What Happens to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal After Musk Deal

Following a tumultuous 12 days of negotiations, billionaire Elon Musk reached an agreement with Twitter’s board, including former CEO Jack Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal, on April 25 to purchase Twitter for approximately $44 billion. The world’s richest man pledged to overhaul the platform’s content moderation tactics in a move that would promote what he considers free speech.

As owner of the company, Musk will have the power to transform the board and fire key individuals who don’t align with his vision for the platform. In a securities filing April 13, Musk said he did not “have confidence in [the company’s] management”.

That puts Twitter’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, at risk. But what is Agrawal’s background and what could happen to him following Musk’s takeover?

Parag Agrawal: Who are you?

Agrawal had only been in the role of CEO for 5 months before the announcement of Musk’s takeover. Agrawal kept a low profile before he was appointed in November to the role of CEO.

Indian-born technology expert Agrawal moved to America in 2005 in order to pursue a PhD in computer science at Stanford University. After brief stints in research at Microsoft, AT&T and Yahoo, Agrawal joined Twitter as a software engineer in 2011. According to The New York Times, with less than 1000 employees, it was still in its early stages of using machine learning to generate targeted advertising.

Agrawal built a reputation as one of the platform’s top engineers, and was appointed to a team that transformed Twitter’s developing projects. He was also instrumental in focusing the platform’s efforts on the “timeline” structure of tweets on users’ homepages.

Agrawal, who was appointed Chief Technology Officer in 2017, moved Twitter onto cloud computing services as a way to fix engineering problems that caused slow growth.

In 2019, Twitter’s founder and then-CEO, Jack Dorsey, announced that Twitter would fund an open-source project to create decentralized social media, with Agrawal at the helm. Project Bluesky was a technology-based protocol that allows seamless sharing between multiple social networks. According to the Times it will allow users to decide on their moderation policies and create their algorithm for promoting content.

​​Agrawal also oversaw Twitter’s effort to incorporate cryptocurrencies into the platform, letting users send tips to each other, according to the Times.

Dorsey, who closely collaborated with Agrawal during his time as CTO on the company’s direction, described his trust in Agrawal as “bone deep”.

How did Agrawal get appointed CEO of Twitter in the first place?

It had already been a rocky 6 months for Twitter before Musk’s takeover bid. The platform’s founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO in November 2021 after facing scrutiny from investors over the amount of time he spent on other projects. Twitter posted a net loss last year of $221 millions, slowing it down compared to other social media platforms over its 16-year existence.

In tweet on Nov. 29, Dorsey announced his resignation and said that Agrawal had been chosen as his successor after a “rigorous process”.

“He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs,” he said. “Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around…He leads with his heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily.”

Agrawal, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission documents, receives an annual $1 million salary and bonuses as well stock awards and stock options.

Was Agrawal right about freedom of speech?

Agrawal shares Dorsey’s vision for a future of decentralized social media platforms, according to CNBC. When developing Project Bluesky in 2019, Agrawal commented that Twitter’s moderation softwares would be guided by algorithms, not company executives.

“Our role has shifted from ‘we host a bunch of content’ to ‘we guide people toward what they are interested in,’” he said in November. “We are thinking about this in terms of, ‘How does something get attention and in what context?’ What do you host or not host is a problem of 10 years ago.

Twitter’s content moderation policies landed the company at the center of free speech debates when it suspended Donald Trump’s account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, citing concerns that his tweets risked “further incitement of violence.”This company is a hateful conduct policyThis ban explicitly prohibits the use of tweets to incite violence against protected groups or fear thereof.

Continue reading: What Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter Could Mean for Donald Trump’s Account

Musk, who described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, wants to overhaul Twitter’s content moderation procedures.

“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk said in an SEC filing. “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”

Agrawal’s views on free speech on Twitter, which he shared in an interview with MIT Technology Review in 2020, seem antithetical to Musk’s views.

“Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation,” he said. “The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed.

“One of the changes today that we see is speech is easy on the internet…The scarce commodity today is attention.” The then-CTO said the platform’s main struggle is making sure its algorithms are pointing to content which “lead[s] to a healthy public conservation.”

Continue reading: ‘The Idea Exposes His Naiveté.’ Twitter Employees On Why Elon Musk Is Wrong About Free Speech

What has Agrawal said about Musk’s deal?

Following news of Musk’s deal April 25, Agrawal tweeted: “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”

The CEO also spoke at a meeting of employees across the company that same day to inform them about the uncertain future for Twitter under Musk.

According to Reuters, Agrawal deferred many questions including those about the board’s rationale for the deal, instead directing to Musk. The company told employees that Musk will participate in a Q&A session at a later date. Agrawal said, however that there was no plan to lay off employees.

Asked whether Trump will be allowed back on the platform, Agrawal said: “Once the deal closes, we don’t know which direction the platform will go…I believe when we have an opportunity to speak with Elon, it’s a question we should address with him.”

In an email to employees earlier in the day, Agrawal said that he realized the deal would be a “significant change and you’re likely processing what this means for you and Twitter’s future.”

Musk’s takeover could mean that Agrawal is in jeopardy.

Agrawal and Musk’s views on content moderation clearly clash, but the question remains over whether the owner-to-be will keep the CEO on board. In his SEC filing, Musk did not specify who he does not have confidence in within Twitter’s management.

In the town hall meeting reported by Reuters, Bret Taylor, chair of Twitter’s board of directors, reassured employees that the agreement with Musk prioritized “operating continuity” until the deal was closed. He didn’t say what this means for the company’s chief executives, however.

Twitter’s founder Dorsey tweeted that while he supported Musk’s takeover, he believed the Tesla CEO’s vision for Twitter aligned with that of Agrawal.

“Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is ‘maximally trusted and broadly inclusive’ is the right one,” he said. “This is also @paraga’s goal, and why I chose him. Thank you both for getting the company out of an impossible situation.”

Equilar research estimates that Agrawal’s compensation would be $42 Million if he was terminated in 12 months after a Twitter change of control.

Here are more must-read stories from TIME

Reach out to usSend your letters to


Related Articles

Back to top button