By naming Parag Agrawal as chief executive officer, Twitter Inc. is turning inward, choosing a low-profile technologist to steer a social network that has underperformed the market, haltingly introduced new products, and struggled to moderate harmful content under a leader long criticized for divided attention.
Agrawal, 37, was named on Monday to succeed co-founder Jack Dorsey after a four-year stint as CTO, a role where he oversaw Twitter’s pursuit of blockchain and other decentralized technologies. Dorsey, 45, will remain on the board through the summer and will stay at the helm of Square Inc., the payments company he also co-founded.
Twitter’s new CEO Agrawal has become the youngest CEO leading an S&P 500 company, only slightly younger than Meta Platform Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Agrawal, a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay’s 2005 batch, replaced Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down from the executive role.
Who is Parag Agrawal?
Agrawal was the chief technology officer of Twitter before being named Dorsey’s replacement Monday. According to Bloomberg, the new CEO was born in 1984, the same year as Zuckerberg but later than the Facebook founder’s May 14 birthday.
Queries sent to Twitter on Monday seeking confirmation of Agrawal’s age did not elicit a response.
After completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Agrawal pursued a doctorate from Stanford University.
As CTO, he has been responsible for the company’s technical strategy, and overseeing machine learning and AI across the company.
Since joining Twitter in 2011, he has led efforts on scaling Twitter Ads systems, as well as re-accelerating user growth by improving home timeline relevance.
Prior to joining Twitter, Agrawal was involved with research in large-scale data management with collaborators at Microsoft Research, Yahoo! Research, and AT&T Labs.
How did the markets react to the announcement?
Ahead of the US markets opening on Monday, the news of Dorsey stepping down broke, in response to which the shares of Twitter jumped 10 percent on the opening bell.
The scrip later erased gains and closed 2.74 percent lower than its previous close on NASDAQ.
Why did Jack Dorsey resign?
In an mail to Twitter employees, Dorsey wrote: “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.”
Twitter’s Board of Directors had been looking for a replacement for Dorsey since the last one year, in an attempt to get a full-time CEO for the microblogging site.
The 45-year old co-founder of Twitter has been allocating his time to his other ventures including digital payments firm Square, which he also co-founded.
According to reports, the board of Twitter had been looking for a full-time CEO for the social media company since the last one year. Dorsey, co-founded Twitter in 2006, and served as CEO till 2008 before he was pushed out of his role.
He returned to the company in the executive role in 2015 after former CEO Dick Costolo resigned.
What does it mean for Agrawal?
For Agrawal, the appointment has come at a time when Twitter is aggressively pushing for growth. Earlier this year, the firm announced its aims to have 315 million monetisable daily active users by the end of 2023 and to at least double its annual revenue by then.
He takes over the company’s executive role when it has come under fire from investors for not launching any new monetisable product for years — something that led to the 2023 plan being announced.