That Time When Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Needed Arts Credits to Graduate

What would have happened had his arts career turned out better?

Yes, retiring Twitter CEO Dick Costolo had a first act, and it was literally an act—the tech giant was once a standup comic, as he related in a Pando interview in 2013.

It all started when Costolo, studying toward a computer science degree at the University of Michigan, needed some arts credits to graduate. Plainly thinking of the arts as a field for slackers, he looked through the catalogue, thinking, “What’s the thing that I can take in the arts, with, like, no homework?”

Because obviously!

So Costolo ended up in improv comedy for a while, but when he went to a deli and realized that he couldn’t afford both the soup and the sandwich in the daily deal, he went back to computers.

He remained interested in the arts, though, judging by his Twitter account. He enjoyed reading about Banksy’s month-long residency in New York:



He was discouraged when the Detroit Institute of Arts looked like it might be forced into selling off parts of its art collection, leading him to reminisce about visiting the museum:



And he’s something of an art collector himself, with a taste for the creations of Los Angeles collective Cyrcle.:


What’s more, Twitter has provided something of a home for many artists. Appropriation artist and lighting rod Richard Prince is known for his gnomic tweets; Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei gets the word out online even when grounded by his government; Yoko Ono, of the MoMA retrospective, is known for her Fluxus-style instructional tweets, like this gem:


Who would have guessed that Costolo’s failure to take the right arts class would have led to his running a social platform so key for artists?

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