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Parag Agrawal is Twitter’s new CEO, but who is he?

by Ashima

The announcement was made after Jack Dorsey decided to resign.

By Ashima Sethi

Last night, news broke that Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey was stepping down from his position. The announcement was made to the public via Dorsey’s Twitter page, where he explained that he believes that if the company remains ‘founder-led’ it would be limiting to its growth, and that the right time had come because he finally had the right team in place.

He concluded the lengthy message by saying that his decision to leave was entirely his and that he ‘owns it,’ while also reiterating that it was a very difficult to move to make. He said, “I’m really sad…yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose the company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.”

That being said, Dorsey has given the sought-after position of CEO to Parag Agrawal, who has been working at Twitter for the last decade in several positions. He was a distinguished software engineer in 2011 before climbing the ranks to become their Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2017, a role he worked in until he was named the social media giant’s new CEO. So what do we really know about the man taking over the reigns in one of Silicon Valley’s most high-profile jobs?

37-year old Agrawal was born in Mumbai, India to a father who was a senior official in the Indian Department of Atomic Energy and a mother who is now a retired school teacher. He attended the Atomic Energy Central School No. 4 and was a bright student with a gift for science and mathematics. He even won a gold medal at the 2001 International Physics Olympiad hosted in Turkey.

After completing his studies, he pursued an undergraduate degree from the ultra-competitive Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 2005, before moving to the U.S. to pursue a PhD in computer science and philosophy at Stanford University. Before joining Twitter, Agrawal worked in leadership roles at AT&T, Microsoft Research and Yahoo! Research, which makes him no stranger to the ins-and-outs of the industry.

Considered an ‘unknown executive’ when compared to names like Musk and Zuckerberg in the world of tech, it has been reported that his ‘lack of recognition and solid technical background’ are actually some of the traits that secured him the position as CEO, as Twitter backers and board members were looking to promote internally and were looking for someone who they could categorise as a ‘safe pick.’

According to Dorsey, Agrawal has been his choice for some time because “of how deeply he understands the company and its needs…Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware and humble. He leads with heart and soul and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as CEO is bone-deep” he said in his official statement.

In the past, Twitter has been met with serious controversy about their transparency, content curation, supposed ‘promotion of hate speech,’ and choice to ban figures like Trump from their platform. It is believed that Agrawal is seen as a suitable candidate who will be able to tackle said issues without any added drama, while also focusing on the company’s new strategy to double its annual revenue by 2023.

One of the most glaring issues the social media platform is facing in the coming years is the fact that the new generation are opting to sign up for platforms like Instagram and TikTok rather than the idea-sharing outlet. How Twitter plans to appeal to the younger demographic and tackle the aforementioned problems in order to usher in a ‘new age’ remains to be seen.

Regardless, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that news like this instills a sense of pride in every Indian when we see one of our own making it to the top of some of the world’s most recognised businesses.

You can read Agrawal and Dorsey’s full statements here.

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