Image: Joe Raedle/Staff via Getty Images
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down for the second time since founding the company, Twitter announced Monday. Dorsey will be replaced by current CTO Parag Agrawal.
The announcement ends Dorsey’s uneven, six-year second stint as Twitter CEO. During this time, he more-or-less successfully made Twitter a profitable company and a cultural social media powerhouse, at least with journalists, politicians, and a specific brand of thinkfluencer.
Dorsey cofounded Twitter in 2006 and was its CEO for much of the period between then and 2008, when Ev Williams took over as CEO. Dorsey returned to the company as CEO in 2015 to much fanfare. He inherited a company that was a mess and made headway on some problems while decidedly not fixing many others. For years, Dorsey allowed Donald Trump to incite violence against large segments of the American public, harass and bully whoever he was mad at on a given day, and sow disinformation before finally banning him after the January 6 insurrection.
Dorsey also did not solve Twitter’s broader problem with bullying, harassment, and racism, leading many to simply ask him repeatedly to “ban the Nazis.” While Twitter does have rules, the social network allowed white supremacists to find a foothold with lackluster enforcement mechanisms and a stated goal of allowing people to simply argue against white supremacists to get them to change their ways.
In a tweet, Dorsey published the email he sent internally explaining why he was leaving, citing the fact that he believes Agrawal is the best fit to replace him, and that having Bret Taylor joins as Twitter’s board chair gives him “a lot of confidence in the strength of our board.” Dorsey said he would stay on the company’s board until May, and would then fully leave.
“The third is all of you. We have a lot of ambition and potential on this team,” Dorsey wrote. “Consider this: Parag [Agrawal] started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he’s our CEO. (I also had a similar path…he did it better!) This alone makes me proud.”
“I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction,” he continued. “I love this service and company…and all of you so much. I’m really sad…yet really happy.”
Twitter has recently launched a wave of new products and features with varying levels of success. The site’s “Fleets” feature, which let people upload short form, Instagram story-style videos, was scrapped just shortly after it was launched. Twitter Spaces, an audio chat clone of Clubhouse, seems to be more popular.
The company also recently started the rollout of Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service whose users gain extra benefits like the ability to undo tweets. At the same time, Twitter’s plays in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space have grown, including adding a tipping option in Bitcoin and planning the rollout of verified NFT profile pictures. Dorsey’s personal interest in and cheerleading of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin specifically has become legendary over the years, and in the brief time between the rumor that Dorsey was leaving spreading and the announcement of Agrawal’s takeover, crypto Twitter managed to collectively freak out about the new executive cracking down on crypto. That seems unlikely to happen, since Agrawal oversees Twitter’s internal blockchain team and has excitedly shared staffing announcements in the past.
Dorsey is still the CEO of financial company Square, and in recent months has become much more publicly outspoken about cryptocurrency. Dorsey has not said anything about his future plans yet.