Twitter's New CEO Parag Agrawal's Ladder of Success
From graduating from IIT Bombay to evolving into one of the youngest big-tech CEOs in the world, little did even Twitterati see it coming – Parag Agrawal succeeding Jack Dorsey, the now stepped-down Co-founder and CEO of the microblogging site. The development has sparked international interest, and Agrawal's ascension has expanded the dominion of Indian technocrats in the Silicon Valley.
Agrawal has a decade of experience at Twitter, where he most recently served as the company's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) since 2017. Despite rumors about the changeover, Agrawal's promotion was unexpected, and he was at the top of the deck when Dorsey opted to hand over the reins.
With the promotion, Parag Agrawal, 37, has joined the ranks of American executive Mark Zuckerberg as one of the world's youngest big-tech CEOs.
Life before Twitter
Parag Agrawal was born in Mumbai. His father worked for the Indian Department of Atomic Energy as a top level officer, and his mother is a retired schoolteacher. Agrawal attended Atomic Energy Central School, where he was a classmate of famed Indian singer Shreya Ghoshal. Agrawal traveled to the US after graduating from IIT Bombay in 2005 to pursue his higher studies in computer science at Stanford University.
He built his global experience, working with Microsoft, AT&T, and Yahoo and his work was largely research-oriented in all three companies.
Life at Twitter
Initially, he worked on ad-related products at Twitter, but he eventually moved on to artificial intelligence. The microblogging giant is believed to know Agrawal for his capacity as CTO, who has been focused on building cohesive machine learning and AI strategy across the consumer and revenue product and infrastructure teams.
Back in 2006 itself Dorsey had already added Agrawal in his good books. "My trust in [Agrawal] as our CEO is bone-deep," Jack wrote in a publicly posted memo to Twitter employees. Parag was defined as a curious, probing, reasonable, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble individual in the same document.
There is no limit to what we can do together, tweeted Parag
Parag has played a crucial role at Twitter as CTO, supervising its technical strategy as well as machine learning and AI across the consumer, revenue, and science departments.
In December 2019, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that Agrawal would lead Project Bluesky, an independent group of open source architects, engineers, and designers tasked with developing an open and decentralized social media standard to better control abusive and misleading information on the platform. Agrawal has long been regarded as one of Twitter's finest engineers.
Agrawal’s Stance on Addressing Twitter’s Major Challenges on Content Moderation
Some Twitter users pointed out in September of last year that the platform's photo previews favored white faces over black faces. They shared photos that showed a black and white person's faces next to each other. The white faces appeared more frequently in Twitter's photo preview.
The neural network the corporation employed to produce photo previews was accused of having racial prejudice.
Twitter's new CEO, Agrawal, who was also the company's CTO at the time, had assessed the issue and admitted that the model needed constant development.
Agrawal was also responsible for dealing with one of the company's most current challenges: content control. Some of former US President Donald Trump's tweets were labeled misleading and violent by Twitter around this time last year.
Twitter focused on reducing the harm that occurred from specific content being magnified on the site without sufficient context, according to Agrawal in an interview with MIT Technology Review in November last year. On the internet, it worked less well as an adjudicator of truth.
Agrawal had made it clear saying, “We put a lot of emphasis on the potential for harm as a result of particular content being amplified on the network without context." And context is frequently just more discourse that provides a different point of view on an issue so that people can see the breadth of the debate on our platform and outside and make their own decisions in a world where we're all learning together”.
The Road Ahead
Dorsey's resignation from Twitter will not be immediate, and he will remain on the board of directors until his tenure ends in 2022. It was his second time leaving Twitter. In 2009, he quit the microblogging site and founded the digital payments startup 'Square' and he has always been a bitcoin enthusiast, but came back to Twitter in 2015.
Dorsey will devote all of his time and skills to his successful digital startup Square now that he has passed Twitter’s torch to Parag Agrawal.
"Starting today, Parag is the CEO. I'll stay on the board for the duration of my term to assist Parag and Bret with the transition. After that, I'm going to leave the board. Why don't you stay or take over as chair? It's critical, in my opinion, to allow Parag the room he needs to lead. To return to my prior argument, I believe it is vital for a firm to be able to stand on its own, without the influence or direction of its creator ", stated Dorsey.
Parag also took to Twitter to thank Jack and 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. But then and now, above all else, I see Twitter’s incredible impact, our continued progress, and the exciting opportunities ahead of us… Our purpose has never been more important. Our people and our culture are unlike anything in the world. There is no limit to what we can do together".