37-year-old Parag Agrawal has taken over as Twitter CEO, after co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down from the post.
Parag Agrawal has been a part of Twitter since 2011 and has been an integral force behind many of the company’s major decisions. A long-time confidant of Jack Dorsey, Agarwal was elevated to the position of chief technical officer in 2017. So with Dorsey stepping down as chief, Agarwal was a natural and obvious choice, with the former CEO saying that the board had run a “rigorous” search and had “unanimously” endorsed the 37-year-old.
“He (Agrawal) has been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around,” Dorsey said.
With this new appointment, Agrawal joins the list of global tech CEOs from India like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and IBM’s Arvind Krishna.
Born in Mumbai, Agrawal studied computer science and engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology. He then moved to the United States and pursued a doctorate in computer science at Stanford.
He joined Twitter in 2011 before completing his Ph.D. and became a key member of the engineering team that oversaw the company’s advertising technologies. His vast knowledge and involvement with databases earned him a spot in the company. He led processes that relied on artificial intelligence and machine learning, handling projects to make tweets in users’ timelines more relevant to them. Using machine learning, Agrawal and his team devised methods to send target ads to particular users, subsequently raising Twitter’s revenues and his profile.
Once CTO, the IIT alumnus did an overhaul of Twitter’s technical infrastructure which was plagued with engineering problems resulting in output and result delays. He further streamlined the operations by moving to cloud computing services from Google and Amazon.
He also made his way into Twitter Architecture Group (T.A.G.), a team of top engineers who handled the company’s many projects that were in the pipeline.
More recently, in 2019, Twitter organized an independent research initiative to create a decentralized social media protocol. This would allow users to make their own moderation decisions and apply their algorithms to promote content. The present CEO was called in to oversee this project that was titled Bluesky. He has also been instrumental in driving Twitter’s effort to enable the use of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin on the platform.
As CEO, Agrawal will receive an annual salary of $1 million, plus bonuses, as well as restricted stock units and performance-based stock units valued at $12.5 million, as per the company’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Photo credit: @paraga