The parting of big corporate leaders is nothing new. In fact, it is a nearly daily occurrence as companies struggle to remain competitive, profitable and attractive to investors looking for consistently upwardly mobile organizations. Many of the departures fail to produce even the mildest of notice from anyone other than stockholders and financial analysts whose job it is to pass judgement on the future viability of a company. One exception to the “ho hum, so what” rule is when a successful founder of a popular mega brand announces they are leaving the company they lovingly and successfully founded and nurtured, often in the face of countless naysayers along the way. Add to the mix nearly 300 million daily users of a social media company, and the departure of the founding CEO becomes really big news.
When Jack Dorsey announced he was resigning as CEO of Twitter in November 2021, the news came as a shock to many and was anticipated by more than just a few observers. Dorsey led the creation of Twitter in 2006 and was ousted by the social media brand in 2008. He was tapped to return as CEO in 2015 and was tasked with revitalizing the company amidst increased competition from other media platforms. During his recent reign, Twitter’s revenue increased from $2.5 billion in 2006 to an anticipated $5.0 billion in 2021. Despite the seemingly positive success, investors typically expect more, both in revenue performance, brand position and stature among competitors.
Activist investors at Elliot Management were leading the charge for leadership change at Twitter as early as 2020. “Twitter is now executing against an ambitious multi-year plan to dramatically increase the company’s reach and value, and we look forward to the next chapter of Twitter’s story,” Elliott said. “Having gotten to know both incoming Chairman Bret Taylor and incoming CEO Parag Agrawal, we are confident that they are the right leaders for Twitter at this pivotal moment for the company.” Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief technology officer, was immediately appointed to be Dorsey’s successor. Advertisers, which are Twitter’s main source of revenue, are now contemplating what’s next for the company under new leadership and how the changes will impact advertising campaigns and marketing strategies. Dorsey will remain on the board of directors at Twitter, but will focus his efforts going forward on running his newest vision, Block, formerly known as Square.
Twitter recently introduced a new subscription-based model called Twitter Blue, a move many predicted was intended to defuse the brand’s dependence on advertising as the Company’s only source of revenue. For $2.99 a month, paying users get access to premium Twitter services, like ad-free articles from hundreds of publishing partners. Twitter’s in-house creator community is helping advertisers form meaningful connections with users. While the platform is less affected by privacy concerns than other competitors, it is working to meet the mandated regulations concerning the handling of user data in 2023. It is likely that the platform will remain controversial due to its policy of banning twitters who post content that is viewed as inappropriate by the company fact-checkers. The policy that many users call “censorship” was not supported whole heartedly by Dorsey. Concerns around the controversial policy of limiting debate on Twitter is generating new entrants to the social media marketplace.
Twitter has garnered an unwelcome reputation as an “also ran” among its many larger and more popular social media rivals; Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, resulting in several years of stalled membership growth. The gravitation to new leadership raises questions about who will really be the platform’s future visionary: How will it take advantage of new revenue opportunities, and how will it advance the brand’s image in a crowded, increasingly competitive social media space?