Jack Dorsey, the maverick behind making Twitter the world’s go-to social platform to rant, laud, troll or play simple catch up, is moving on.
Confirming long-standing speculation that he would, @Jack, Dorsey’s handle for 18 years, enigmatically said: “not sure anyone has heard but,” and attached a one-page version of why and who.
Indian-American Parag Agarwal, Twitter @paraga, is the new CEO, with immediate effect, Dorsey announced.
Agarwal attended Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) and IIT Mumbai and followed it with a Stanford PhD and ten years at Twitter.
Dorsey’s note attacked the concept of “founder-led”. The construct sets companies up for failure, he said.
Dorsey, 45, was serving as both the CEO of Twitter and Square, his digital payments company. He will remain a member of the Board until his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders.
Salesforce boss Bret Taylor will become Twitter Chairman, replacing Patrick Pichette, a former Google executive, who will remain on the board as Chair of the Audit Committee.
“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” Dorsey said.
“Deep gratitude for @jack and our entire team, and so much excitement for the future,” Agarwal said in a quote-tweet of Dorsey, with a short acceptance note attached, a #oneteam tag and a heart emoji in blue.
Agrawal, CTO since 2017, isn’t in for an easy time. Twitter’s stated goal of monetisation for one – 315 million monetisable daily active users by the end of 2023 and doubling of annual revenue. Agrawal’s specialisation has been strategy involving artificial intelligence and machine learning (read: no finance as yet).
Before studying computer science at IIT, he attended the Atomic Energy Kendriya Vidyalaya.
While studying at Stanford, Agarwal worked as a research intern for Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AT&T Labs.
After graduating from Stanford, he joined Twitter as an ads engineer. He served in that position from October 2011 to October 2017.
His early work as CTO was dedicated to increasing the relevance of tweets in Twitter timelines through the use of artificial intelligence.
Dorsey’s exit isn’t a surprise. He was under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp, even over how he was spending his time. A year earlier, Dorsey had said he planned to spend up to six months of the year working in Africa to better understand the continent’s internet users, a move that was ultimately scrapped due to Covid-19.
The hedge fund reached an agreement with Twitter and private equity group Silver Lake to appoint three new Directors to Twitter’s board and create a committee to review leadership and governance. The deal came at a cost. Dorsey was expected to grow Twitter’s monetised daily users by 20 per cent or more and boost revenue growth.
Agarwal’s remarkable journey starts from a Kendriya Vidyalaya under the Atomic Energy Education Society (AEES), set up for education to children of the employees of the Department of Atomic Energy and its constituent units. From one school in Anushaktinagar, Mumbai in 1969, AEES administers 30 schools and junior colleges at 16 locations all over the country.