Q&A: Dick Costolo on Life After Twitter and Why He’s on Board With 2 Ambitious Startups

He's focusing for now on IfOnly and Patreon

Since his high-profile parting of ways with Twitter, former CEO Dick Costolo has kept a low profile—and that's just the way he wants it.

But recently, Costolo has resurfaced to lend his expertise to two companies he feels could become major players in the future: experience sharing site IfOnly and art crowdfunding platform Patreon. He recently joined the board of directors for both startups and is considering launching his own venture someday.

Costolo chatted with Adweek about what he's been up to since leaving Twitter, how he feels about current CEO Jack Dorsey and the lessons learned from scaling companies.

Adweek: What is it that drew your interest in IfOnly?

Dick Costolo: (CEO of IfOnly Trevor Traina) and I have known each other for a while. I'd say several different things brought me to the company. I've had a lot of requests to help out in the past few months, and I've only done two things: this and the Patreon board. Mostly because I need to keep my time free if I start something myself in the spring.

Specifically, the things that turned me to IfOnly were, one, I think Trevor is really onto something with this notion of experiences being of growing importance over material things and possessions. I thought that was a really interesting insight.

Secondly, I thought I'd be able to help Trevor out with my operating experience. Thirdly, I like the way that a significant part, and in fact I think the majority, of his VPs are women. Having women in technology is something that is very important to me, and Trevor is really putting his money where his mouth is there.

All those things coupled together, on top of which, Trevor is just a really good person, and it's worth it for me to work with people I think are good people, led me to this being something I want to do.

What do you want to bring to the company as a member of its board of directors?

I would say operating experience and things that I've learned doing with other companies—both my own and Twitter. (Trevor) is at the point where he's growing the company, he's done the zero to 50, now he needs to take it to the next level.

As it is in most startups, lots of the other folks on the board are investors and maybe they have some operating experience, maybe they don't, but it's always helpful to have someone else on the board—it certainly was for me at Twitter—that had been a CEO or was a CEO and scaled organizations. Those are the types of people I decided to add to my board at Twitter. I thought they were helpful and important, and that's what I hope to help out with at IfOnly.

You've joined the board of IfOnly and Patreon, so what kinds of things are really gaining your attention now, in terms of what you want to get involved with?

I'm not really basing my decisions specifically on my personal interest. That's going to be an area where I go and attack that on my own and start my own company. This has been more of a combination of people I thought were good people—Trevor and (Patreon CEO) Jack Conte are really good people—and there were aspects of the companies that were important and interesting to the future and the kind of economies that are going to be created. In Trevor's case, the experience economy and in Patreon's case, patrons of the arts. So those are two folks I've decied to help out. On the personal-interest side, I'd go after that on my own.

Who do you feel are some of the blossoming superstars of tech nowadays? Who's really impressing you?