Jack Dorsey has resigned as Twitter CEO, the 45-year-old announced in a tweet.
Twitter's Chief Technology Officer, Indian-American Parag Agrawal, will succeed him.
“After almost 16 years of having a role at our company...from co-founder to CEO to Chair to Exec Chair to interim-CEO to CEO...I decided it’s finally time for me to leave. Why?” Dorsey tweeted.
He cited three reasons why he felt now was the right time to leave: The first being the choice of Agrawal as CEO.
“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. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone-deep.”
Dorsey said the second reason was Bret Taylor agreeing to become Twitter's board chair.
“I asked Bret to join our board when I became CEO, and he’s been excellent in every way. He understands entrepreneurship, taking risks, companies at massive scale, technology, product, and he’s an engineer. All of the things the board and the company deserve right now. Having Bret in this leadership role gives me a lot of confidence in the strength of our board going forward. You have no idea how happy this makes me!”
“The third is all of you. We have a lot of ambition and potential on this team. Consider this; Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he’s our CEO (I also had a similar path...he did it better!). This alone makes me proud. I know that Parag will be able to channel this energy best because he’s lived it and knows what it takes. All of you have the potential to change the course of this company for the better. I believe this with all my heart!”
Agrawal would take over as CEO “starting today” he said. Dorsey added that he may serve on the board through his term to help Agrawal and Taylor with the transition. Justifying his decision to leave his board after his term, he said it was important to give Agrawal the “space he needs to lead” and said it was critical that a company can “stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction”.
“I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and company...and all of you so much. I’m really sad...yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.”
Agrawal replied to Dorsey's tweet, saying he was honoured and humbled.
The announcement came after multiple media reports said Dorsey would resign. Trading in Twitter shares had been suspended ahead of the expected announcement. Dorsey’s earlier tweet, on November 28, said simply, “I love twitter”.
Dorsey has a 2.26 per cent stake in Twitter. Twitter is valued at around $37.64 billion. The company has plans to expand its userbase to reach 315 million daily users by 2023 as well as to double its revenue.
Who is Parag Agrawal?
Agrawal is an IIT-Bombay alumnus who went on to study in Stanford. He worked in Microsoft, Yahoo! and AT&AT before joining Twitter in 2011.
In a press note, Twitter said that as CTO, Agrawal was responsible for the company's technical strategy, leading work to improve development velocity while advancing the state of machine learning across the company. "Prior to being appointed CTO, Parag had risen to be Twitter's first Distinguished Engineer due to his work across revenue and consumer engineering, including his impact on the re-acceleration of audience growth in 2016 and 2017. Parag holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University and a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay," the note said.
Was there pressure on Dorsey to step down?
Last year, investment management firm Elliot Management acquired a 4 per cent stake in Twitter, following which it pushed to have Dorsey removed, saying he was not paying enough attention to the company (which he runs, alongside payments provider Square).
The move to displace him accompanied general unhappiness with the social media giant among Republicans, who saw its decision to permanently ban former US President Donald Trump from the platform as an act of censure. Elliot Management’s founder and co-CEO is Paul Singer, a Republican who is among the party’s top donors.
Dorsey went on to give Elliot and its ally buyout firm Silver Lake Partners seats on Twitter’s board.
What is next for Dorsey and for Twitter?
Dorsey's bio, for months, has been a single word: Bitcoin.
Twitter also recently made hires of a crypto-expert to their engineering team. One of Agrawal's most recent retweets was of a post saying "gm excited to have @_tessr on the team! There are so many opportunities for Twitter to leverage & add on to web3 – especially in the creator space around monetization, ownership, identity, community, and more. Twitter building out a crypto team. Probably nothing."
The company had hinted at integrating Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) into its platform.
Dorsey, meanwhile, also runs a mobile payments and financial services company, Square, which has a nearly $100 billion valuation.