Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down, marking the end of an era for the company that has been molded and steered by its forward-thinking and, at times, disoriented founder.
Dorsey will continue to serve on Twitter’s board of directors at least until next year.
The news, which was first reported by CNBC, was unexpected, especially given the timing: a Monday morning and a Twitter company holiday following the Thanksgiving holiday.
In other ways, Dorsey’s departure has been long anticipated. Wall Street investors have chastised the Twitter co-founder for his other interests, which include running Square, another important tech company he founded, pursuing futuristic projects centered on decentralizing the internet with blockchain, and traveling the world. Within the last year, the formidable activist investor Elliott Management has pushed him to resign even sooner.
Dorsey’s successor is former Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal, who has been with the company for ten years and is regarded as a trusted leader by his peers.
Agrawal was in charge of Dorsey’s vision of creating a decentralized version of social media based on blockchain technology, allowing users to choose their own algorithms.
While it’s too early to say whether or not Twitter will operate differently under Agrawal’s leadership, we do know that the company is losing its visionary, forward-thinking founder.
He may have been an absent CEO at times, but he was respected by many in the tech industry for inventing a platform that engaged the public in conversation about topics ranging from trivial to world-changing, all while maintaining a sense of humour and an eccentric personal style.
“I want you to understand that this was my action, and I fully accept responsibility.”
“Naturally, I found it difficult. Of course, it was difficult for me. I adore this service and company… and all of you. I’m really sad… yet really happy, Dorsey wrote in a company email that he also tweeted on Monday.
“There aren’t many businesses that attain this level.”
“There are not too many founders who put their company ahead of their ego. I’m confident that we’ll be able to show that we made the right decision.”
There’s still a lot we don’t know about Twitter’s leadership transition.
We should learn more about the circumstances surrounding Dorsey’s departure and how the company will change under Agrawal in the coming weeks.
However, it is now clear that Dorsey’s departure is just another example of a trend at other major technology companies.
When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made his decision to step down as CEO earlier this year, my colleague Peter Kafka wrote that Big Tech has grown so large that it no longer requires its demigod-like startup founders at the helm.
Bezos, Apple’s Steve Jobs, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page all handed over their companies to trusted stewards with more low-key personas — and those companies are still doing well financially.