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Meet Twitter's new CEO: a 37-year-old machine learning and AI expert
PUBLISHED ON 2021-11-30 08:18:00 EST Kathi
--Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder, announced Monday he would step down as CEO of the social media site.
--Dorsey chose former CTO and Indian-American engineer Parag Agrawal as his replacement.
--Agrawal, 37, worked on machine learning and AI as the firm's CTO.
--Parag Agrawal is Twitter's new CEO.
Agrawal has been Twitter's technology chief since 2017, but joined Twitter in 2011 as an engineer specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In an announcement to staff on Monday morning, Agrawal said his priorities as CEO include improving working conditions and helping Twitter actualize its "ambitious goals."
Agrawal has taken over during a promising period for Twitter, a company that has struggled in the past to grow users and make a profit.
In a July call with investors, Twitter reported increasing yearly revenue 74% to $1.19 billion and monetizable daily active users by 11% to 206 million.
The company also recently released Twitter Blue, a long-awaited $3 subscription service that, among other features, lets users undo tweets.
"I recognize that some of you know me well, some just a little, and some not at all," Agrawal told employees. "Let's consider ourselves at the beginning — the first step towards our future."
Agrawal advanced machine learning during his tenure as CTO
As chief of technology, Agrawal oversaw Twitter's technical strategy and improving development velocity, according to a release.
Agrawal has worked on addressing algorithmic bias during his time as CTO.
For instance, Agrawal changed Twitter's image cropping algorithm to rely less on machine learning after users noticed the images on the site cropped out Black people and centered white faces instead.
"Bias in [machine learning] systems is an industry-wide issue, and one we're committed to improving on Twitter," Agrawal wrote in an October 2020 blog post. "We're aware of our responsibility, and want to work towards making it easier for everyone to understand how our systems work."
Agrawal also led Twitter's ambitious Blue Sky initiative, which is funding engineers to develop a decentralized social media landscape. The decentralized platform would move moderation responsibilities from Twitter engineers and managers to the broader user-base on Blue Sky, TechCrunch reported.
Parag received Twitter's first Distinguished Engineer title by helping grow the platform's audience through revenue and consumer engineering.
Agrawal has fostered strong relationships with other tech leaders
Agrawal has a prior relationship with former AWS lead Andy Jassy, who spent 15 years growing AWS to a $40 billion business before he replaced Jeff Bezos as Amazon's CEO earlier this year.
Twitter announced in 2020 a plan to deliver timelines using Amazon Web Services. The decision marked the first time Twitter used a public cloud to deliver real-time service, according to ZDNet.
"Really excited about working w/ @paraga & the whole @Twitter team to help power the real-time, global traffic of this vibrant platform w/ @AWScloud services & #infrastructure," Jassy said in a tweet.
Agrawal's wife is a venture capitalist and a physician
Agrawal's spouse, Vineeta, is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz leading investments in biology companies, including therapeutics, diagnostics, and digital health, according to her bio.
The VC is also board certified in internal medicine and has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a medical degree from Harvard, and a doctorate from MIT.
The two are raising a three-year-old son.
Agrawal joins a growing list of Indian-American immigrants running the country's largest tech firms.
Twitter's new exec joins Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai in diversifying Big Tech's top brass.
Per his LinkedIn, Agrawal attended Atomic Energy Central School in India's Maharashtra state. Agrawal received his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, and his doctorate degree in computer science from Stanford University.
Agrawal will also be among the youngest CEOs to lead major tech firms at 37-years-old, the same age as Mark Zuckerberg.
"Wishing you the very best ahead @jack, and congrats @paraga and @btaylor - excited for Twitter's future!" Pichai wrote in a tweet on Monday afternoon