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Twitter gives control of its hapless marketing department to its chief financial officer

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Anthony Noto, best known for a DM fail, takes over from the company's head of product

Brian Ach/Getty Images

As an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Anthony Noto orchestrated Twitter's initial public offering. Now Noto is Twitter's chief financial officer, and he's changing the score again, moving the social network's hapless marketing department under his control. Marketing is not typically the purview of a CFO, and a source familiar with the situation told The Verge that the unusual structure was discussed in a meeting at Twitter headquarters Monday. "Noto is consolidating power, so to speak," the source said.

During the dot-com bubble, Noto hyped troubled tech stocks like eToys and Webvan. These days, he's better known as the Twitter exec whose direct message fail exposed a planned acquisition, and who later had his Twitter account hacked. Regardless, Noto is rewarded handsomely for his services. In 2014, he received a $72.8 million compensation package, mostly in stock, taking home roughly three times more than his predecessor.

Charged with boosting user growth

Last week, Noto co-starred with CEO Dick Costolo on the earnings call delivering bad news to shareholders. Twitter has been fending off Wall Street's unhappiness with slower growth to its user base. The latest quarterly report showed that Twitter's revenue growth also slowed, failing to meet expectations. The bad quarter, which caused a steep drop in the company's stock price, reignited speculation that Costolo's job could be in jeopardy.

Noto heads up several areas beyond finance, including corporate development, corporate strategy, and real estate. He took over marketing after months of fruitless searching for a chief marketing officer. Since January, marketing has fallen under the auspices of Kevin Weil, senior vice president of product. Before that, marketing was led by chief communications officer Gabriel Sticker.

Taking over at a key time

Noto takes over marketing at a key time: Twitter desperately needs to be able to explain itself to the masses. Given the company's challenges with user growth, it does not bode well for the company that it keeps tossing the mic. When longtime employee Gabriel Stricker expanded his role to VP of marketing and communications in 2013, All Things D wrote:

Historically, Twitter hasn’t had a solid, unified consumer marketing team or a person to lead it for years. Pam Kramer did a short stint as VP of marketing back in 2011, but it didn’t work out so well; Kramer was shown the door after only three months.

Stricker's bio on Twitter's executive team page says he's now the chief communications officer. There's no mention of marketing on the entire page, except to note that Stricker is the author of the bestselling book on guerrilla marketing Mao In the Boardroom.

The search for a CMO has dragged on for months and is still ongoing. According to one source, Kate Jhaveri, senior director of consumer marketing at Twitter, was passed over for the chief marketing role despite the fuss Twitter made over poaching her from Facebook, where she led consumer branding and mobile marketing for three years. The source told The Verge Jhaveri plans to resign, but she is still with the company. (She did not respond to requests for comment.)

A senior director was passed over for the job

The exodus of executives from Twitter has been an ongoing saga. The most tumultuous recent departure was chief operating officer Ali Rowghani, who resigned last June after "a dispute" with CEO Dick Costolo. If Jhaveri leaves, though, that will be at least the fourth high-level female leader to leave Twitter in the past 10 months.

That group includes Vivian Schiller, Twitter's head of news, who split with the company in October after just 10 months. Schiller, the former CEO of NPR, who held top roles at NBC News and The New York Times Digital, was a high-profile hire. In February, April Underwood, director of product, departed the company. Chloe Sladden, Twitter's vice president of media, left last August.

The women may be done with Twitter, but they still enjoy working together. In March, four current and two former female Twitter employees launched an investment group for investing in early-stage startups called #Angels. The same month, a former female software engineer named Tina Huang filed a class-action lawsuit against Twitter for gender discrimination, alleging that the company's process for promoting employees favors men and the hiring process is controlled by largely male upper management.

Noto's first task may be figuring out how to market himself a little better at the office. The same source told The Verge, "Twitter employees [are] asking why Noto gets $70 million, but the company can’t afford to give raises, or bring salaries closer to market rates." Although engineers make around market rate, the source said, non-technical employees do not.

If you have additional information about changes at Twitter, please email nitasha@theverge.com