Twitter chief tries to remain the course as Elon Musk upends his plans

SAN FRANCISCO — In a digital assembly for Twitter executives final week, Parag Agrawal acknowledged that he was exhausted.

Mr Agrawal, chief government of Twitter, had spent the previous six weeks main the corporate by means of a $44 billion sale for Elon Musk, the richest individual on the planet. Some staff have been brazenly rebelling in opposition to their new proprietor, who had criticized the social media service and its executives. Others have been sad with Mr. Agrawal recent corporate reshuffles. And Mr. Musk appeared more likely to power Mr. Agrawal out of his job.

On the assembly, Mr Agrawal was “uncooked” about Twitter’s troubles and the hurricane of consideration sparked by Mr Musk’s deal, two individuals with information of the occasion mentioned. However he additionally expressed a way of acceptance of his scenario and mentioned he would transfer ahead along with his plans for the corporate, they mentioned.

Mr. Agrawal touched on areas that he mentioned have been vital for enchancment: Twitter’s core product, the depth of the corporate’s know-how, the enterprise, freedom of expression on the platform and, most significantly, , what management seems like. Some executives left the assembly underneath stress, the individuals mentioned.

That was what Mr. Agrawal may do underneath the circumstances. It is due to all the highest tech jobs the 38-year-old is in for what is probably probably the most unattainable.

The manager of Indian origin, protected against Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has solely been on the helm of the corporate since November. He was anticipated to remodel Twitter after years of failed progress and monetary targets. However Mr. Musk stepped in inside months, basically turning Mr. Agrawal right into a lame duck who should handle a stressed workforce and cope with Twitter’s rising financial challenges earlier than he’s seemingly kicked out of the corporate. .

“There isn’t any one on the planet who would need to be in these footwear,” mentioned Bob Sutton, organizational psychologist and professor at Stanford College.

But whilst Mr Agrawal grapples with the scenario, he faces a comfortable touchdown. If Mr. Musk removes him as chief government, Mr. Agrawal will earn tens of tens of millions, in keeping with securities filings. (In November, he bought a compensation package an annual wage of $1 million, plus bonuses, in addition to restricted share models and efficiency share models value $12.5 million.)

Mr. Agrawal will seem at Twitter’s annual shareholder assembly on Wednesday, which will probably be held nearly. He and different executives should not anticipated to debate the cope with Mr. Musk, which shareholders will vote on at a later date. As an alternative, Mr. Agrawal will maintain the assembly procedural and quick, in keeping with a regulatory submitting.

Behind the scenes, employees and advisers mentioned Mr Agrawal had labored with bankers and board members to finish the sale of Twitter to Mr Musk, although the billionaire has just lately steered he wanted to renegotiate and made scathing feedback in regards to the firm.

Mr Agrawal has additionally doubled down on his Twitter overhaul plans whereas he can. This month he fired two top executives, suspended most hiring and reduce discretionary spending after the corporate missed monetary targets. He additionally plans to enhance Twitter’s performance utilizing machine studying, make the platform extra engaging to new customers and launch new merchandise sooner, in keeping with a presentation at a gathering. enterprise this month.

“I do know we’re going by means of a interval of uncertainty,” Mr. Agrawal mentioned throughout that assembly, in keeping with a recording obtained by The New York Occasions. “We deal with our work.”

Mr. Agrawal joined Twitter as an engineer in 2011 whereas finishing his doctoral research in laptop science at Stanford. He then rose steadily by means of the corporate’s ranks, changing into chief know-how officer in 2017. He has spent most of his profession with the corporate and has greater than 610,000 subscribers on the service.

As Chief Know-how Officer, Mr. Agrawal labored on a few of Twitter’s advanced technical challenges and constructed relationships along with his engineering friends and Mr. Dorsey. He shared Dorsey’s imaginative and prescient that Twitter’s future hinged on redesigning its know-how so it may rely extra on machine studying and decentralize its companies to provide customers extra management over their experiences on the platform.

When Mr Dorsey handed over the reins to Mr Agrawal in November, the engineer went from overseeing a handful of employees to immediately managing greater than 7,000 individuals. “My religion in him as CEO runs deep,” Mr Dorsey mentioned on the time.

Mr. Agrawal instantly made modifications. Just a few days after changing into common supervisor, he fired two top executives answerable for design and engineering. He gave the remaining leaders broader obligations. In inside emails seen by The Occasions, he emphasised accountability, saying the brand new construction would make clear who was answerable for what duties and velocity up decision-making.

In January, Mr. Agrawal expelled two security officers. In an inside memo, he mentioned the group was not being run in keeping with his expectations, affecting precedence work.

Credit score…Twitter, through Getty Photographs

Some Twitter staff applauded the strikes, saying a few of the ousted executives have been sluggish or bullied employees. Others have been shocked that Mr Agrawal sacked longtime leaders and located him impenetrable.

In March, Mr. Musk started constitute a significant stake in Twitter. On March 31, Mr. Agrawal spoke with Mr. Musk to supply him to affix Twitter’s board, in keeping with a regulatory submitting. Mr Musk originally agreed, then in the other way. Mr. Musk mentioned he was additionally evaluating a proposal to make Twitter non-public and had the concept of ​​creating a brand new social media firm, in keeping with the submitting.

It was Mr. Agrawal’s first style of Mr. Musk’s unpredictable model, which shortly grew to become routine. Mr. Musk shortly launched a takeover bid for the corporate, accomplished the deal, after which tipped Mr. Agrawal on Twitter over points together with the faux accounts. When Mr Agrawal tried to handle the considerations on Twitter, Mr Musk responded by sending him a poo emoji.

On Twitter, some staff criticized Mr Agrawal, in keeping with 10 present and former staff who spoke on situation of anonymity. He advised employees he couldn’t share details about the cope with Mr Musk as a result of the small print have been hashed. He was additionally initially silent in firm conferences, they mentioned, and was absent from an inside dialog with staff.

Mr Agrawal’s supporters mentioned it was legally forbidden to share details about the deal, in keeping with two individuals with information of the matter, and internally he expressed frustration at not having the ability to say extra about it. the settlement. After the deal was signed, Twitter held employees conferences and despatched out greater than a dozen emails to replace employees. Final week, Twitter let staff ask Vijaya Gadde, the authorized and coverage officer, and Ned Segal, the chief monetary officer, questions in regards to the deal.

Advocates of Mr Agrawal mentioned he was extra gregarious and charming in small teams. They added that his modifications have been lengthy overdue, particularly in an organization that had resisted change.

In Slack messages and group chats, different staff expressed enthusiasm for Mr. Musk’s possession, believing his ardour for Twitter may reinvigorate the corporate.

However Mr. Agrawal has detractors. At firm conferences in latest weeks, he has generally mentioned that nothing will change “for now”. Some staff mocked his feedback, creating memes of Mr Agrawal making these repeated assurances, the individuals mentioned.

Many staff stay unsure about their future on the firm, a number of individuals mentioned. Some are additionally bristling on the golden parachutes Mr Agrawal and different high executives will obtain if they’re fired after the cope with Mr Musk is struck, the individuals mentioned.

Mr Agrawal advised confidants he would undergo along with his plans slightly than simply look forward to Mr Musk to take over. After decrease spending and freezing almost all hiring on the firm this month, he tried to rally employees.

“On this time of change, it is vital that we proceed to strengthen our work by means of elevated accountability and execution to make Twitter all it may be,” he wrote in an e-mail to Twitter. staff, which was seen by The Occasions. “Our objective is existential.”

ryan mac contributed report.

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