Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped down as CEO and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal, a 37-year-old immigrant from India who joined the company as an engineer and rose to the position of chief technology officer before stepping into the limelight as the company’s frontman.
On Monday, Jack Tweeted his resignation letter addressed to the company’s staff. The memo expressed confidence in Parag Agrawal’s leadership acumen to take the company to greater heights.
“The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs,” he wrote.
“Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around.
“He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone-deep.”
Who is Parag Agrawal?
Parag was born and raised in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He’s a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. After his undergraduate studies, he proceeded to Stanford University, where he earned a Ph. D in computer science.
Parag Agrawal joined Twitter in 2011 as a software engineer. The company’s staff strength was less than 1000 employees at the time. In October 2017, he was promoted to the position of chief technology officer.
“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,” the new CEO wrote in his message to Twitter employees on his appointment.
“But then and now, above all else, I see Twitter’s incredible impact, our continued progress, and the exciting opportunities ahead of us.” Prior to joining Twitter, Parag had worked at Microsoft Research and Yahoo! Research, where he held leadership positions.
Deep gratitude for @jack and our entire team, and so much excitement for the future. Here’s the note I sent to the company. Thank you all for your trust and support 💙 https://t.co/eNatG1dqH6 pic.twitter.com/liJmTbpYs1
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) November 29, 2021
Brain behind machine learning advancement
Parag spearheaded Twitter’s technical strategy, deploying advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning across the company. He led several outstanding projects, including making tweets in a person’s timeline more relevant to them or identifying potentially “bad” tweets that violate Twitter’s terms of service.
Controversy over 2010 tweet
Barely 24 hours after his appointment as Twitter CEO, a tweet by Parag in 2010 is causing quite a stir on the platform, with many accusing him of being racist while others think he’s sloppy not have deleted such tweet.
The tweet reads, “If they are not going to differentiate between Muslims and extremists, why should I differentiate between white people and racists.”
Although Parag had explained that the tweet was a quote from Asif Mandvi of “The Daily Show,” Twitter users went wild regardless, calling him out for supposedly promoting stereotypes.
Parag is married to Vineeta Agrawal, a general partner at a venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz. She leads “investments in biology companies, including therapeutics, diagnostics, and digital health.”
Vineeta and Parag have one son together.