Founder Jack Dorsey quits Twitter

Founder Jack Dorsey leaves Twitter. The CEO has divided his time between Twitter and his fintech company Square since 2015. “It’s time for me to go,” Dorsey said in a statement. Parag Agrawal, former technology director at Twitter, will become CEO.

On Monday, CNBC announced that it had received word from various sources that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey would be leaving the company. Before that news was confirmed, Twitter’s share rose 11 percent. The 45-year-old tech entrepreneur confirmed the news on Twitter just hours later. He did that with a screenshot of his goodbye email to his employees. “My only wish for Twitter is for it to become the most transparent company in the world,” he explains. Followed by: “Hello, Mom!”

In his statement, he also immediately announced that he is handing over the keys to Twitter HQ to Parag Agrawal, formerly the chief technology officer of the social media company, with immediate effect. “My confidence in him is profound,” Dorsey wrote. The board of directors also unanimously endorses his appointment. Dorsey showers him with praise: ‘He is curious, decisive, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and modest’, it sounds. “I’m still learning from him every day.”

The outgoing CEO will serve his term on the board until May to help smooth the transition. Then he hangs his activities with the blue bird permanently on the willows. “I think it’s important that Parag has the space to lead,” Dorsey said. The CEO, who is known to look up to Apple figurehead Steve Jobs, says in his farewell that too much importance is attached to the cliché that a company should be run by its founder. ‘That limits the view and is the cause of a lot of failure’, it sounds sharp.

Failed Opportunities

It is a striking passage. In 2006, Jack Dorsey founded Twitter, but two years later he left the CEO role to Evan Williams. In 2015, Dorsey is back at the helm. Expectations were high. Only he, the founder, could re-inspire the staff and users, it said at the time. It became a sofa.

A typical example: Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and continued its expansion. Twitter bought Vine that same year, but pulled the plug in 2016. A year later, Chinese Tiktok conquered teenage hearts worldwide with a Vine-like service for short, creative videos. Dorsey’s achievement at Twitter? Double the length of a tweet from 140 to 280 characters. Recent novelties such as the ‘fleet’ were withdrawn shortly after launch.

Dorsey’s position was controversial for another reason. Critics say he didn’t have his priorities straight. Before retiring as CEO of Twitter, he founded Square, a fintech company that designs a payment system for stores. Dorsey forced him to remain CEO of both companies. Investors sought to exploit that weakness. In February 2020, the investment fund Elliott Management staged a failed coup on Twitter. The shareholders, led by ‘robber baron’ Paul Singer, felt that Twitter was under its weight. Dorsey made just enough concessions to placate the investors and was able to stay on.

Trumps nemesis

That same year, the enigmatic Twitter CEO managed to strengthen his position again through his bold action against then-President Trump. Twitter was the first to put fact-checks on messages from Trump in which he spread untruths. Warnings followed Trump’s “violence glorifying” tweets. Dorsey thus increased the pressure on other social media companies. It would eventually lead to Trump’s social media ban after storming the US Congress.

But moral leadership does not necessarily lead to business leadership. The dust surrounding Trump’s ban has now settled. And the fact that the stock markets immediately rose by 11 percent after rumors of his dismissal, is a sign on the wall. Although it could also be that Dorsey has finally made a choice. In August, his Square paid $29 billion for the Australian afterpay. With that, it launched the attack on credit cards. The company may also delve into cryptocurrencies.

“I love Twitter,” @jack tweeted a day before he left. A declaration of love at the breakup? Jack Dorsey seems determined to part ways on good terms.

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