The Margin: Who is Parag Agrawal? 5 things to know about the new CEO of Twitter
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sent the business world atwitter on Monday morning after announcing he is stepping down — effective immediately — and being replaced by the social media company’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal.
“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” Dorsey said in a press release. “My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead.”
Agrawal responded by tweeting that he has “so much excitement for the future” in a post where he also shared a note that he sent to the company. His name was soon trending on Twitter
and on Google
“Our purpose has never been more important,” he wrote. “Our people and our culture are unlike anything in the world. There is no limit to what we can do together.”
So who exactly is Dorsey’s successor? Here are five quick facts about Parag Agrawal, the new CEO of Twitter.
He’s spent the past 15 years working in tech.
Agrawal graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, according to his LinkedIn page, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, before spending seven years earning a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in California. Beginning in 2006, he held research internships at tech giants including Microsoft
Yahoo and AT&T
before joining Twitter in 2011.
He’s been at Twitter for a decade already.
Agrawal noted in his letter to the company, which he shared on Twitter on Monday, that he joined the social network 10 years ago “when there were fewer than 1,000 employees.” His LinkedIn profile reveals that he spent six years working as a distinguished software engineer at Twitter between 2011 and 2017, before being promoted four years ago to chief technology officer.
“I’ve walked in your shoes,” he wrote in a letter to Twitter employees on Monday. “I’ve seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes.”
Dorsey described him as “curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self aware, and humble,” in his own letter. “Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around,” he added.
He has been in charge of A.I. and machine learning strategy.
According to Twitter’s leadership page, Agrawal was responsible for Twitter’s technical strategy, including advancing the state of artificial intelligence and machine learning across the company, such as projects to make the tweets in a person’s timeline more relevant to them, or to identify potentially “bad” tweets that violate Twitter’s terms of service.
He was also in charge of finding a leader for Project Bluesky in December 2019, which was an independent team of architects, engineers and designers tasked with developing an “open and decentralized standard for social media” so that platforms like Twitter would play a less centralized role in deciding which users have a voice online.
He’s already getting flack for a 2010 tweet taken out of context.
Speaking of “bad” and “relevant” tweets, one of Agrawal’s tweets from 2010 resurfaced and went viral following news of his new CEO role on Monday. In October 2010, Agrawal quoted “The Daily Show’s” Aasif Mandvi in posting, “If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists.” He clarified in a subsequent tweet that he was quoting “The Daily Show.” But some Twitter users began sharing his post again, and interpreting it as a sign that he was promoting stereotypes.
Agrawal has to meet some big company goals in the next few years.
Twitter Inc. has said that it wants to have 315 million monetizable daily active users by the end of 2023, and to at least double its annual revenue in that year. Fortunately, his bio on Twitter’s leadership page credits him with having an impact on the re-acceleration of Twitter’s audience growth in 2016 and 2017.