Twitter Acquisition Of Posterous Seems Presposterous

From a talent acquisition, people development and talent management perspective, I am hoping that the Twitter acquisition of Posterous is prosperous. failwhale errorpageDick Costolo, a former Google Executive, is the third CEO of Twitter, and that is a high CEO turnover rate if you consider that the business launched in 2006. Twitter is coming out of its own people management problems. It is bold for them to make an acquisition driven by acquiring the talented people in the target company. Typically an acquisition is about chasing the target company’s technology or client base, not the people who make up the target company. This says something about Dick Costolo’s leadership style and the vision for Twitter.


For the number crunchers who motivate any form of M&A (Mergers And Acquisition) activity, an acquisition based on “talent” might sound preposterous. While we all have heard the cliché’ “People are a business’s most important asset”, the number crunchers would argue that is not technically true, given people are not valued anywhere on the Balance Sheet, nor are they part of the variables in any valuation model. If anything, traditionally with most acquisitions, what gets overlooked is the people culture fit after the transaction, which destroys any other calculated synergy envisaged when there is an organisational culture clash.


Dick Costolo is the longest serving CEO at Twitter and his leadership seems to have steadied what was a volatile people management culture into a more sustainable one. He recruited the right talent, embarked on a path of dedicated leadership development and allowed the Twitter team to define Twitter’s core values. Users are now experiencing a stable product that is up (remember the whale) and they are holding on to the people they are hiring. Are they finally turning the corner in becoming a viable business model?


Costolo is doing the simple stuff right, albeit none of it is easy. Recognising the inherent ability of people and allowing them the freedom to create is many a business leader’s dilemma. This goes against the grain of managers looking to control people as an instinct. Great leaders don’t control people, they inspire them. Costolo devised a six hour leadership course, which he administers to Senior Executives four times a year (source Brad Stone’s article on Bloomberg Businessweek, “Twitter, The Startup That Wouldn’t Die”).


Just because you’re at the top of your game, does not mean you know it all and have nothing further to learn. You can be smart and have the technical depth, having little gaps when it comes to dealing with problems from a business as usual perspective. Your behaviour though is a different learning game as that is what makes people want to work with you or not. You can’t stop improving that, so successful companies today are more aware of how behavioural problems are what inhibit leaders from rallying their teams to deliver on the goals and vision of the organisation. How does one recognise talent, and more importantly how do you attract talent that wants to stay?


A good manager can possibly hire one talented person in his/her entire career. A great leader consistently recruits talented people to join their team. Twitter is taking the concept of talent acquisition to a whole new level in their latest acquisition for talent. It is simple to look at one person and hire them based on their personal values and vision being aligned to that of the business. Simple, not easy! It is quite something else, if you recruit an entire team of people in one go, whose values and vision you think, are aligned to those of the organisation.


It’s preposterous for some, but post Posterous, Mergers And Acquisitions could be prosperous. The true value and contribution of people in making business viable and successful is finally being seen. If people factor that in their valuation models, what’s the art of the possible?


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