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Parag Agrawal, latest Indian to conquer global IT giant ‘Twitter’

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Indian-origin techies, many of whom have graduated from the premier and highly coveted tech institutions in the country like the Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), are now heading major technology companies globally. The news of Parag Agrawal being appointed as the CEO of Twitter has taken the internet by storm both internationally and domestically. Let us take a look at who he is and his journey to this position.

Who is Parag Agrawal?

Parag Agrawal is an Indian-American technology executive and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Twitter since November 2021. He joined Twitter as a software engineer in 2011 working his way to becoming the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2017. Jack Dorsey announced that he was resigning as CEO of Twitter on 29th November 2021 and that Parag Agrawal will be his successor, coming into effect immediately.

Parag Agrawal- Early Life

Born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India; Parag later shifted to Mumbai. His father was a senior official in the Indian Department of Atomic Energy and his mother is a retired school teacher. He did his schooling at Atomic Energy Central School No.4. It’s interesting to know that Parag won a gold medal at the 2001 International Physics Olympiad held in Turkey. He earned an impressive 77th rank in the Joint Entrance Exam in 2000, qualifying Agrawal to obtain his B.Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2005. Parag Agrawal later moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University.

Parag Agrawal- Career

Parag worked at Microsoft, AT&T, and Yahoo where he held leadership positions. This was before the Stanford Ph.D. holder joined Twitter as an engineer primarily focusing on the company’s ad products in October 2011. He gradually worked his way up from there, receiving the initiatory title of ‘Distinguished Engineer’ at the company. Agrawal was named as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Twitter six years later in October 2017 after the departure of Adam Massiger. During this time, he mainly focused on dealing with the larger issue that Twitter was facing which ranged from a large-scale password security issue to the row over racism with regards to a picture-cropping algorithm that was presumably biased.

At Twitter, he has worked on revenue models, machine learning, and consumer engineering as well as helping with audience growth but always from afar. The 37-year-old has never been in public visibility, though. This, however, will change immediately as he assumes the role of CEO. As the chief technical officer, Agrawal’s biggest project has presumably been overseeing Bluesky, a decentralized platform which was announced in December 2019. Bluesky was initially a pet project of Jack Dorsey, is now likely to be Twitter’s first attempt to access the metaverse, and intends to be an “open and decentralized standard for social media”. Twitter’s newly founded crypto team was reporting directly to Agrawal according to reports.

The new CEO of Twitter now has even more things to take care of. He has to look beyond the technicalities. He now has to deal with the local and political issues that Twitter along with other social media platforms are struggling with. The platform already lags far behind its rival companies like Facebook and YouTube. Twitter has just over 200 million daily active users according to Parag, which is a common industry metric.

Parag has promised to display to the world twitter’s full potential. In a reply to Dorsey’s resignation email where he named Agrawal the CEO, the latter wrote, “The world is watching us right now, even more than they have before. Lots of people are going to have lots of different views and opinions about today’s news. It is because they care about Twitter and the future, and it’s a signal that the work we do here matters. Let’s show the world Twitter’s full potential.” Along with Sundar Pichai of Alphabet, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe, and Arvind Krishna of IBM, Parag Agrawal has now joined a host of Indian-origin CEOs of large tech companies of the Silicon Valley.

Twitter’s shares, which were seeing a consistent dip over the past few days, rose by up to 10 percent at the news of Jack Dorsey stepping down as its CEO.

What made Jack Dorsey appoint Parag as the next CEO of Twitter?

According to Jack, a company being “founder-led” ultimately leads to several limitations and can be a single point of failure. He wants to ensure that the company can break away from its founding and founders. Dorsey and the board of directors unanimously appointed Parag as the CEO. This is because he believes Agrawal understands the company’s needs deeply. He has been behind every critical decision that has turned the company around. Jack tweeted about Parag saying, “He is curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone-deep”.

This is yet another proud moment for India

From Parag Agrawal to Sundar Pichai, 8 Indian-origin CEOs lead tech giants in the US. It is undoubtedly another proud moment for India. It goes on to show the leadership capabilities and talents that the country holds in full display for the world to see. Let us have a brief look at these CEOs.

Parag Agrawal

– Now you have an in-depth idea about who he is.

Sundar Pichai

– Pichai Sundararajan, better known as Sundar Pichai, is an Indian-American business executive. He is the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google.

Satya Nadella

– He is an Indian-born American business executive. Nadella is the executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft, succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014 as CEO and John W. Thompson in 2021 as chairman.

Arvind Krishna

– He’s an Indian-American business executive serving as the Chairman and CEO of IBM. He has been the CEO of IBM since April 2020 and took on the role of Chairman in January 2021.

Shantanu Narayen

– He’s an Indian American business executive. He has been the chairman, president, and Chief Executive Officer of Adobe Inc. since December 2007. Before this, he was the company’s president and Chief Operating Officer since 2005.

Nikesh Arora

– He is an Indian-American business executive. He is the chief executive officer and chairman of Palo Alto Networks. Arora was formerly a senior executive at Google. He served as the president of SoftBank Group from October 2014 to June 2016.

Jayshree Ullal

– She is an American billionaire businesswoman, president, and CEO of Arista Networks. It is a cloud networking company responsible for the deployment of 10/25/40/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet networking in the data center.

Anjali Sud

– She is an American businesswoman of Indian descent and the CEO of Vimeo, the online video platform. Sud was appointed to the position in July 2017, after previously serving as General Manager and Head of Marketing.

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