It looks like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is leaving the chief executive’s office once again — but this time, it’s by choice.
Sources within Twitter first shared the news with CNBC earlier this morning, and it’s now been confirmed by Dorsey himself — quite appropriately via a Tweet on his social media platform.
not sure anyone has heard but,
I resigned from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G5tUkSSxkl
— jack⚡️ (@jack) November 29, 2021
While the original reports didn’t have much to say about why Dorsey was stepping down, or when it would be happening, it didn’t take long for the erstwhile CEO to share the news himself. In his tweet, Dorsey includes a screenshot of the email that he sent internally to Twitter employees, describing it as part of his desire for Twitter “to be the most transparent company ever.”
Dorsey explains that although he will continue to serve on the board until the end of his term next spring, as of today, he is officially handing over the reins of CEO to Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal, as confirmed by the company’s board of directors. The board also named Bret Taylor as the new chairman of the board, He will succeed Patrick Pichette in that role.
In his internal email, Dorsey also shared that he has no plans to remain on the board after his term expires, as he feels “it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead.”
Dorsey says that he’s leaving because he feels it’s best to separate a company from its founders, and that now is the right time to do so. “I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction,” Dorsey said in the message to Twitter employees.
Based on the message, it appears that Dorsey has been planning this for a while. He noted that he’s been working hard “to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.” It’s just been a matter of finding the right person to take over the helm, and Dorsey had been grooming Agrawal for some time, due to “how deeply he understands the company and its needs.”
“Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rationale relative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is something I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep,” Dorsey told employees in the internal email.
Dorsey’s past with Twitter has been marred by controversies
Over the years, Dorsey has had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with the company that he helped to create in 2006. He initially served as CEO until 2008, but was pushed out of the role after his co-founder Evan Williams and the board felt that he was unfit to lead the growing social media company.
While Dorsey remained with Twitter as chairman of the board, he refocused most of his attention elsewhere, forming the popular mobile payment company Square. Once that was up and running, Dorsey rejoined Twitter in early 2011 to focus on product development, dividing his time between that and his ongoing work at Square.
After four more years of struggling to come up with a long-term vision, Twitter’s board returned Dorsey to the position of permanent CEO of Twitter in fall 2015, replacing Dick Costolo, who had taken over from Williams in 2010.
During Dorsey’s second tenure, he’s presided over a social network that’s faced some significantly new and different challenges.
For starters, Twitter has become a hotbed for oft-heated political discourse, forcing the company to take steps to combat hate speech and even ban political advertising.
Dorsey has also presided over at least two major challenges to his leadership, first getting into a dispute with the board in 2016 over its plans to sell the social media company off to a larger company like Google, Salesforce, or Disney.
While Dorsey’s vision for Twitter ultimately won out, his seemingly divided loyalties caused another furor in early 2020 when billionaire investor Paul Singer and his firm, Elliott Managemen,t sought to replace Dorsey over the fact that he was splitting his time with Square and his desire to also move to Africa for six months out of every year. Dorsey is the only person to serve as CEO of two publicly traded multibillion dollar public companies at the same time.
Nonetheless, until now, Dorsey has been adamant about remaining CEO of both companies. He has also generally remained quite popular within the ranks of Twitter, due to such altruistic moves as taking a token salary of $1.40 a year, and donating hundreds of millions of dollars in shares to employees.
Agrawal takes over the role effective immediately. Agrawal has been with Twitter since 2011, where he started out in the modest role of software engineer. In 2017, he took on the mantle of CTO, where he was responsible for overall technical strategy, with a focus on advancing the state of machine learning within the company. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science andengineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.
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