SAN FRANCISCO — Jack Dorsey resigned Monday as CEO of Twitter, the social networking site he co-founded in 2006 and navigated the turbulent years of the Trump administration and growing calls for regulation from lawmakers around the world.
He was replaced by Parag Agrawal, the company’s current chief technology officer who had recently been working on crypto-related technologies, who became fascinated by power brokers in the tech industry, including Mr. Dorsey.
Mr. Dorsey’s exit marks an important shift in the company that has sped its way Years of pressure from investors who thought it wasn’t making enough money, and criticism from Washington, especially Republican lawmakers who complained about Twitter, helped stifle conservative voices on social media.
Most notable was that of former President Donald J. Trump, who used his tweets to threaten enemies and keep his allies in line. Twitter banned Mr. Trump shortly after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Mr. Dorsey, 45, who is also the CEO of payments company Square, was fired from the top job at Twitter in 2008 but returned in 2015. Mr. Dorsey’s plans were first reported by CNBC. A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment after the announcement.
His passing represented the second major shake-up in recent times at a major social media company. Last month, Facebook rebranded itself as Meta. The change was accompanied by a new company logo and an emphasis on a virtual world called Metaverse, but Mark Zuckerberg, the prominent CEO, will still run the company.
The departure of Mr. Dorsey, who has been associated with Twitter since its early days, is a crucial change in guarding the company. While Twitter is nowhere near as close, Mr. Dorsey’s name has been as closely associated with Twitter as Zuckerberg’s has been with Facebook. He’s become a celebrity outside of Silicon Valley, mocking “Saturday Night Live” and taking advantage of his social media platform for his long facial hair and personal health pursuits.
“If you step back and think about who has had a significant impact on social media over the past decade, the Jack Dorsey name will always come up,” said Tim Hubbard, associate professor of management at Mendoza College at the University of Notre Dame. Business.
Like Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Dorsey has been called to Washington to testify about the moderation of his company’s content and censorship complaints. But the decision to remove Mr. Trump’s account was made by one of Dorsey’s aides. Mr. Dorsey was working on a private island in French Polynesia when this happened – fueling concern that he was not fully involved with his company.
Mr. Dorsey said in an email to Twitter employees that he wanted Twitter to stop being a founder-led company, which could be a weakness over time.
“I have worked very hard to ensure that this company can be separated from its founders and founders,” Mr. Dorsey wrote. “I think it is extremely important for the company to be able to stand on its own, apart from the influence or direction of its founder.”
There are not many companies that reach this level. “There aren’t many founders who choose their company over their egos,” Dorsey added.
Mr. Dorsey’s leadership and focus have been questioned by employees and investors for some time. His departure comes a year and a half after Mr. Dorsey survived an attempt to oust him from activist investor Elliot Management.
One of Elliott’s concerns was that Mr. Dorsey’s interest was divided between the two companies he led. The company believed that Twitter had lagged behind its social media competitors in increasing its share price and adding innovative new products.
Some employees crowded around Mr. Dorsey while trying to force him out, using the hashtag #WeBackJack as a rallying cry.
In March 2020, Elliott Management struck a deal with Silver Lake, one of Silicon Valley’s largest investors in technology companies, which allowed Mr. Dorsey to stay on Twitter. The deal also gave Jesse Cohn, the Elliott CEO who oversaw Twitter’s campaign, a seat on Twitter’s board of directors, which he relinquished in June. Mr. Cohn was part of a five-member panel that led a review of Twitter CEO succession planning.
“Our collaboration with Jack and the company over the past two years has been productive and efficient,” said Mr. Cohn and Elliott Management’s portfolio manager Mark Steinberg in a joint statement. They also paid tribute to Mr. Agrawal and new Chairman Brett Taylor, saying: “We are confident they are the right leaders for Twitter at this pivotal moment for the company.”
After a takeover attempt in 2020, Twitter’s stock began to climb, and in February, Mr. Dorsey announced an ambitious plan to double Twitter’s revenue by the end of 2023.
But some of Twitter’s stock market gains have slipped in recent months, with the stock now valued roughly the same as it was a year ago. In the third quarter, Twitter said its revenue grew 37 percent from a year ago, to $1.28 billion, but incurred a loss of $537 million.
Lawmakers have called on Twitter to do more to tackle disinformation and hate speech on the platform, while others have accused Mr Dorsey of censorship and argued that Twitter should allow more content to remain online.
Temperance issues were a constant nuisance to Mr. Dorsey. He envisioned Twitter as a platform for freedom of expression and was troubled by the idea of removing content, particularly from world leaders and other personalities of news importance.
Mr. Trump’s incendiary tweets tested Mr. Dorsey’s stance. Twitter was initially compromised by labeling some of Mr Trump’s tweets as misinformation, before eventually removing his account.
Mr Dorsey, who will remain on Twitter’s board until the next election in 2022, confirmed that he had made the decision to leave and was not forced to leave. A person familiar with his thinking and who has not been allowed to speak publicly said he recently discussed his desire to leave Twitter and focus on projects in the cryptocurrency space and philanthropy.
In recent years, Mr. Dorsey has become increasingly interested in cryptocurrencies and the principle of technological decentralization. He said in 2019 that Twitter would help build a decentralized form of social media that would allow users to create their own algorithms to promote content and tweak their communities rather than relying on a tech company to make those decisions.
Mr. Dorsey tapped Mr. Agrawal to oversee Twitter’s contributions to the project, known as Bluesky, which is funded by Twitter but operates independently. In August, Twitter hired Jay Graber, a cryptocurrency developer and founder of a social events startup, to lead Bluesky.
Mr. Agrawal is a non-prominent figure who started his Twitter career over a decade ago, as an engineer. He worked his way through the company and took over as CTO in 2017.
“Parag was behind every critical decision that helped change the direction of this company,” Dorsey said in his email. “My trust in him as our CEO is very deep.”
The majority of Mr. Dorsey’s fortune comes from Square, which he founded in 2009 during his recent departure from Twitter. Last April, Mr. Dorsey announced that he would donate $1 billion, or roughly a third of his total fortune, to coronavirus-related relief programs and other charitable endeavours. Mr. Dorsey also provided $15 million for Guaranteed Income projects, which allow cities to provide financial support to residents in need.
Twitter stock jumped 5 percent after news of Mr. Dorsey’s departure before trading halted.
“That’s because he was running two companies at the same time,” Hubbard said of the investor reaction. “If I take the pressure off the CEO to run two companies, I think the value of the company will go up.”
On Sunday evening, in what may have been a harbinger of upcoming news, Mr. Dorsey tweeted, “I love Twitter.”
This is an evolving story. Check again for updates.