Twitter has a brand new CEO: Parag Agrawal, who’ll be taking up for Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, the longest-serving chief govt within the firm’s 15-plus-year historical past.

Agrawal isn’t probably the most well-known of names both inside or outdoors of Twitter. He’s been with the corporate for over a decade, although, working his means up from an engineer to grow to be its prime govt (and an in depth buddy of Dorsey’s). Agrawal first began at Twitter again in October 2011 with a give attention to advert merchandise, and he turned the primary recipient of the corporate’s “Distinguished Engineer” title. He was later appointed chief expertise officer in October 2017, throughout which era he’s jumped in to deal with high-profile issues (like a large-scale password safety difficulty) and tackle a few of the firm’s bolder initiatives (like decentralization). However regardless of that lengthy tenure, Agrawal, who’s 37, hasn’t spent a lot time within the public eye — one thing that can instantly change along with his new function.

That stated, there are a number of cues from Agrawal’s historical past as CTO that would point out the place Twitter would possibly go subsequent beneath his management. Agrawal is the fourth individual to take the reins at Twitter, after Dorsey (who led the corporate from 2006 to 2008, and once more from 2015 till now), Evan Williams (who co-founded Twitter alongside Dorsey and served as CEO from 2008 to 2010), and Dick Costolo (Twitter’s former COO, who served as CEO from 2010 via 2015).

In his time as CTO, considered one of Agrawal’s largest tasks has been his overseeing of the corporate’s decentralized Bluesky platform, which was first introduced in December 2019. Supposed as an “open and decentralized standard for social media” that Twitter itself might ultimately transition to utilizing, Bluesky has been one of many extra dramatic concepts for Twitter’s future and a pet undertaking of Dorsey’s.

Bluesky has additionally been selecting up steam up to now few months after a protracted interval of radio silence: the group printed its assessment of present decentralized social media programs initially of the 12 months and at last put cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber accountable for Bluesky in August after months of looking for a product lead. Presumably, Bluesky’s growth — and its potential impression in changing the underpinnings of Twitter’s platform — is one thing that can proceed to be a serious undertaking for Agrawal as CEO.

Moreover, the newly based Twitter Crypto group led by Tess Rinearson that was introduced earlier in November additionally reported on to Agrawal (though it’s not clear if that can proceed to be the case following his promotion). That group can also be set to work intently with Bluesky, which — mixed with Agrawal’s curiosity in decentralized Web3 platforms — speaks to a attainable path for Twitter’s future.

That have with Bluesky might gel properly with one other of Agrawal’s largest tasks as Twitter’s chief expertise officer: the years-long effort to attempt to transfer a few of Twitter’s merchandise off its personal servers to extra strong cloud providers from firms like Amazon and Google.

Agrawal spearheaded the trouble to advance Twitter’s inner expertise again in 2018 in an effort to attempt to assist velocity up the tempo of characteristic growth and deployment, as famous in an interview with The Information earlier this 12 months. “When we hear people say that Twitter is slow at shipping, that hurts, and that is something we use as motivation,” Agrawal stated.

That’s led to modifications like Twitter’s partnership with Google Cloud for processing information in Could 2018 and the continuing effort to slowly change over the Twitter timeline characteristic itself to Amazon Internet Providers (which is anticipated to be full in 2023). “I do think people are starting to recognize now externally that we are going faster. And it feels good because it’s like a bunch of work from the past starting to pay off,” Agrawal famous within the interview. “But we’re nowhere close to done. I think we have a lot of opportunity to go even faster and [in] even more noticeable ways in the coming years.”

Different Agrawal tasks had been extra reactionary fixes to present Twitter issues, albeit important ones: in his time as CTO, Agrawal was a part of the effort final 12 months to deal with Twitter’s problematic racial cropping points with picture previews, along with handling the public explanation for the corporate’s 2018 password bug.

Agrawal has additionally hinted at how he’ll deal with considered one of Twitter’s largest challenges: moderation. In a 2020 interview with MIT Technology Review, Agrawal stated that Twitter’s function is to construct a wholesome place for conversing on-line, suggesting that would come on the expense of permitting folks to say no matter they need. “Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation,” he stated.

That doesn’t imply moderating all misinformation, although. Agrawal views Twitter’s aim as avoiding the “specific harm that misleading information can cause” somewhat than “trying to be an arbiter of what is true or false on the internet.” That’s as a result of, as Agrawal places it, “defining misinformation is really, really hard.”

That stance could proceed to result in points with Republican politicians, lots of whom are already against Twitter’s moderation insurance policies and ban of former President Donald Trump. The House Judiciary GOP Twitter account already referred to Twitter’s new CEO as “much worse” than Dorsey after latching onto an out-of-context tweet from Agrawal from 2010 (earlier than he was employed at Twitter) quoting a comedic section from The Each day Present with Jon Stewart’s Aasif Mandvi about stereotypes. Repeated stories have proven that social media platforms like Twitter don’t have any empirical proof of bias in opposition to conservative content material, and a current research from Twitter itself discovered that the platform’s algorithms really favored right-wing views.

It’s considered one of many hurdles Agrawal should overcome. Whereas he inherits an organization that has been rising its every day person figures and rolling out merchandise at a speedier-than-ever clip, Twitter nonetheless faces ongoing points with person progress at dwelling, advert merchandise stymied by current privateness modifications, and faster-growing social networks like Snapchat. Agrawal is probably not probably the most publicly recognizable candidate for working Twitter, however his years of expertise with the corporate, deep expertise with Twitter’s product, and previous work in serving to modernize Twitter’s tech stack makes him an fascinating alternative for CEO, particularly as decentralized blockchain expertise turns into extra outstanding.


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