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Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal succeeds Jack Dorsey as the company's CEO

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

There's been a changing of the guard at Twitter. CEO Jack Dorsey, the eccentric co-founder known for his dedication to meditation, fasting and Bitcoin, has stepped down. Replacing him is a Twitter veteran few outside the company have heard of. NPR's tech correspondent Shannon Bond has more.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: Jack Dorsey left Twitter once before. In 2008, he was pushed out as CEO after clashing with a fellow co-founder. He told employees in an email yesterday, this time, he's leaving on his own terms. The handover comes at a critical moment for big social media platforms.

MARGARET O'MARA: There's a lot of heat and a lot of friction and politics associated with being these social networks on which so much public conversation plays out.

BOND: Margaret O'Mara is a Silicon Valley historian. She points to Facebook's recent pivot to building the so-called metaverse.

O'MARA: So too, perhaps, Twitter is looking at, what is the next-gen social network going to be?

BOND: Now the man responsible for answering that question is Parag Agrawal. He's a Stanford-trained computer scientist who joined Twitter as a software engineer a decade ago. He became chief technology officer in 2017. Twitter insiders say Agrawal is a close confidant of Dorsey who shares his vision of a future in which Twitter runs on technology that gives users greater control. They expect cryptocurrency and the blockchain to play big roles. Dorsey has been talking up this vision to investors for a while. Here he is on an earnings call this summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JACK DORSEY: So obviously, I've been reading and talking a lot about Bitcoin. So I thought it was important to explain a little bit more as to why.

BOND: While some current and former employees told NPR they were surprised, Agrawal was tapped for the role, Dorsey says his trust in his successor is, quote, "bone deep." As technology chief, Agrawal worked on machine learning and other technical advances that have allowed Twitter to roll out new features and products more quickly as it's tried to shake off a reputation for being slow to innovate. Historian O'Mara says choosing Agrawal to succeed Dorsey is a signal...

O'MARA: That the technology itself, the technology of the platform and redesigning what social media is like will be something that Twitter is trying to center going forward.

BOND: Now it will be Agrawal, not Dorsey, who's the public face of that vision.

Shannon Bond, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARLEY CARROLL'S "STARLINGS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.