Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down, the company confirmed Monday. The massive vacancy that move creates will be filled by Twitter’s chief technology officer Parag Agrawal.
Who? Parag Agrawal. Though his profile hasn’t exactly been high, Agrawal has been a key lieutenant of Dorsey’s for years. Here are a few things to know about Twitter’s new chief.
1. He’s a Twitter veteran. Agrawal, 37, has spent most of his career at Twitter. He joined the company in 2011 and took the CTO role in 2017.
2. His past took him from Mumbai to Stanford. He holds a PhD in computer science from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in Mumbai, India. Before coming to Twitter, Agrawal did research internships at AT&T, Microsoft, and Yahoo.
3. He’s championed AI. Agrawal increased the speed of new technology deployment at Twitter, and also sought to increase the use of machine learning across the company’s systems. Before becoming CTO, he focused on ways to increase audience growth in 2016 and 2017.
4. According to Dorsey, Agrawal gets Twitter. Dorsey wrote in an internal message that he had planned on Agrawal to succeed him “for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs.”
5. His eye is on the future. Agrawal was involved in hiring Jay Graber in August, the new lead for Twitter’s Project Bluesky. The research initiative, which Agrawal helmed when it was announced in December 2019, is focused on developing a set of open and decentralized standards that would give users more control of their content, help social media companies collaborate on how posts are promoted, and potentially allow for more effective management of misinformation and other harmful content.
— Vineeta Agarwala (@vintweeta) October 21, 2015
Right wing media was busy Monday scouring Agrawal’s past tweets in search of something damning. They seized on this tweet from a decade ago in which Agrawal quotes a line from a Daily Show episode . . .
"If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists."
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) October 26, 2010
For some right-wing outlets, intentionally missing Agrawal’s point opened the door for some extra dog-whistley headlines. A Breitbart headline early Monday bawled: “Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal: ‘why should I distinguish between white people and racists?'” National File howls: “New Twitter CEO claims . . . there’s no distinction between white people and racists.” The Right gets political mileage out of claiming that big tech company CEOs–especially ones that oversee social media platforms–actively suppress “conservative viewpoints.”
Agrawal will also fill a chair on Twitter’s board of directors. Dorsey will remain a member of the board until his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders, the company says.
Monday’s other major staffing news is that Bret Taylor, who had been a Twitter board member, will become the new chairman of the board. Taylor was CTO of Facebook from 2009-2012, cofounded the once-influential social media aggregator FriendFeed, created online collaboration tool Quip and sold it to Salesforce, and is also the apparent Salesforce CEO heir apparent.