Jack Dorsey: the outgoing CEO of Twitter with an artistic vision

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Jack Dorsey likes to keep it simple, at least for a 45-year-old multi-billionaire. He eats one meal a day, fasts on weekends, and tries to meditate for two hours a day. The post that kicked off Twitter, and ultimately a million stacks, was just as austere: “just setting up my twttr”.

Dorsey was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1976 and was a self-taught computer programmer, using a Macintosh computer his father had purchased for him. In 1999, he dropped out of New York University and moved to California, where he devised the idea of ​​a prototype Twitter while co-founding an online courier and taxi dispatch company. The business then failed.

Twitter’s story began to take shape when Dorsey was hired as a coder at Odeo, a podcasting startup run by future Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. This is where Dorsey appears in Sarah Frier’s award-winning Instagram story as one of the peripheral figures of the story, trying to make her way into Silicon Valley like so many others.

“Dorsey, a 29-year-old who dropped out of New York University with an anarchist tattoo and a nose ring, considered himself more of an artist. He sometimes dreamed, for example, of becoming a fashion designer. He was an engineer, but only as a means to an end – to create something out of nothing, with code. Also, so that he can pay the rent.

However, there was enough business acumen within Dorsey that he co-founded Twttr – soon to be renamed Twitter – with Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass in 2006. Dorsey first became CEO in 2007.

Indeed, Dorsey’s artistic state of mind was clearly cited when he was first dismissed as CEO in 2008. According to Nick Bilton’s book Hatching Twitter, Williams told him, ” You can be either a seamstress or CEO of Twitter. But you can’t be both. Dorsey is said to have apparently cut her duties as general manager with breaks for hot yoga and tailoring classes.

Dorsey returned as executive chairman in 2011, after setting up payments company Square – now worth $ 100 billion – in the meantime. Twitter struggled following its IPO in 2013, which made Dorsey a billionaire, and it replaced Dick Costolo as chief executive in 2015 while stepping down as executive chairman.

Dorsey leaves the company with 210 million daily active users and annual revenues of $ 3.7 billion. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, he is worth $ 12.3 billion, ranked 174th among the world’s super-rich. He still owns 2.3% of Twitter.

But unrest had built up around Dorsey’s priorities. In 2019, Dorsey surprised staff and investors by announcing plans to move to Africa for up to six months a year. Announcing the move during a month-long trip to the continent, he tweeted, from Addis Ababa: “Sad to leave the continent… for now. Africa will define the future (especially that of bitcoin!). I don’t know where yet, but I will be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020. I am grateful that I was able to experience a little part.

Dorsey, who remains a cryptocurrency enthusiast, abandoned the plan after the coronavirus arrived. But that wouldn’t have deterred activist investment firm Elliott Management from thinking Twitter was a business in need of more attention at the top. Elliott took a stake in Twitter last year and is still the company’s 13th largest shareholder, according to financial data firm Refinitiv, with a stake of just over 1%. At the time of the stake-building move, billionaire Elliott owner Paul Singer was reportedly concerned that Dorsey had two CEO roles, at Twitter and Square.

At the end of last year, it emerged that Dorsey had survived the pressure. In November, a Twitter board of directors said it had “confidence in management and recommended that the current structure remain in place.”


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However, much of the innovation Twitter has shown under Dorsey’s leadership in recent months has more to do with security than money. It has launched trials warning users that they are about to enter into a heated conversation and is testing a “security mode” that blocks accounts for seven days if the tech firm’s systems detect them using a offensive language or sending repetitive and unsolicited responses and mentions. In the context of Frances Haugen’s Facebook revelations and the upcoming UK online safety law, social media companies know they need to focus on protecting users.

On the revenue side, in the United States, the company launched Twitter Blue, a product that, for $ 2.99 per month, offers a range of services, including a 60-second grace period to edit a tweet before it runs out. is fully published. Expect more lucrative initiatives under the leadership of the new boss, CTO Parag Agrawal, who must meet lofty goals: to increase the average number of daily users of the company by more than 50% to 315. million, and more than double revenue to $ 7.5 billion by 2023.

Now is the time for Dorsey to leave, according to a California analyst, as the social media industry becomes increasingly competitive.

“Dorsey is a mainstay of the social media world,” said Dan Ives, managing director of investment firm Wedbush Securities. “These are big shoes to fill. “

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