Newly named Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal has emerged from behind the scenes to handle one of Silicon Valley’s highest-profile and politically unstable jobs.
But their prior lack of name recognition, coupled with a solid technical background, appears to be what some big company supporters were looking to lift Twitter out of its current quagmire.
A 37-year-old immigrant from India, Agarwal comes out of the ranks of celebrity CEOs that includes the man he is replacing, Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or SpaceX and Tesla’s Elon Musk. 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.
After serving as Twitter’s chief technology officer for the past four years, Agarwal’s appointment was seen by Wall Street as the choice of someone who broadly saw Twitter as the next era of the Internet – the metaverse. Will focus on leaving.
Agarwal is a “‘safe’ pick that should be viewed favorably by investors,” wrote CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino, who noted that Twitter shareholder Elliott Management Corp had pressured Dorsey to step down.
Elliott issued a statement on Monday, saying that Agarwal and new board chairman Brett Taylor were “the right leaders for Twitter at this critical moment for the company.” Taylor is the president and chief operating officer of business software company Salesforce.
Agarwal joins a growing cadre of Indian American CEOs from big tech companies, including Sundar Pichai of Google parent Alphabet, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Arvind Krishna of IBM.
He joined San Francisco-based Twitter in 2011, when it had just 1,000 employees, and has been its chief technical officer since 2017. At the end of last year, the company had a workforce of 5,500.
Agarwal previously worked in research roles at Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T. At Twitter, he has worked on machine learning, revenue and consumer engineering and helped drive audience growth. He studied at Stanford and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
While Twitter has high-profile users like politicians and celebrities and is a favorite of journalists, its user base lags far behind older rivals like Facebook and YouTube, and newer ones like TikTok. It has just over 200 million daily active users, which is a common industry metric.
As CEO, Agarwal will have to step beyond technical details and tackle the social and political issues Twitter and social media are struggling with. These include misinformation, abuse, and effects on mental health.
Agarwal found a rapid introduction to life as the CEO of a high-profile company, one of the central platforms for online political speech. Conservatives quickly traced back to a tweet he sent in 2010 that read, “If they’re not going to differentiate between Muslims and extremists, why should I differentiate between white people and racists.”
As some Twitter users pointed out, the 11-year-old’s tweet was quoting a segment on “The Daily Show” that was referencing the firing of Juan Williams, who spoke about being nervous about Muslims on an airplane. made a comment.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the tweet.