Twitter's woke new CEO Parag Agrawal will be paid a $12million bonus to make changes faster after investors said Jack Dorsey moved too slowly, and the new executive will fast-forward bitcoin payments, let users handle moderation and extend targeted ads.
As of Monday, Agrawal was promoted from his four-year-long role as Twitter's chief technology officer to CEO of the $11billion company - a move that was effective immediately after co-founder Dorsey, 45, stepped down via email, which he later tweeted.
Agrawal, 37, has been a Twitter insider since joining the company in 2011. Co-founder Dorsey - who became Twitter's first CEO in 2007 - looked to the India-born engineer as his confidant in making major decisions and developing the company's infrastructure.
After climbing the ranks at Twitter, Agrawal earned himself a net worth of $1.52million. With this promotion, he will receive an annual salary of $1million, plus bonuses, as well as restricted and performance-based stock unit bonuses valued at $12.5million, according to a company report filed Monday.
As of Monday, Parag Agrawal (left) has been promoted from his four-year-long role as Twitter's chief technology officer to the $11billion company's CEO - a move that was effective immediately after co-founder Jack Dorsey (right), 45, stepped down via email, which he later tweeted
Agrawal's Twitter bio (above) already boasts his new job title and in a public email responding to Dorsey's resignation, the new CEO reminisced on his decade-long career at the company and wrote: 'I've walked in your shoes, I've seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes'
Agrawal kicked off his career at Twitter on the engineering team, where he was key in developing targeted ads, which skyrocketed Twitter's revenue, and quickly became Dorsey's lieutenant, The New York Times reported.
In 2014, Agrawal was counted on to build the social media site's machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities and again in 2019, when he was a key player in developing blockchain technologies.
Despite masterminding many of Twitter's key moves, Agrawal managed to maintain a low profile as Dorsey faced fierce backlash over controversies such as banning former president Donald Trump from the platform and locking the Indian National Congress's account.
In 2019, Agrawal oversaw Twitter's moderation project, known as Bluesky, which allows users to make their own moderation decisions and apply their own algorithms to promote content, according to The New York Times.
He branded the project as a role-shift 'from "we host a bunch of content" to "we guide people toward what they are interested in,"' he told The Times in an interview about Bluesky in June.
'We believe empowering more individuals and third parties could help solve problems for communities and help more people.
'A lot of people want to be part of the solution and now the only way is for them to figure out how to work at Twitter or figure out how to have their community prioritized by a company like ours. That’s some of the thinking and reasoning behind algorithmic choice,' Agrawal added.
Given Agrawal's track record throughout his decade-long career at Twitter, Dorsey wrote in his resignation email Monday: 'Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around.'
Dorsey's handing over of the CEO title to Agrawal also suggests that the new leader will be faster at making decisions and implementing change, something Dorsey has been long been criticized for by Twitter's investors.
Dorsey was appointed Twitter's first CEO in 2007 - a year after he co-founded the social media site. More than 20 years later he stepped down as CEO and announced that Agrawal will take over his position. 'My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep,' Dorsey wrote
Meanwhile, Agrawal has consistently ushered product developments, making him an appealing candidate when it came time for Dorsey to step down.
A person familiar with the succession process told The Times that insiders were critical of Twitter's slow growth, especially when compared to competitors such as Facebook, and hope that Agrawal's appointment could foster faster improvement.
There were also concerns about Dorsey's time being divided between Twitter and payments company Square Inc, which he remains the CEO of. Both are multimillion-dollar companies.
Some Twitter users were surprised by Agrawal's promotion and others were concerned that the former CTO's relationship with Dorsey meant that the co-founder wasn't actually leaving the company for good.
Dorsey also announced that he is going to serve on the board throughout the remainder of his term, which ends 'May-ish,' to help Parag in his 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 added in his resignation email.
He also noted that Agrawal's appointment was 'unanimous,' after 'the board ran a rigorous process considering all options'.
Agrawal lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife Vineeta and two-year-old son Ansh, who even has a Twitter account of his own under the username @littleansh
As the new CEO, Agrawal will now have incredibly tough targets to meet, after Twitter announced earlier this year that it aims to double its annual revenue by 2023 and increase monetizable daily active users to 315million.
'My trust in him as our CEO is bone-deep,' Dorsey said. Before signing off, he was sure to note that his 'one wish is for Twitter Inc to be the most transparent company in the world.'
