Longtime Goldman Sachs technology analyst and partner Anthony Noto was scheduled to start this month as senior managing director of hedge fund Coatue Management. Instead, he called an audible.
Noto, who was CFO of the National Football League from 2008 to 2011, pulled off a last-minute switch in plans by jumping to Twitter, where he will be finance chief. Goldman underwrote the social media firm’s initial public offering last November, with Noto leading the investment bank’s involvement in the deal. He resigned from Goldman in May.
His salary reportedly will be only $250,000, but he got a hefty signing bonus: 1.5 million restricted stock units, to vest over four years, that are currently valued at about $63 million. Noto, who had been with Goldman since 1999 except for his three-year sojourn to the NFL, also pocketed a one-time grant to buy 500,000 shares, valued at about $21 million.
How much the shares will ultimately be worth is, of course, anyone’s guess, especially given Twitter’s recent stumbles. Its stock, which opened at $44.90 upon its initial public offering last Nov. 7 and reached a peak closing price of $73.31 on Dec. 26, was trading just above $42 early this afternoon. Even worse for Twitter, some observers expect growth in its user base to decline steadily for the next several years.
Mike Gupta, who had been Twitter’s CFO, will stay with the company as senior vice president for senior investments.
It’s not clear to Victor Anthony, an analyst with Topeka Capital Markets, why Twitter made the change. Referring to recent departures of the company’s chief operating officer and senior vice president of engineering, he says, “I understand that those changes were made to accelerate product innovation and eventually drive faster growth. But I thought the past CFO was doing a fine job.”
Anthony expects Noto to do well too, though. “Noto has a deep understanding of media and the Internet, past CFO experience and extensive technology-industry contacts, all of which could be leveraged to drive strategic value for the firm,” Anthony says. “He also adds star power.”