Jack Dorsey, the co-founded of social media giant Twitter in 2006, is leaving from the post of CEO, he said Monday.
Dorsey, 45, will remain on Twitter’s board of directors until next May, according to an email to staff that Dorsey tweeted. Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal, will replace Dorsey as CEO effective immediately, the company said.
The announcement comes a year after an activist investor reportedly sought to replace Dorsey as CEO. However, the co-founder said the decision to step down “was my decision and I own it.”
“I decided it’s finally time for me to leave,” Dorsey said in the staff email. “I’m really sad…yet really happy.”
He didn’t discuss what lies ahead for his career.
“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.”
Dorsey noted that the view that companies should continue to be led by their founders is “severely limiting.” But his departure also comes more than a year after activist investor Elliott Management Corp. reportedly sought to bring in new leadership.
Dorsey also serves as the top executive at Square, a financial payments company that he founded, prompting some big investors to question his effectiveness at leading both businesses.
Second time around
Dorsey’s departure spells the end of his second tenure as CEO at the social-media service. He served as chief executive between 2006 and 2008, and began his second stint leading the company in 2015.
His time as CEO was marked by several headline decisions, including permanently banning former President Donald Trump. Dorsey defended the move, saying Trump’s tweets after the January 6 Capitol riot resulted in a risk to public safety and created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance” for the company. Trump sued Twitter, along with Facebook and YouTube, alleging censorship; the lawsuit is ongoing.
Early in the pandemic, Dorsey also made the call to allow all Twitter employees to permanently work from home.
Dorsey is leaving behind a mixed legacy. Under his leadership, Twitter became “a platform that’s useful and potent for quick communication but one that’s been exploited by a range of bad actors including former President Donald Trump,” Paul Barrett, the deputy director of NYU’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told the Associated Press.
Twitter, which Dorsey, Evan Williams and Christopher “Biz” Stone co-founded in 2006, was initially a way for people to send updates to a small group using text messages. The first tweet sent by Dorsey on March 21, 2006, read “just setting up my twttr.”
The San Francisco company went through a period of robust growth during its early years, but as its expansion slowed, Twitter began tweaking its format in a bid to make it easier and more engaging to use.
Agrawal began his Twitter career as an engineer, then worked his way to the C-suite, becoming CTO in 2017. As the technology chief, Agrawal has played a role in “every critical decision that helped turn this company around,” Dorsey said.
Bret Taylor, a member of Twitter’s board since 2016, was also named chairman.
Shares of Twitter surged Monday after Dorsey’s departure was announced. Twitter’s stock, which has consistently underperformed the market, jumped more than 10% in early trading, but reversed itself by midday.
Twitter has more than 5,500 employees and a market cap of about $39 billion. In the past decade, Twitter has been one of the top used social media platforms across the globe, behind Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.