Who is Parag Agrawal, former Twitter CEO fired by Elon Musk?

The Indian lasted just under a year in the job and has been removed by the new owner, according to reports

Parag Agrawal was chief executive of Twitter until Elon Musk bought the company. AP
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Parag Agrawal is out and Elon Musk is in at Twitter.

It's a move that has been on the cards since April, when Mr Musk offered to buy the social media platform in a $44 billion deal that was finally completed on Friday.

Following the completion of the deal, Twitter chief executive Mr Agrawal and chief financial officer Ned Segal left the company and will not be returning, CNBC reported, citing sources.

Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust and safety, was reportedly fired, The Washington Post reported.

In response, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone tweeted: “Thank you to @paraga, @vijaya, and @nedsegal for the collective contribution to Twitter. Massive talents, all, and beautiful humans each!”

When did Mr Agrawal become Twitter's chief executive?

This happened in November 2021, when Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey unexpectedly stepped down after six years of leading the company.

In a letter to employees, Mr Dorsey announced that Mr Agrawal, who was chief technology officer at the time, would become the social media company's newest leader, saying that he had been “my first choice for some time now”.

Born in India, Mr Agrawal had been with Twitter for more than a decade and had served as chief technology officer since 2017, with his biography on the company's leadership page saying he was responsible for Twitter's technical strategy.

Mr Agrawal received a doctorate from Stanford University in 2012 and an undergraduate computer science degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was named Twitter's first “Distinguished Engineer” and is credited with accelerating the company's audience growth from 2016-2017.

Mr Agrawal “has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around”, Mr Dorsey said when naming him as the next chief executive.

He immediately praised the social media platform's “bold and right” strategy in a public letter to company employees.

“But our critical challenge is how we work to execute against it and deliver results — that's how we'll make Twitter the best it can be for our customers, shareholders and for each of you,” he said.

At the time, incoming independent board chairman Brett Taylor expressed confidence in Mr Agrawal's ability to accomplish the company's objectives.

Mr Agrawal “understands Twitter and appreciates the company's unique potential”, Mr Taylor said in a statement. “The board has the utmost confidence in Parag.”

What about his interactions with Mr Musk after the offer to buy Twitter?

It all started very cordially. Mr Agrawal said he was “excited” to welcome Mr Musk to Twitter as a board member on April 5. Six days later, he confirmed Mr Musk would no longer be joining the board and it was “for the best”.

Mr Agrawal then tweeted on April 28, saying that he “took this job to change Twitter for the better, course correct where we need to, and strengthen the service. Proud of our people who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise”. The noise being Mr Musk's deal to buy Twitter.

On May 13, he referred to himself as a “lame-duck CEO”. The relationship between the two men became frostier a short time later, when Mr Musk publicly aired his concerns about the number of spam accounts on Twitter — a reason he later gave for pulling out of the deal before eventually going through with it.

Mr Agrawal hit back on Twitter, saying “Let’s talk about spam. And let’s do so with the benefit of data, facts, and context …”

“We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter,” he added among a thread of 15 tweets.

“We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam — if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).”

Since then, he has been quiet on his personal Twitter account. He retweeted Mr Taylor's tweet on July 13 confirming Twitter had filed a lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery “to hold Elon Musk accountable to his contractual obligations”.

Reuters contributed to this report

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Updated: October 28, 2022, 12:11 PM
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