Finance Finance News ‘Single point of failure’: Twitter to break away from founder Jack Dorsey
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‘Single point of failure’: Twitter to break away from founder Jack Dorsey

Twitter
Jack Dorsey says Twitter will change course under a new CEO. Photo: AAP
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Twitter will “break away” from founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and move towards a new vision for the platform under new boss Parag Agrawal.

Mr Dorsey unveiled plans to step back from the California-based firm on Tuesday and said the company would “change course” without its founder.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Mr Dorsey said the idea of founder-led businesses was “severely limiting” and creates a “single point of failure”.

The move signals a new chapter for the social media platform, with the new leadership team poised to focus on efforts to allow users to make decisions about the content allowed on Twitter and how it works.

“There aren’t many companies that get to this level,” Mr Dorsey said.

“And there aren’t many founders that choose the company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.”

Mr Dorsey will also step down from Twitter’s board in May.

Bret Taylor has been appointed as the next chair of the tech company’s board.

Mr Dorsey leaves a lasting legacy as Twitter’s founder, having started the platform as a university student at New York University in 2006 before turning it into one of the largest social media companies in the world.

More recently, he led efforts to de-platform former US President Donald Trump following the US Capitol insurrection last January, branding it a “failure” of Twitter to “promote healthy conversations”.

At the same time, Mr Dorsey has also emerged as a controversial figure due to the often-damaging effects of social media on modern society.

He has previously conceded that Twitter can be toxic to public conversations and has lamented mistakes in Twitter’s design that enabled extremism and misinformation, including a focus on follower counts and likes.

Twitter has since invested heavily in moderating content and tackling a wave of bot networks designed to peddle misinformation.

But the business is still subject to intense regulatory scrutiny, including in Australia, where the Morrison government is planning to introduce laws to expose anonymous trolls on social media.

Engineer-turned-CEO

These challenges will fall on the shoulders of Mr Agrawal, who joined Twitter in 2011 as an engineer and went on to become the platform’s chief technology officer.

Mr Agrawal, 37, studied computer science and engineering at the University of Bombay in India before completing his PhD at Stanford University.

He is little known to the public, but a close confidant of Mr Dorsey’s who said on Tuesday that his trust in Mr Agrawal was “bone deep”.

Mr Agrawal was tapped to oversee Mr Dorsey’s vision for Twitter’s future – a decentralisation project he hopes will remove platforms as gatekeepers of content and allow users to make decisions about content moderation.

Mr Dorsey compared the model to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, suggesting internet technology should not be controlled by one entity.

The project, called Bluesky, is still in development.

But it has been touted as Twitter’s future by Mr Dorsey and Mr Agrawal amid intense public debate about the incendiary role social media platforms play in society.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Agrawal said the “world is watching” the company and that its purpose has “never been more important”.

His immediate priority will be the company’s latest corporate goals: To secure 315 million monetisable daily active users by the end of 2023 and at least double the company’s annual revenue.

“We recently updated our strategy to hit ambitious goals,” Mr Agrawal said in an email to Twitter staff that he subsequently posted to Twitter.

“Our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results.”

Mr Agrawal’s colleagues congratulated the appointment on Twitter.

“Parag was one of the first engineers I worked with when I started at Twitter (when we were first working on timeline ranking),” Twitter’s head of site integrity Yoel Roth tweeted.

“The rigour he brings to every decision was clear then, and I’m delighted to see it recognised today.”

Mr Agrawal will earn an annual salary of $US1 million ($1.4 million) and is eligible for stock-based bonuses worth $US12.5 million ($17 million).