The second era of social media is in the hands of Parag Agrawal
Jack Dorsey is no longer the Chief Executive Officer of Twitter. The announcement of the resignation came from the person directly concerned, obviously through a tweet. The founder of the microblogging site said that his successor will be Parag Agrawal, 37, Chief Technology Officer of the company from 2018, after being hired seven years earlier as an engineer. “Not sure anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter,” reads Dorsey’s tweet, accompanied by the lengthy email message he sent to Twitter employees to explain his decision.
“After almost 16 years of having a role at our company I decided it’s finally time for me to leave,” Dorsey writes. “Why? There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led’. Ultimately, I believe that is severely limiting and a point of failure. I have worked hard to ensure that this company can break away from its founding and founders.”
At the top of the list of motivations that convinced the founder (along with Noah Glass, Biz Stone and Evan Williams) to break away from his creature is the security of leaving Twitter in good hands. “The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag,” he writes. “He was my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that has allowed the company to turn around. He is curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn something from every day. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep.”
An ideal transition that satisfies everyone, therefore, so much so that Dorsey himself will remain on the Board of Directors until May 2022 to flank and support the new CEO. At the end of his mandate, he will leave the Board. “I believe it is really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead.” Dorsey added a final comment about the nature of the choice: “I want you to know that this was my decision. It was a tough decision, obviously, I love this service and this company, and all of you. I’m very sad, but also very happy. There are not many companies that get to this level. And there are not many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we will prove that this was the right move.” And again, the last major wish: “My wish is for Twitter Inc to be the most transparent company in the world.”
Already in office, the new CEO is ready to take the baton from Dorsey, aware of the ambitious goals set by the partners at the beginning of the year: to reach 315 million monetizable daily active users by 2023 and to double the annual revenues within two years. Parag Agrawal’s first words, again via email relayed on Twitter ,are dedicated to his former boss and inspiration: “I am grateful for the service you have provided. The culture, soul and purpose you gave to all of us, and for leading this company through significant challenges. I am grateful for the trust you are placing in me and for your continued alliance.” He then sends an invitation to the entire team: “The world is watching us, even more than before, let’s show them the potential of Twitter.”
As for Dorsey, 45, a fascinating character who loves fasting and gave up his degree a few months before the finish line to pursue the passion for computer science that in March 2006 materialized in the first tweet in history (in recent months sold as NFT for $2.9 million on the occasion of the 15th anniversary), the exit from the scene is not a surprise. The resignation comes after a long tug of war with Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, the investment company that is one of the major shareholders of Twitter. To create friction was the commitment made by Dorsey in Square, a company of financial services and online payments for mobile devices, founded by the same father of Twitter in 2009 (when he did not work for Twitter).
The growth of Square, which in 2020 had a turnover of $9.5 billion, in the eyes of the shareholders stole time that Dorsey should have dedicated to Twitter, struggling with many innovations (the transition of messages from the original 140 characters to 280 characters is one of the most significant, but in recent months there have been many experiments attempted on the social media) and yet unable to make the expected leap forward in terms of revenue and ability to attract advertisers to sponsor tweets, hashtags and accounts.
Beyond the clashes with investors, however, no one can deny the importance Dorsey played in getting the company back on the waterline when he was recalled to the command post in 2015 to remedy the problems that arose under Dick Costolo’s leadership. Despite layoffs, departures of prominent figures and formal and substantive changes at Twitter, under Dorsey’s second tenure the microblogging site has made a comeback despite lacking the coveted exploit in numbers. Besides Square, it is likely that in Dorsey’s near future there are two other great passions of his, namely NFT and Bitcoin. Innovative businesses with great potential, especially in the US market, which Jack Dorsey will face serenely thanks to his wealth of $11.8 billion.