Indian American Parag Agrawal takes over Twitter

IIT Bombay alumnus’ work at Twitter has been transformational, says outgoing founder CEO Jack Dorsey

Google, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM and now Twitter. Yet another Indian American executive has taken over a US tech giant with IIT Bombay alumnus Parag Agrawal taking the helm of microblogging site Twitter.

Agrawal who became Twitter’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2017, six years after he joined the company in 2011, was elevated to the top job Monday after founder CEO Jack Dorsey decided to step down. He will also serve as a member of the Board.

Agrawal joins a select group of Indian American CEOs heading US technology companies. They include Sundar Pichai, who heads Google and its parent company Alphabet, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, IBM’s Arvind Krishna, and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen.

Read: Meet the top seven Indian American CEOs (June 2, 2019)

“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” said Dorsey, who will remain a member of the Board until his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders.

“My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It’s his time to lead,” he said in a press statement.

As CTO, Agrawal has been responsible for the company’s technical strategy, leading work to improve development velocity while advancing the state of Machine Learning across the company, the statement noted.

Prior to being appointed CTO, Agrawal had risen to be Twitter’s first ‘Distinguished Engineer’ due to his work across revenue and consumer engineering, including his impact on the re-acceleration of audience growth in 2016 and 2017.

Agrawal holds a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. While studying at Stanford, Agarwal worked as a research intern for Microsoft, Yahoo!, and AT&T Labs.

Agarwal’s remarkable journey started from a Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) under the Atomic Energy Education Society (AEES), set up for education to children of the employees of the Department of Atomic Energy and its constituent units.

Bret Taylor, Twitter’s incoming Independent Board Chair said, “Parag understands Twitter and appreciates the company’s unique potential. He has been instrumental in tackling our most important priorities, including accelerating our development velocity, and I know he’ll hit the ground running to strengthen execution and deliver results. The Board has the utmost confidence in Parag.”

“I want to thank the Board for their confidence in my leadership and Jack for his continued mentorship, support, and partnership,” said Agrawal. “I look forward to building on everything we have accomplished under Jack’s leadership and I am incredibly energized by the opportunities ahead.

“By continuing to improve our execution, we will deliver tremendous value for our customers and shareholders as we reshape the future of public conversation.”

“Deep gratitude for @jack and our entire team, and so much excitement for the future,” Agarwal said in a quote-tweet of Dorsey, with a short acceptance note attached, a #oneteam tag and a heart emoji in blue.

According to an report, in his note to employees ahead of the Nov. 29 all-hands meeting, Agrawal said, “I joined this company 10 years ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees. While it was a decade ago, those days feel like yesterday to me.”

“I’ve walked in your shoes, I’ve seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes,” he said. “But then and now, above all else, I see Twitter’s incredible impact, our continued progress, and the exciting opportunities ahead of us.

Soon after Agrawal became Twitter CEO, Tesla, and SpaceX founder Elon Musk took to the microblogging site saying “USA benefits greatly from Indian talent!”

He was reverting to a tweet by Stripe CEO Patrick Collison, who earlier noted, “Google, Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Palo Alto Networks and now Twitter run by CEOs who grew up in India.”

“Wonderful to watch the amazing success of Indians in the technology world and a good reminder of the opportunity America offers to immigrants. (Congrats, Parag Agrawal),” Collison wrote.

Agrawal comes in as CEO as Twitter has set high new goals for user and revenue growth — 315 million daily active users by the end of 2023 and doubling of annual revenue — and rolled out a series of new products.

Read: Between becoming Twitter’s CEO and gaining 10x more followers overnight, the craze around Parag Agrawal has taken some funny turns
(November 30, 2021)

Dorsey had faced several distractions as CEO with some big investors openly questioning how he could effectively lead both Twitter and the payments company Square, of which too he was founder and CEO.

Dorsey became Twitter CEO in 2007, but was forced out the following year. He returned to the role in 2015. In a letter to employees, Dorsey said he will serve out his term on the board of directors until “May-ish” when he will also leave that position.

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