Parag Agrawal, who formerly served as the company’s Chief Technology Officer, has been named the social network’s new CEO. Jack Dorsey has stepped down as CEO of Twitter, which he co-founded nearly 16 years ago, appointing Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technology officer, in his place.
Dorsey will remain on the board of directors of Twitter until the end of his term in 2022 to assist with the transition. CNBC first reported the move on Monday.
The leadership change comes as Dorsey and Twitter face increased criticism from investors demanding higher profits and lawmakers concerned about the company’s political speech moderation practices. Elliott Management, an activist investment firm, began pressuring Dorsey to resign last year after the CEO expressed a desire to spend up to a half-year in Africa.
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Under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter has experimented more aggressively with new newsletters, live audio, and tips to attract new users. Additionally, he guided the company’s first profit, which occurred in 2018, and set a goal of tripling yearly revenue to at least $7.5 billion by 2023.
Twitter, which currently has 211 million daily active users who see advertisements, aims to achieve 315 million daily active users by 2023.
Jesse Cohn, managing partner of Elliott Management, and Marc Steinberg, senior portfolio manager, indicated support for the leadership changes.
“Twitter is currently executing on a multi-year strategy to significantly expand the company’s reach and value, and we look forward to the next chapter of Twitter’s story,” the pair said in a statement.
Dorsey avoided the subject of external pressure in a farewell note to Twitter staff, stating that he was leaving the company because it was ready to move beyond a “founder-led” structure.
“I want you to know that this was my choice and that I take full responsibility for it,” Dorsey wrote in the email, which he also tweeted. “I’m so sad… yet extremely delighted.”
Dorsey expressed confidence in Agrawal’s abilities to lead as Twitter CEO, stating that “he leads with his heart and soul and is a somebody I learn from daily.”
Agrawal joined Twitter in 2011 and has served as the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) since 2017. According to Twitter, he oversaw the social network’s technical strategy and pioneered the company’s usage of machine learning as CTO.
Agrawal responded with a note to staff, which he also shared on Twitter. He stated in the note that he is focused on the company’s future potential.
“We just modified our approach to achieving lofty goals, and I believe that strategy is both courageous and prudent,” he added. “However, the essential challenge is how we execute on it and deliver results — that is how we will make Twitter the greatest it can be for our customers, stockholders, and each of you.”
Agrawal, who has over 109,600 Twitter followers, is not a frequent Twitter user. According to his timeline, he has tweeted or retweeted only 24 times this year. Dorsey has a Twitter following of 5.9 million.
On Monday morning, the company’s stock surged in response to news stories and settled approximately 3% higher. After that, trading was halted.
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Dorsey had been the social network’s CEO since 2015 when he took over following Dick Costolo’s resignation. Dorsey also served as Twitter’s initial CEO for a brief period beginning in 2007 before being sacked 16 months later.
When Dorsey initially returned, Twitter went through a tough period. In 2016, the firm laid off 9% of its workers, and multiple companies, including Disney and Salesforce, expressed interest in acquiring Twitter. No agreement was reached. Additionally, the business discontinued the short-form video software Vine before the rise of TikTok.
Dorsey also guided the company during an intensive era of scrutiny surrounding social media platforms. Dorsey became a frequent visitor to Congress, appearing at various hearings on social media, alongside Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook’s parent company.