Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey leaves the company
Dorsey, who is also chief executive of payments firm Square, has faced thorny questions about free speech during his tenure, challenges to making the platform profitable, and criticism that he is ‘was too scattered.
With his recognizable shaved-head look, long beard, and unconventional style, Dorsey has embodied Twitter for years.
âI want you all to know that it was my decision and that I will take responsibility for it. It’s been tough for me, of course, âhe wrote in an email to Twitter staff announcing his resignation as CEO, which took effect immediately.
âThere aren’t many companies that reach this level. And there aren’t many founders who choose their business over their own egos, âhe added.
The company said Twitter’s chief technology officer Parag Agrawal had replaced Dorsey in the top position, with Dorsey saying he would remain on the board until about May to help with the transition.
âAnd after thatâ¦ I’ll be leaving the board,â Dorsey wrote. “Why not stay or become president?” I think it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead.
The Nasdaq briefly suspended Twitter trading on Monday, citing “pending news”, and after some volatility, the price fell more than 2.5% for the day.
– The Trump era –
Like many Silicon Valley celebrities, from Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs to Bill Gates or Michael Dell, Dorsey dropped out, never having graduated from any of the universities he attended, one in his Native Missouri and the other in New York.
Dorsey is credited with having the idea for Twitter when eventual co-founder Evan Williams gave employees at blogging start-up Odeo two weeks to work on new projects to break up the daily grind.
He ran Twitter from 2007 to 2008 and later returned as CEO after Dick Costolo stepped down in June 2015.
With Dorsey at the helm, Twitter announced its profitable first quarter for the final three months of 2017, then two full years in the green, before falling back into the red in 2020.
In March 2020, Twitter struck a deal with key investors to end an effort to oust the chief, creating a new committee within the board to keep tabs on the company’s management.
Dorsey came under pressure in 2020 from Elliott Management over concerns that he had spread too thinly running both Twitter and Square.
During Trump’s presidency, which ended in January of this year, Twitter was widely seen as the medium used to broadcast America’s deepening political and cultural divisions.
Dorsey made the controversial decision to permanently ban Trump from the platform, where the former president had amassed 88.7 million followers.
Dorsey made the decision days after Trump assembled a crowd of supporters who stormed the United States Capitol, where they tried to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed the winner in the 2020 election.
– New CEO –
Trump supporters have accused Dorsey and the social media giants of trying to restrict free speech, and many have ditched Twitter to join new platforms supporting the far right.
But some have also defended the tough decisions Dorsey had to make.
âPeople tend to confuse Jack Dorsey with Twitter censorship, but I feel like he has done what he can in recent years to keep the platform relatively open,â Mike Solana tweeted, director of the private equity firm Founders Fund.
âThings will be worse without him, not better. Godspeed, king of the birds, âhe added.
Twitter’s new CEO, Agrawal, joined the company in 2011 and has served as CTO since October 2017, where he was responsible for the technical strategy of the network.
Dorsey cited Agrawal’s understanding of the business as the key to his decision to quit.
âThere is a lot of talk about the importance for a company to beâ run by its founder â. At the end of the day, I think it’s severely limiting and it’s a single point of failure, âDorsey wrote to Twitter staff.
Agrawal holds a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
âWe recently updated our strategy to achieve lofty goals, and I think this strategy is bold and fair,â he wrote in his own message to staff.
He is the latest Indian-born talent to be chosen to lead a major US tech company, after Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet and Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
âThe United States benefits greatly from Indian talent! Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted Monday.