Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped down from his executive role at the social media company.
Dorsey will be replaced by chief technology officer (CTO) Parag Agrawal, the company announced on Monday.
The surprise move ends Dorsey’s much criticized tenure as chief executive officer of both Twitter and Square, his digital payments company, which led to Twitter stakeholders Elliott Management and billionaire investor Paul Singer calling on him to step down from one of those roles.
Twitter’s shares rose 11% after the news broke on CNBC before being briefly suspended.
The company said Dorsey would step down immediately but that Dorsey would remain on the board until Twitter’s stockholder meeting in 2022.
“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders. My trust in Parag as Twitter’s CEO is deep. His work over the past 10 years has been transformational. I’m deeply grateful for his skill, heart and soul. It’s his time to lead,” said Dorsey.
Agrawal has been with Twitter for a decade and served as CTO since 2017.
“I want to thank the board for their confidence in my leadership and Jack for his continued mentorship, support, and partnership,” said Agrawal.
In his most recent tweet on the site, posted Sunday, Dorsey wrote: “I love Twitter.”
In an email to staff on Monday Dorsey wrote that after 16 years at the company, it was time to leave. “There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being ‘founder-led’. Ultimately I believe that’s severely limiting and a single point of failure," scrisse. “I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders.”
Dorsey said Agrawal was his preferred choice for CEO. “My trust in him as CEO is bone-deep," scrisse. “I want you all to know this was my decision and I own it.”
Dorsey, 45, co-founded the microblogging site in 2006 and posted the world’s first tweet: “Just setting up my twttr.”
He founded Square in 2009 after being pushed out of the top job at Twitter before returning as chief executive of the social media company in 2015.
Investors and some staff have questioned Dorsey’s management style and have worried that he is stretched too thin by his roles at both companies. Nel 2019 he announced plans to relocate to Africa for six months, a move that worried both staff and investors. He scrapped the plan after the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Dorsey also set off a political firestorm following Twitter’s decision to ban former president Donald Trump from the platform. He later ha difeso la mossa as the “right decision” but said it also highlighted “a failure of ours, ultimately, to promote healthy conversation.”
His stakes in Twitter and Square have helped Dorsey amass a personal fortune of over $12bn, according to Forbes. In April Dorsey announced he was giving $1bn to relief programs related to the coronavirus, “girls’ health and education”, and the study of universal basic income (UBI) – financial payments to people.