Today, 37-year-old Parag Agrawal is Twitter's CEO — the youngest among the S&P 500, edging out Mark Zuckerberg. But just 10 years ago he was an engineer at Twitter.
Agrawal, who was announced as CEO after Jack Dorsey's surprise resignation on Monday, joined Twitter as a software engineer only a decade ago, in 2011. And it took him just six years to reach the C-suite as CTO. Agrawal made a name for himself by advancing the use of AI and machine-learning technology at Twitter, which helped boost the company's audience growth.
"I joined this company 10 years ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees..." Agrawal, who now oversees a workforce of more than 5,500 employees, wrote in an email to his employees posted on Twitter on Monday. "I've walked in your shoes, I've seen the ups and downs, the challenges and obstacles, the wins and the mistakes."
Meanwhile, Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006, also called out Agrawal's amazing backstory, citing Agrawal as an example of the "ambition and potential" he's seen from the team at Twitter. "Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he's our CEO," Dorsey wrote in his own email to employees, which was also posted on the social media platform.
Agrawal thanked Dorsey, writing in his email that he is "honored and humbled" to be taking the reins as CEO.
"I'm grateful for your continued mentorship and your friendship," Agrawal wrote, addressing Dorsey. Twitter's new CEO also patted his predecessor on the back for "leading the company through really significant challenges," as Dorsey and Twitter have faced quite a bit of criticism in recent years over issues such as misinformation on social media.
Who is Agrawal?
Before arriving at Twitter, Agrawal worked as a researcher at a few different tech companies — AT&T Labs, Microsoft and Yahoo, according to his LinkedIn page — while completing his doctorate in computer science at Stanford University, which he finished in 2012. He also holds an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.
While he wasn't a household name before today, that's quickly changing. Agrawal's own Twitter following exploded after the announcement, jumping from around 24,000 followers earlier in the day, CNBC reported this afternoon, to more than 140,000 at the time of publication.
Agrawal's wife, Vineeta, is a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, where she leads the firm's biotechnology investment fund.
What has he done at Twitter?
Twitter's press release notes that Agrawal was the first-ever person at the company to hold the title of "Distinguished Software Engineer" before he became CTO. As an engineer, Agrawal started out working on the company's advertising team. In addition to integrating machine learning technology, Agrawal also improved the platform's algorithms to make more relevant tweets appear in users' timelines, CNBC previously reported.
His success as an engineer helped spur audience growth at Twitter, according to his bio, and made him a rising star at the company long before taking over for Dorsey.
Since becoming CTO, Agrawal has also worked closely with Dorsey on projects like Bluesky, a team at Twitter researching open and decentralized technical standards for social media platforms that would allow content posted on one social platform to work seamlessly on other social sites, CNBC's Salvador Rodriguez reported on Monday.
Twitter's board unanimously voted for Agrawal to takeover as CEO on Monday, while also appointing him to the company's board of directors. Dorsey, who will remain on Twitter's board until his term expires in 2022, tweeted a screenshot of an email he sent to Twitter employees in which he wrote that his trust in Agrawal "as our CEO is bone deep."
"He's been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs," Dorsey said of Agrawal in the email.
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