Parag Agrawal was named the CEO of Twitter on Monday after Jack Dorsey, who founded the social media platform nearly 16 years ago, stepped down. Agrawal, 37, has been associated with Twitter since 2011, before he ascended to the top rank.
Agrawal previously worked at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T in research roles. At Twitter, he’s worked on machine learning, revenue and consumer engineering and helping with audience growth. He studied at Stanford and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
He joined San Francisco-based Twitter in 2011, when it had just 1,000 employees, and has been its Chief Technology Officer since 2017. At the end of last year, the company had a workforce of 5,500.
But his prior lack of recognition coupled with a solid technical background appears to be what some big company backers were looking for to lead Twitter out of its current morass.
Agrawal, an immigrant from India, comes from outside the ranks of celebrity CEOs, which include the man he is replacing, Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla. Those brand-name company founders and leaders have often been in the news — and on Twitter — for exploits beyond the day-to-day running of their companies.
Multiple Indian-Americans already dominate Silicon Valley by holding top positions. These include Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella among others.
While Twitter has high-profile users like politicians and celebrities and is a favorite of journalists, its user base lags far behind old rivals like Facebook and YouTube and newer ones like TikTok. It has just over 200 million daily active users, a common industry metric.
As CEO, Agrawal may have to step beyond the technical details and deal with the social and political issues Twitter and social media are struggling with. These include misinformation, abuse and effects on mental health.
Meanwhile, Wall Street seemed to be rattled by Agarwal’s appointment as the CEO of Twitter as he has been the Chief Technology Officer at the microblogging platform for nearly four years, hinting that he may spearhead the company towards Metaverse.
(With AP inputs)