Social Media

Who is Parag Agrawal, Twitter's new CEO

Our Bureau | | | Updated on: Nov 30, 2021
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Parag Agrawal's naming as Twitter CEO added to the growing number of Indians leading global tech companies.

Parag Agrawal has been named the new Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, thus adding to the growing number of Indians leading global tech companies, including Google's Sunder Pichai, Microsoft's Satya Nadela, IBM's Aravind Krishna, Adobe's Shantanu Narayen and Palo Alto Network's Nikesh Arora.

What is Agrawal's India connect

Agrawal was born in India and studied at one of the Atomic Energy Central Schools. After school, he went to the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology at Bombay.

What did he do after graduating from IIT?

Agrawal did his doctorate in computer science from Stanford University between 2005 and 2012.

What do we know about his family ?

Parag’s wife Vineeta did her MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School. She is a General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where she leads investments for the firm’s bio fund across therapeutics, diagnostics, and digital health, focusing on companies that are leveraging unique datasets to improve drug development and patient care delivery. She serves on the board of BigHat Biosciences. His mother is a retired school teacher, and his father was a senior executive at the atomic energy establishment. Parag and Vineeta have a son, Ansh. 

What was he doing until now professionally?

Agrawal was the Chief Technology Officer at Twitter before being promoted to CEO. He started his career in Microsoft as a researcher in 2006 when he did a four-month stint. After that, he joined Yahoo as a researcher, where he worked for one year and four-month between June 2007 and September 2008. Then he moved back to Microsoft for another four-month stint as a researcher before moving to AT&T Labs. Here too, he worked for just four months. In 2011 Agrawal joined Twitter as a software engineer. He worked in this role for six years and then took over as the CTO in 2017.

Read also: IIT-Bombay graduate Parag Agrawal appointed new Twitter CEO

Was it expected that Agrawal would get the CEO job?

Many insiders say Agrawal was being groomed for the top job. Agrawal had risen to be Twitter's first Distinguished Engineer due to his work across revenue and consumer engineering, including his impact on the re-acceleration of audience growth in 2016 and 2017. As CTO, he was responsible for the company's technical strategy, leading work to improve development velocity while advancing the state of Machine Learning across the company. In December 2019, Agrawal was put in charge of Project Bluesky, an independent team of open source architects, engineers and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media that would help better control abusive and misleading information on its platform. In an email to employees, the outgoing CEO Jack Dorsey said that Agrawal has been his choice to lead the company “for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs.”

Why was Agrawal made CEO now?

Twitter's co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as the CEO of the microblogging site on Monday. Dorsey has been under pressure to step down for some time as he was blamed for not adding new features to the microblogging platform even as rival players were creating new market segments, including video. In 2020, Dorsey faced calls from Elliott Management Corp to step down, after the hedge fund argued that he was paying too little attention to Twitter while also running Square Inc. Dorsey did not explain why he was stepping down but he said, "I've decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders. My trust in Parag as Twitter's CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I'm deeply grateful for his skill, heart, and soul. It's his time to lead."

What does this mean for India?

Agrawal's elevation highlights the success Indian professionals have been able to achieve in the US. It adds to that brand India story. For Twitter in India, Agrawal as the global CEO could give it a desi angle, especially with the company’s scrutiny over the past year over hate speech and content moderation. Agrawal could help improve Twitter's engagement with the Indian policymakers.

Published on November 30, 2021

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