A year after an attempted ouster by a major investor, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down from his role at the company, and longtime CTO Parag Agrawal will take the helm in his place.
It's been over six years since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey retook the CEO seat at the company — in the wake of Dick Costolo's departure — and 13 years since Dorsey last stepped down/was removed from the role the first time around. He went on to found payment processing company Square during his hiatus from Twitter, and for six years he's managed to serve as CEO of both companies at once — something that some Twitter investors believe has been to the detriment of Twitter.
The real reasons for Dorsey's departure may be complicated, and he's no doubt felt some pressure since investor Elliott Management and its founder Paul Singer sought to forcibly oust Dorsey last year. Per CNBC, Elliott issued a diplomatic statement today saying, "Twitter is now executing against an ambitious multi-year plan to dramatically increase the company’s reach and value, and we look forward to the next chapter of Twitter’s story."
Twitter's stock price may be a factor as well, with investors suggesting that Dorsey has been too distracted with Square to focus on necessary innovations at Twitter. As the New York Times notes today, the company's third-quarter earnings report showed a $537 million loss, and the stock price is about the same place it was a year ago, having erased most of the gains it made earlier this year.
Dorsey offered a fuller explanation for his resignation in an email to employees which he subsequently posted in a tweet. "I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders," he says. "I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction."
And in what pretty clearly sounds like a dig at Mark Zuckerberg, Dorsey added, "There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego."
not sure anyone has heard but,— jack⚡️ (@jack) November 29, 2021
I resigned from Twitter pic.twitter.com/G5tUkSSxkl
Also as of today, Twitter board member Bret Taylor is becoming Independent Board Chair. Taylor issued a statement saying, "On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Jack for his visionary leadership and unrelenting dedication to Twitter since its founding. Jack returned to Twitter and turned the Company around at the most critical time. The progress since then has been nothing short of incredible. Jack has given the world something invaluable and we will continue to carry it forward."
Twitter was most in the news in the last five years as the favorite mouthpiece of Donald Trump, and arguably helped to enable Trump's ascendency in politics in the first place. Back in 2016, not long after Trump was elected, Dorsey publicly called Trump's use of the platform "fascinating," though he did not rule out the possibility that Trump could ultimately be banned from Twitter altogether.
That, of course, wouldn't come to pass for four years, but Twitter did outright ban Trump earlier this year in the wake of the January 6th riot at the Capitol.
Facebook subsequently suspended Trump, however following a review of the case by its Oversight Board, Facebook decided that the suspension would be limited to two years.
Twitter sued the Trump Administration in April 2016 after Trump tried to force the company to unmask one of several anonymous "alt" accounts that had popped up to comment on and protest the actions of the administration.
Twitter faces many of the same moderation issues that have become highly problematic for Facebook, however it has managed to skirt some of the criticism Facebook has received over its News Feed algorithm and its use by far-right groups and others to foment violence. And, over time, Twitter's banning of right-wing and racist figures has led to the creation of alternative social platforms that are free of all censorship, but none has gained nearly the traction or broad audience that Twitter has.
Two years ago, Dorsey announced the launch of a new project at Twitter called Project Bluesky, with the intention of using blockchain technology to create a new, decentralized backbone for all social media. Agrawal had been tasked with leading that project, and in August, the company hired cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber to lead Bluesky.
Dorsey will reportedly remain on Twitter's board at least through next year, when his term expires.
Top image: Jack Dorsey arrives on stage at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention, a crypto-currency conference held at the Mana Convention Center in Wynwood on June 04, 2021 in Miami, Florida. The crypto conference is expected to draw 50,000 people and runs from Friday, June 4 through June 6th. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)