WASHINGTON: Yet another major global tech
company will be headed by an executive of Indian-origin. Parag Agrawal, an IIT
Bombay alumnus and chief technology officer of Twitter will take over as CEO of
the social media platform immediately following the departure of its co-founder
CEO Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey himself confirmed the transition after hours of raging speculation that
he was being ousted by the Twitter board. “I’ve decided to leave Twitter
because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders….The
board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed
Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the
company and its needs,” he said in a message to Twitter staff.
“Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this
company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding,
self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn
from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep,” he added.
Agrawal, who graduated from IIT Mumbai before earning a PhD in Computer Science
from Stanford University, has worked in Microsoft, Yahoo, and AT&T labs
before joining Twitter in 2011.
With his elevation as CEO, more than half dozen global tech majors now have
Indian-Americans at the helm, including Google’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s
Satya Nadella, IBM’s Arving Krishna, and Adobe Shantanu Narayen.
Dorsey heartily endorsed Agrawal in a farewell message to Twitter staff which
also explained his exit.
“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.
I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and
founders,” he explained.
“Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now
he’s our CEO (I also had a similar path…he did it better!). This alone makes
me proud. I know that Parag will be able to channel this energy best because
he’s lived it and knows what it takes,” Dorsey said.
A college drop-out who co-founded Twitter in 2005, Dorsey remained
controversial during his two stints as CEO, including in India where he ran
into trouble during a 2018 visit when he held up a placard showing a woman
holding a sign that read “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy” angering some
Indian activists who accused him of inciting hatred against the community.
Twitter India said the poster was handed to Dorsey by a Dalit activist when it
hosted a closed-door discussion with a group of women and it was a “tangible
reflection of our company’s efforts to see, hear, and understand all sides of
important public conversations that happen on our service around the world.”
The company later apologised through Vijaya Gadde the company’s legal head who
was also in the mix to head Twitter after Dorsey’s exit, who said the poster
“is not reflective of our views.”
“We should have been more thoughtful. Twitter strives to be an impartial
platform for all. We failed to do that here & we must do better to serve
our customers in India,” she explained.
The social media platform attracts ire from all quarters and all comers — from
left liberals who believes it often folds to pressure from authoritarian
governments and leaders and from the conservatives on the right who believe
liberals have a run of the platform while they are being censored.
Speculation about Dorsey’s exit or ouster had raged for months amid reports of
differences with other board members. In his farewell message, Dorsey said
“Parag is CEO starting today” while disclosing that he (Dorsey) was
going to serve on the board through my term (May-ish) to help Parag and Bret
(the new Board chair) with the transition.”
“And after that…I’ll leave the board. Why not stay or become chair? I
believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead. And
back to my previous point, I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its
own, free of its founder’s influence or direction,” Dorsey concluded.