tweet feed and accounts for 70 percent of its links, sources said.
Flipboard is also more of a “mobile first” company, which is where Twitter is also headed even more aggressively.
That’s why, in addition to being a rival, it is also an obvious acquisition target for Twitter, as well as others such as Yahoo and Microsoft.
In fact, Google already tried to buy it last year, before Flipboard did a massive $50 million fundraising round that valued it at $200 million.
Its investors include Insight Venture Partners, Comcast’s venture arm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures and a spate of well known angels, such as Dorsey, Facebook co-founder and Asana dude Dustin Moskovitz, Ron Conway, actor Ashton Kutcher and the investment company of former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin.
Co-founded by longtime entrepreneur McCue (Netscape, Tellme) and former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll, Flipboard launched to much attention in mid 2010.
Its innovative social magazine concept is attempting to make the social networking universe more accessible, consumable and, perhaps most importantly, visually arresting via its rich app.
Essentially, Flipboard pulls information from media RSS feeds and sites such as Twitter and Facebook data streams and then reassembles it in an easy-to-navigate personalized format.
Google has mounted a competitor, called Currents, as has Yahoo with its Livestand offering, neither of which have gotten much traction. In fact, sources said, Yahoo is likely to shut Livestand down completely.
There have also been a spate of other similar readers, such as Pulse and Zite.
Spokespersons for both Flipboard and Twitter politely declined comment.