Yet despite the niceties in his letter on Monday, Dorsey also insisted that he was not pushed out of the company. The 45-year-old explained he had 'worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders' before patting himself on the back by noting that 'there aren't many founders that choose their company over ego'.
But it wouldn't be the first time Dorsey was axed from a leadership position at Twitter. He was booted in 2008 amid claims he kept leaving work early to enjoy other pursuits like yoga and fashion design, and chose improvements to the site over revenue.
In March 2011, Dorsey was named executive chairman and later return when new CEO Dick Costolo announced his resignation in June 2015.
He will now remain on Twitter's board of directors through his current term, which runs through 2022, but will step aside as chairman, with current board member Bret Taylor set to assume those responsibilities. Once his term ends, Dorsey told staff, he will leave the company entirely.
Twitter has lagged behind its competitors in the stock market for the past three years
After news of Dorsey's departure broke, shares of Twitter rose 11 percent but then fell 6 percent before falling further to 5 percent above trading yesterday
However, like his predecessor, new CEO Agrawal seems focused on cryptocurrencies and wants Twitter to become increasingly decentralized, according to The Times.
He previously led a change where Twitter allowed users to send tips in cryptocurrency form, such as Bitcoin.
The Stanford University graduate was described by Dorsey as 'curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware and humble,' while Kevin Quennesson, who oversaw Twitter’s machine learning efforts when Agrawal was promoted to CTO in 2017, told The Times that he would call the new executive 'pragmatic'.
'As one of the early engineers, he built strong internal relationships over the last decade,' Quennesson added.
Bret Taylor (pictured), the president and chief operating officer at Salesforce, was named the new chair of Twitter's board on Monday
According to Agrawal's LinkedIn profile, he worked on research teams for AT&T, Microsoft and Yahoo! before accepting a position at Twitter.
The Indian immigrant now lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife Vineeta and two-year-old son Ansh, who even has a Twitter account of his own under the username @littleansh.
In a tweet on Monday replying to Dorsey's resignation, Agrawal addressed his team as he reminisced about when he 'joined the company 10 years ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees'.
'I've walked in your shoes, I've seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes,' he wrote, adding: 'I recognize that some of you know me well, some just as little, and some not at all. Let's consider ourselves at the beginning.'
Immediately after assuming the position, Agrawal was slammed by Republicans on the app, citing the CEO's past tweets where he boasted that Twitter is 'not bound by the First Amendment'.
And a 2010 tweet resurfaced Monday in which he appears to call all white people 'racists,' which sparked fury and questions about if Agrawal is impartial enough to make decisions on who gets banned from the app and who can tweet freely.
'If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists?' Agrawal tweeted on October 26, 2010.
The tweet was apparently quoting comedian Aasif Mandvi, who had appeared in an episode of The Daily Show in a segment pitting black people against Muslim people, playing on the irrational fear of the two minorities.
A controversial tweet Parag Agrawal wrote in 2010 has resurfaced after he was named the new CEO of Twitter on Monday
Sen Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, shared the tweet and wrote: 'This is Parag Agrawal, Twitter's new CEO and the person who's going to be deciding what kind of speech is allowed on Twitter.'
Mia Cathell, a news editor for the Post Millennial, joked that he apparently does not know how to scrub his own tweets.
Others who celebrated Dorsey's departure are likely to be very disappointed with his replacement, as Agrawal implied in an interview last year he would ignore the First Amendment.
Colorado Rep Lauren Boebert tweeted: 'Jack Dorsey is rumored to be stepping down as Twitter CEO. Great. He's been a disaster.
'Hopefully someone who believes in free speech and our Constitution will take the reins and reinstate the tons of Americans unfairly banned.'
After CNBC broke the news of Dorsey's imminent departure, Twitter's share price soared by 11 percent, while those of Square Inc, which Dorsey also serves as the CEO of, were up 3 percent.
By 10am Monday, NASDAQ had announced it would halt trading on the social media giant, but it soon resumed after Dorsey's announcement, dropping 6 percent to be up only 5 percent from the day before.
By the afternoon, shares of the social media giant dipped nearly 1 percent and as of 10am Tuesday, Twitter shares were down nearly 3 percent
On Sunday, Dorsey had tweeted: 'I love Twitter.'