For anyone looking forward to a new broomstick on Twitter, the promotion of Parag Agrawal to the role of CEO this week may be an anti-climax.
Monday Suddenly announced Co-founder Jack Dorsey’s immediate resignation—he left the company abruptly for the second time—suggests that deeper changes may be taking place. Dorsey may have controlled the timing to a certain extent, but after the instigation of radical shareholders, including asking his mind two years ago, his exit method left the obvious impression of an untidy compromise.
However, Agrawal has all the characteristics of a perfect insider and has always been a close ally of the outgoing CEO. He spent 10 years advancing on Twitter’s engineering team, became chief technology officer four years ago, and is closely related to many of Dorsey’s own innermost plans.
“Basically, he is part of the building,” said a former Twitter colleague, who warned against expecting any major changes in the company.
Another pointed out that having Dorsey’s ears gave Agrawal a special place in the Twitter hierarchy. The person familiar with the matter said that if you want to present an idea to the company’s sometimes remote CEO, the best way to start is usually to work with Agrawal first.
Nevertheless, Agrawal’s promotion to one of the hottest seats in the technology industry may mark a turning point. The former employee described a company struggling to restore confidence after a series of product failures. It lost its desire for the kind of constant experimentation and product iteration known to the most successful companies in Silicon Valley. Fans of Agrawal claim that he has solved these problems well.
Little known outside of Twitter, his experience as an engineer and product owner has earned him a good reputation among colleagues and some Twitter investors. He came to the United States as a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai in 2005. Just like the CEOs of Microsoft and IBM born in India, his appointment was seen as an attempt to bring stronger engineering leadership to a company facing the risk of failure . Its technical advantages.
In his first year at Twitter, he participated in helping transform its technological infrastructure, laying a solid foundation for the faster product innovation and growth that Wall Street encouraged. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and then came to this company, and did research at Microsoft, Yahoo, and AT&T.
This work made him the first “outstanding engineer” of Twitter-this title has given a huge position in the elite engineering circle of Silicon Valley, but has rarely paved the way for the CEO position.
After assuming the top technical job, Agrawal tried to speed up Twitter’s new product cycle. The result is an acceleration of new product launches, including the audio chat room service launched in the past year and Twitter’s first subscription service. However, neither has changed the rules of the game.
Twitter has doubled its investment in engineering and product development, and this week also appointed one of Silicon Valley’s top product managers as chairman. Although only 30 years old, Bret Taylor’s track record includes helping create Google Maps, serving as Facebook’s chief technology officer, and founding two startup companies. Recently, he became the top product guru of Salesforce. On the second day after Twitter’s reorganization, the news that Taylor was also appointed as the co-CEO of this business software company peaked his rise.
Even in the closely connected personal network of Silicon Valley, this may be the first time. Five years ago, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff (Marc Benioff) tried to acquire Twitter, but then backed down due to shareholder pressure. Now, his newly appointed co-CEO is directing the internal affairs of Twitter’s board of directors.
The company’s former head of engineering, Alex Roetter, said that pure engineering thinking at the top can overcome the indecision of sneaking into Twitter under Dorsey’s leadership. Engineers “tend to look at data and handle things,” he said, adding Agrawal: “He is very data-driven and he can be nervous. He has a low tolerance for sub-optimal things. But he has a way to make people willing and He works together.”
At the same time, regardless of his technical achievements, Agrawal’s lack of experience in the eyes of the public may be an obstacle for this company that plays a huge role in the cultural zeitgeist, which is often at the center of political storms due to alleged social media prejudice. The spread of misinformation.
A former employee said that Dorsey’s personal connections helped Twitter become a cultural phenomenon and improved its image among celebrities. The person explained that “they are always a bit star-studded” to meet with the founder and CEO, adding that in this regard, Agrawal will struggle to fill Dorsey’s position.
As Wall Street desperately needs results, the new CEO cannot count on a honeymoon. Twitter’s ambitious growth goals require it to increase its daily active users by half by the end of 2023, and investors can’t wait for its business to reach a scale that matches its considerable influence in the social media world.
One shareholder insisted: “By focusing on the product roadmap and monetizing this large and growing user base, this can become a $200 billion company.”
However, the valuation has been going backwards recently, falling below US$35 billion. The company’s share price has fallen by nearly half from its February high, roughly falling to the level at the end of Twitter’s first day as a public company eight years ago.
Dorsey resigned after failing to convince investors that he could make meaningful changes to Twitter’s growth trajectory. To avoid the same fate, Agrawal needs to come up with some quick results.
Additional reporting by Antoine Gara and Hannah Murphy