Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s new CEO, has a clear message: the social network will move far quicker than it has in the past.
Agrawal says his first aim is “enhancing our execution” and simplifying Twitter’s operations in his first public appearance since taking over from co-founder Jack Dorsey. After activist investor Elliott Management shook up Twitter’s board of directors last year and urged Dorsey to stand down from his part-time CEO role, he made his remarks at the Barclays technology conference. Dorsey is still the company’s CEO (formally called Square).
Despite just being the CEO of Twitter for nine days, Agrawal has already made significant changes in the company’s highest levels. Last Friday, he restructured the firm into three divisions: Consumer, Revenue, and Core Tech, each led by a general manager. “I feel we’ve put them up to be able to go quite quickly,” he adds presently. Two executives who previously reported to Dorsey, engineering lead Michael Montano and head of design and research Dantley Davis, intend to leave at the end of December as part of the transition.
“Previously, we were functioning in a functional structure where we had a single engineering organization, a single design research organization, and matrixed product teams,” Agrawal explains, hinting that the arrangement slowed the firm down. Lindsey Iannucci was named VP of Operations in addition to the three new general managers, Kayvon Beykpour, Bruce Falck, and Nick Caldwell. “She’ll help us strengthen our operational rigor in this new structure to actually bring us to faster decision making, clearer ownership, higher responsibility, and improved operations,” Agrawal says.
Throughout the nearly 30-minute discussion, his emphasis on speed was a recurring topic. He described how, in his prior capacity as chief technology officer, he concentrated on modernizing the company’s aging technical stack in order to release products quicker. He confessed that “delayed decision making” occurred as a result of “so much coordination that needs to happen” amongst teams in order to have improvements implemented. His remarks amounted to a blatant admission that Twitter has failed to meet investor expectations since going public, and that the firm has been sluggish to respond to changes in user behavior over time.
When questioned about Twitter’s recently announced acquisition of the messaging service Quill, Agrawal termed direct messages “a critical product bet,” which is a welcome attitude given how undeveloped DMs have been for a long time. He explained that “the opportunity surrounding DMs is extremely crucial,” and that “it’s a method you can communicate with anyone in the world and expect to hear back from them.”