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What To Know About Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s New CEO

Published 10 months ago
By Forbes

TOPLINE

Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal became the company’s new CEO Monday after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down, culminating what Dorsey called a “rigorous process” for the company’s board to select a new leader for one of the world’s most powerful social media companies.

KEY FACTS

Agrawal joined Twitter in 2011 following stints at Microsoft, AT&T and Yahoo, and has served as the company’s CTO since October 2017, where he had been in charge of technical strategy involving machine learning.

Dorsey said in a company email Agrawal was his top choice as he’s been “behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around.”

Agrawal holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford University and became Twitter’s first Distinguished Engineer for his impact on the re-acceleration of audience growth in 2016 and 2017, according to a news release.

He said in a company email “the world is watching us right now,” adding in a news release he is “incredibly energized” by the opportunities ahead for the company as it “reshapes the future of public conversation.”

He is now tasked with meeting Twitter’s aggressive goals, including doubling annual revenue this year and reaching 315 million monetizable daily active users by the end of 2023, CNBC reports.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“The Board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs,” Dorsey said in a company-wide email announcing his departure. “He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep.”

KEY BACKGROUND

Twitter’s user growth struggled in recent years, both with getting existing users to use the app again and with recruiting new users, Recode reports. Twitter stopped reporting its monthly active users in 2019 as the numbers were stagnating around 300 million—at the time, Facebook reported having approximately 2.5 billion monthly users. Elliott Management, an “activist investor” firm and Twitter stakeholder, attempted to oust Dorsey from his position in 2020 over the company’s slow growth, according to a Bloomberg report. The management group also thought that by replacing Dorsey, who was CEO of Twitter and Square at the time, with a full-time CEO could make Twitter more favorable and valuable on Wall Street, Bloomberg reported. Twitter reported user growth and revenue that met analysts’ expectations in the third quarter of this year, despite Apple’s iPhone privacy changes.

TANGENT

Reports of Dorsey’s impending resignation surfaced Monday morning, and he confirmed he was stepping down, effective immediately in a company-wide email. Dorsey said in the email he believes a company being founder-led is “severely limiting and a signal point of failure,” adding that “there aren’t many founders who choose their company over their own ego.” Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 and served as CEO until he was pushed out in 2008, but returned to the role in 2015 after Dick Costolo stepped down. He still serves as CEO of Square, of another company he co-founded in 2010.

CHIEF CRITIC

Dorsey faced criticism in recent years for his hesitations to censor users, including controversial public figures, on the app. Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, said in a statement Dorsey “leaves behind a mixed legacy.” “A platform that’s useful and potent for quick communication but one that’s been exploited by a range of bad actors, including former President Donald Trump, who did his best on Twitter to undermine democracy—until Dorsey’s people finally had enough and shut him down,” Barrett said.

FURTHER READING

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Steps Down: ‘Finally Time For Me To Leave’ (Forbes)

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