The app that, arguably above all others, has transformed the way we consume and interact with the news is falling into a new set of hands for the first time since its inception. The man often referred simply by his Twitter handle, @jack (full name; Jack Dorsey), announced that he would be leaving his post as CEO, bringing in a new era for the company that is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
The now 45-year-old Dorsey has been with the company from the jump, conceiving, designing and co-founding the game-changing app back in 2006 while an undergraduate at New York University and has watched over the company as CEO since 2015. Dorsey’s tenure has coincided with a particularly tricky period in the ongoing social media timeline and much of his public action in the last few years has centered around the presence of misinformation and, subsequently, Twitter’s role in moderating it while still being able to call itself an open platform. As a result, Dorsey has often been in the crosshairs from just about all sides, some lamenting his lack of action in preventing the spread of ‘fake news’, others accusing him of bias and attacking freedom of speech. The resignation comes as somewhat of a surprise but when one considers the immense pressure of the role and the severe scrutiny that has been directed Dorsey’s way in the last few years (including several grilling’s by US Congress members during bBig tTech hearings) , it is not hard to understand why the reserved figure would be ready to step out of the limelight.
Moving into the big seat in Dorsey’s absence will be 37-year-old Parag Agrawal, who has filled the role of CTO at the company since 2017. The engineering whiz is often credited for his technical contributions to Twitter’s significant audience growth around 2016 and ‘17 and his appointment to CEO apparently received unanimous approval from board members. However, Agrawal’s tenure immediately got off to a rocky start, as it appeared the new man-in-charge had failed the first rule of Twitter fame; go through your old tweets and deleted ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that could be even remotely controversial or incriminating. Yes, the immense irony of the new Twitter CEO being immediately tripped up by one of the platforms’ most consistent traps almost feels too good to be true. While the somewhat contrived outrage over Agrawal’s edgy decade-old posts (this one was actually just Agrawal quoting a guest on The Daily Show) will likely wear off fairly quickly, Agrawal enters the fold during a complicated time for tech platforms with hot button issues like user privacy, data access and the aforementioned debate over social media platforms role in censoring hate speech and misinformation, all continuing to develop. It’s worth noting the move also falls in the midst of Twitter‘s attempts to review and adapt its advertising model, with the lofty goal of aiming to double revenue by the end of 2023 set earlier this year.
Agrawal himself acknowledged the challenges ahead in a memo to his employees following the announcement of his promotion, ominously declaring that the “world is watching us right now, even more than they have before.” For what it’s worth, Agrawal has received a full and glowing public endorsement of his predecessor, describing his trust in Agrawal’s ability to thrive in the role as “bone deep” and labelling his contributions to the company thus far as “transformational” in a company-wide memo following the news of his departure.
Agrawal appears to have it all ahead of him and it will be fascinating to see how the changing of the guard in the top seat affects Twitter trajectory going forward. With a myriad of big issues on the horizon, there’s little doubt the new boss will have his work cut out for him. My only piece of advice; just scrub your damn tweets, Parag. There’s few places on Earth as unforgiving as the Twitterverse (you should know, you’ve only be working with it for a decade!).
Image courtesy of Mark Warner.