Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey quits company

AFP
Twitter's Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal has replaced Dorsey in the top post, with Dorsey saying he would remain a board member until May to help with the transition.
AFP
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey quits company
AFP

In this file photo taken on June 4, 2021, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and co-founder & CEO of Square, attends the cryptocurrency conference Bitcoin 2021 Convention at the Mana Convention Center in Miami, Florida.

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced on Monday he was leaving the company, after steering the social network during the tumult of Donald Trump's presidency and surviving an activist investor's ouster bid in 2020.

Dorsey, who is also chief executive of payments company Square, was confronted during his tenure by thorny freedom of speech questions, challenges to making the platform profitable and criticism he had spread himself too thin.

With his recognizable look of a shaved head, long beard and unconventional style, Dorsey for years embodied Twitter.

"I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course," he wrote in an e-mail to Twitter staff announcing his resignation as CEO, which was effective immediately.

"There aren't many companies that get to this level. And there aren't many founders that choose their company over their own ego," he added.

The company said Twitter's Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal has replaced Dorsey in the top post, with Dorsey saying he would remain a member of the board until around May to help with the transition.

"And after that... I'll leave the board," Dorsey wrote. "Why not stay or become chair? I believe it's really important to allow Parag the space he needs to lead."

Nasdaq briefly suspended trading of Twitter on Monday, citing "news pending," and after some volatility, the price was down over 2.5 percent for the day.

Trump era

Like many Silicon Valley celebrities, from Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs to Bill Gates or Michael Dell, Dorsey dropped out of college, never graduating from either of the universities he attended, one in his native Missouri and the other in New York.

Dorsey is credited with coming up with the idea for Twitter when eventual co-founder Evan Williams gave workers at blogging startup Odeo two weeks to work on new projects as a way to break up the daily routine.

He ran Twitter from 2007 to 2008 and returned later as CEO after Dick Costolo resigned in June 2015.

With Dorsey at the helm, Twitter reported its first profitable quarter for the last three months of 2017, and then two full years in the green, before slipping back into the red in 2020.

Twitter in March 2020 made a deal with key investors to end an effort to oust the chief, creating a new committee on the board of directors to keep tabs on company leadership.

Dorsey came under pressure in 2020 from Elliott Management amid concerns he had spread himself too thin by running both Twitter and Square.

During Trump's presidency, which ended in January this year, Twitter was widely seen as the medium used to broadcast America's deepening political and cultural rifts.

Dorsey took 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 whipped up a mob of supporters who stormed the US Capitol, where they tried to prevent Joe Biden being confirmed winner of the 2020 election.

New CEO

Twitter's incoming CEO Agrawal joined the company in 2011 and has served as chief technology officer since October 2017, where he was responsible for the network's technical strategy.

Dorsey cited Agrawal's understanding of the company as key to his decision to step down.

"There's a lot of talk about the importance of a company being 'founder led.' Ultimately, I believe that's severely limiting and a single point of failure," Dorsey wrote to Twitter staff.

Agrawal holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.

"We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals, and I believe that strategy to be bold and right," he wrote in his own message to staff.

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