UPDATE: SoFi announced in a press release that Anthony Noto has been named CEO and a director, effective March 1.
Anthony Noto, the COO of Twitter, is in talks to be the next CEO of Social Finance, which could be a blow to Twitter considering his role in leading the micro-blogging service into live video, per The Wall Street Journal. Noto, who had worked as the finance chief of the National Football League, helped Twitter reach a $10 million deal to live-stream NFL games in 2016. He also focused on building partnerships with Time Inc. and Bloomberg.
SoFi offered the CEO job to Noto, and it’s not clear whether he will accept it. Twitter may give him a counter-offer to keep him as CEO Jack Dorsey splits his time running the company and the payment processor Square.
The timing is particularly bad for Twitter, which has finally show signs of turning around its business after an extended push to regain user and financial growth, with several Wall Street analysts upgrading their outlook for the company, leading to stock gains, according to Bloomberg.
Noto’s possible departure would be a big loss for Twitter, which is working to develop more original content to differentiate its service from other social media companies. He helped Twitter win the rights to stream Thursday Night Football games in 2016, but the company was outbid by Amazon for the 2017 season. The company has been working hard to enact a turnaround in user growth and its ability to attract advertisers. The fact that Wall Street analysts have upgraded their outlook for Twitter suggests these efforts may be starting to take hold. Losing Noto at this point could potentially deflate some of the momentum.
SoFi, which started as a peer-to-peer lending service, has been without a permanent CEO since September, when co-founder Mike Cagney resigned after an outside investigation into claims that current and former employees were sexually harassed at work. SoFi needs new leadership to help revamp the company and get past an allegedly toxic workplace culture where women claimed they were treated improperly. SoFi's board disclosed that in 2012 it paid money to settle a dispute between an employee and the CEO. The company is said to be growing rapidly after securing $2 billion in investments to grow beyond its original business of refinancing student loans.
SoFi is a smaller company than Twitter, which has a market value of $17.6 billion and 330 million users, including President Donald Trump who generates steady publicity by using the platform to make public pronouncements. SoFi is valued at $4 billion, but does have much more room to grow in the burgeoning fintech market. That growth potential and the possibility of being granted an equity stake in SoFi may lure Noto away from Twitter, which has never been profitable as a public company. It posted a Q3 2017 loss of $21 million on sales of $590 million, but may report its first profit when it releases Q4 2017 earnings. The company is expected to report results on Feb. 8.