Twitter co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey has stepped down from his position, ending his nearly 16-year stint with the social media giant. The company’s Board has unanimously appointed Twitter’s chief technology officer (CTO) Parag Agrawal as his successor.
Agrawal, who joined the company in 2011, and served as CTO since October 2017, joins the elite list of global tech CEOs from India such as Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen and VMWare’s Rangarajan Raghuram, among others.
Jack Dorsey Resigns
Dorsey’s exit, who has been heading Twitter as its chief executive since 2015, will come into effect immediately. However, he will remain a member of the Board till around May 2022 to enable a smooth transition.
“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” Dorsey said in a statement.
The 45-year-old outgoing CEO expressed faith in his successor, Agrawal, who had joined Twitter in 2011 and was appointed as the company’s CTO in 2017.
“My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead,” Dorsey said.
The tattooed entrepreneur Jack Dorsey has been CEO of both social media firm Twitter and small business payments company Square since 2015.
Dorsey co-founded Twitter with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass in 2006, and served as CEO of the fledgling social media company until 2008 before leaving, only to return for a second stint as chief executive in 2015.
Dorsey also co-founded Square, a digital financial payment company, with Jim McKelvey in 2009, then took it public in 2015.
In 2016, Dorsey gave nearly one third of his Twitter shares to employees. In April, he promised to give away $1 billion – then 28% of his net worth – to Covid-19 relief and other causes, via gifts of his Square stock.
Dorsey has experienced substantial turbulence over the past few years at the company he co-founded. Last year, Twitter stakeholder Elliott Management attempted to oust him from the executive suite over the platform’s slow growth. Dorsey has also faced backlash over his hesitancy to censor users, especially controversial public figures like former President Donald Trump.
Twitter took steps to manage the spread of misinformation on the platform last year —particularly regarding the presidential election and the corona-virus pandemic — and early this year permanently banned Trump from Twitter.
Dorsey, in a letter he posted on Twitter, said, “He (Agrawal) has been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around.”
Agrawal in response said, “Deep gratitude for @jack and our entire team, and so much excitement for the future. Here’s the note I sent to the company. Thank you all for your trust and support.”
Who is Parag Agrawal?
Agrawal, who joined the company in 2011, and served as CTO since October 2017, has been responsible for the company’s technical strategy, and its efforts in advancing the state of machine learning across the company. One of his key contributions has been leading the company’s efforts in using artificial intelligence to increase the relevance of tweets in users’ timelines.
A Computer Science and Engineering graduate from IIT-Bombay, Agrawal holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Before joining Twitter in 2011, he was involved in large-scale data management research with collaborators at firms such as Microsoft Research, Yahoo Research, and AT&T Labs.
In December 2019, Dorsey had also put Agrawal in charge of Project Bluesky, the firm’s decentralized social networking efforts, until it found a leader. In August 2021, Jay Graber was appointed as the leader of Bluesky.
Bret Taylor, Twitter’s incoming Independent Board Chair said, “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Jack for his visionary leadership and unrelenting dedication to Twitter since its founding.
Jack returned to Twitter and turned the Company around at the most critical time. The progress since then has been nothing short of incredible. Jack has given the world something invaluable and we will continue to carry it forward.”
Taylor noted, “Parag understands Twitter and appreciates the Company’s unique potential. He has been instrumental in tackling our most important priorities, including accelerating our development velocity, and I know he’ll hit the ground running to strengthen execution and deliver results. The Board has the utmost confidence in Parag.”
“I want to thank the Board for their confidence in my leadership and Jack for his continued mentorship, support, and partnership,” said Agrawal. “I look forward to building on everything we have accomplished under Jack’s leadership and I am incredibly energized by the opportunities ahead. By continuing to improve our execution, we will deliver tremendous value for our customers and shareholders as we reshape the future of public conversation.”
Experts believe, with Agrawal coming from a hardcore tech background, the company could see more of product innovation. Also having an Indian-origin CEO can have an impact on the relationship the company has with the Indian government. It would be interesting to see the changes the new CEO could bring onto this platform.