Twitter’s Co-founder CEO Jack Dorsey has stepped down, with Technology Chief Parag Agrawal taking the reigns, the company announced on Monday.
“There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led’. Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure,” he said to his staff in an email.
“Why not stay or become chair? I believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead,” he added. Dorsey will stay back as a part of the Board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting.
He will now focus on Square, the POS payments platform he co-founded in 2010, and has been simultaneously serving as CEO.
End of an Era
The now 45-year-old veteran co-founded the social networking platform with Biz Stone, Evan Williams, and Noah Glass in 2006. Having sent the earliest tweets, he grew to become the face of the company.
Most recently, he oversaw the acquisition of the email newsletter service Revue earlier this year.
He also spearheaded the Spaces feature, which lets users host or listen to live audio conversations. Spaces was launched to compete with audio-first trends like Clubhouse, TikTok, and Instagram Reels.
Perhaps, Dorsey’s most divisive move, though, was to ban former US President Donald Trump from using the platform in the aftermath of the riots at the Capitol building on 6 Jan, which experts claim, were sparked by his inciting tweets.
It drew strong criticism from Trump’s supporters for allegedly violating freedom of expression.
Dorsey had battled investors’ frustration for paying too little attention to Twitter in lieu of his role in Square, back in 2020.
Elliott Management Corp, a hedge fund with stakes in the company, had called for him to step down.
Agrawal hails from IIT-Bombay who later pursued a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University. He completed research internships in AT&T, Microsoft, and Yahoo before joining the blue bird in October 2011.
He was initially onboarded as an ads engineer and was appointed as the CTO in 2017. With his recent promotion, he joins Silicon Valley’s growing group of Indian-origin CEOs such as Sundar Pichai of Google and Satya Nadella of Microsoft.
Agrawal has been at the forefront of the company’s efforts into incorporating cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.
Most notably, he has been a key member of the company’s BlueSky initiative, which aims to create a “decentralized” standard framework for social media companies, similar to an open-source tool.
This framework will possibly allow the platforms to operate on the same base technology while letting users freely post content across different services.
The BlueSky website reads, “We’re focusing on re-building the social web by connecting disconnected silos and returning control of the social experience to users. Our mission is to develop and drive the adoption of technologies for open and decentralized public conversation.”
Dorsey has said the initiative will likely take years to unfold.
Investors are hoping Agrawal’s technical expertise will bolster Twitter’s advertising “engine,” according to notes from analysts from Baird Equity Research sent to Reuters.
The company’s targeted ads services account for 15% of its total earnings, and the company has previously announced ambitions to grow that share to as much as 50% of the total company revenue.
Experts have noted that Twitter is still far behind its rival Facebook when it comes to targeted advertising capabilities.
Twitter (TWTR.N) shares surged nearly 10% after the announcement but later stabilized to close down 2.7%.
A Hargreaves Lansdown analyst, Sussanah Streeter, told Reuters that the market corrected upon realizing that Agrawal’s ambitions to scale the company’s revenue targets were a “mountain to scale,” while some investors felt “disappointment that a Twitter outsider hasn’t been brought in to offer fresh ideas,”