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Twitter Shuffles Top Brass With New COO and CFO Appointments

Joi Ito/Flickr Newly dubbed Twitter COO Ali Rowghani

In a move that shuffles some of the highest ranking members of the microblogging start-up’s executive team, Ali Rowghani has been named chief operating officer of Twitter, according to a change in his Twitter profile, shifting into the role that CEO Dick Costolo once held only a few years ago.

Rowghani, who has been with the company since 2010, came to Twitter to act as chief financial officer after leaving the same role he held at Walt Disney Company’s Pixar animation studios. He was at Pixar for more than nine years, serving as CFO for half that time.

Update 7 pm PT: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo just confirmed the news via tweet: “Congratulations to @rowghani on his new role as COO and to @mgupta on his new role as CFO.”

Rowghani has often been noted as the quiet, behind-the-scenes body man to Twitter CEO Costolo, taking on far more operational responsibilities than that of typical CFOs. Rowghani has had his hand in many important areas of the business, including contributing ideas around Twitter’s Promoted Suite of ad products, a key component of the company’s monetization efforts.

So effectively, Rowghani as COO is less of a new role than it is a solidification of his current efforts — a title change, as it were.

Newly dubbed Twitter CFO Mike Gupta

Former Zynga treasurer Mike Gupta will slide into Rowghani’s CFO slot, according to Gupta’s updated Twitter profile. Gupta spent a little more than a year in the role at Zynga, and was previously a high-ranking exec at Yahoo, where he played an instrumental part in Yahoo’s search and online partnership deals with Microsoft.

Twitter did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

The shuffle also comes on the heels of a major departure for Twitter, as VP of Growth Othman Laraki announced his departure from the company via tweet on Wednesday evening. Laraki was responsible for growing Twitter’s user base over the past year, which the company seems to have achieved; on Wednesday, Twitter announced it had reached the 200 million active user mark. He did not name his next landing point, though I assume he’ll be taking some time off, as he and his wife just had their first child.

The changes in the top ranks have been some time coming, as Twitter has spent the past year reorganizing the company into different teams, headed by high-profile tech hires stolen from other big companies around Silicon Valley (Google perhaps being the prime poaching target).

Earlier in the summer, Twitter snapped up Google sales guy Richard Alfonsi to become VP of global online sales, wrangling in most of the small and medium sized businesses that make of the long tail of Twitter’s ad business. Michael Sippey left SAY Media in January to head up Twitter’s VP of consumer product role, while Chris Fry and Adam Messinger were poached from Salesforce and Oracle, respectively, now holding VP of engineering posts.

Former VP of Growth Othman Laraki

Part of the question the company must face now, as Twitter has swelled from a few hundred employees to upwards of 1500, is how the company will cultivate and maintain its culture, given that many new hires come from rival tech giants in Silicon Valley.

Another potential pitfall is Twitter’s ability to hold on to key talent, as top figures like Laraki may prefer to leave the company after only a handful of years, opting instead to pursue the entrepreneurial route and build a new start-up. (Facebook, too, has this challenge to deal with.)

But it’s also another series of hires on Twitter’s long road in preparation for an IPO — which could potentially come in the next two years — solidifying key executive positions and building out the different divisions of the company under them.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo