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TUESDAY, September 27, 2022
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down

TUESDAY, November 30, 2021

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was stepping down from the social media service in a letter posted to Twitter early Monday.

Dorsey, who co-founded the company and has been a leader there for the last 18 years, said his departure would be effective immediately, leaving Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal to replace him. Dorsey will remain CEO of payments company Square.

"I want you to know this was my decision and I own it," Dorsey wrote, saying he was "sad" but also "really happy." "It was a tough one for me, of course. . . . There aren't many companies that get to this level. And there aren't many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we'll prove this was the right move."

The message was captioned, "not sure if anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter."

The surprise move caused Nasdaq to suspend trading on Twitter's stock, and left most employees - many of whom were not working because it was an official company "Day of Rest" - in a state of confusion.

Even some senior executives seemed unprepared for the move. Vijaya Gadde, the company's legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, tweeted congratulations to Agrawal and gratitude to Dorsey - but said she was "saving my 'everything I learned from @Jack' thread for another day."

The departure was first reported by CNBC.

Dorsey has been distancing himself from direct leadership for years, according to people familiar with his management style who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Major decisions are generally made by other company leaders, though Dorsey does give a final sign-off. He also rarely tweets about Twitter, focusing most of his public energy promoting blockchain, decentralization, and bitcoin-related projects.

Though Twitter is much smaller than industry rivals Facebook and TikTok, the company punches above its weight because of its use by celebrities, politicians and other influential people. For years, the most influential user on Twitter was former President Donald Trump, who used the platform as a primary means to communicate - often in ways that pushed the boundaries of Twitter's rules. The company suspended him for comments related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Dorsey himself is known as a big thinker who is able to make controversial and often sudden decisions. For example, well before remote work became a trend due to the pandemic, Dorsey sent an unexpected companywide email telling employees that he had become a believer in remote work after having a productive time working from home, and would pivot the company in that direction. The email even took the company's head of HR by surprise, The Washington Post has reported.

He is also a longtime free speech proponent who did not believe that platforms should heavily police the expression of their users. But he has shifted that stance in recent years after recognizing the way that social media can cause harm to the public. Dorsey was one of the first CEOs in Silicon Valley to publicly criticize the design of social media services, with instant feedback and viral algorithms, and to admit that they have unintended consequences in the form of unhealthy social behavior and pressure. He said he would be willing to hit the pause button or rethink key features like the like button or disable automatic retweeting, which the company did for a time during the election period last year. As a result, the company created an initiative called Healthy Conversations, investing significant resources in cracking down on bullying, fake accounts, and other abuses of the company's service.

In his own note to staff sent out in the morning, Agrawal said that he was "honored and humbled," by Dorsey choosing him as the successor and noted that the company had recently updated its strategy to hit ambitious goals.

One of those ambitions is a project called Bluesky, an effort at creating decentralized Internet networking protocols that is a passion of both Dorsey and Agrawal, the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

Dorsey's note also appeared to nod at the state of leadership in Silicon Valley, noting that "there's a lot of talk about the importance of a company being 'founder-led,' " and that he had "worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders."

Dorsey's move leaves Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg as the last remaining founder of a major Silicon Valley service to continue serving as CEO. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stepped down recently, and Google's founders also have passed the baton.