For CEOs, social media has lost its fun

CEO Jack Dorsey’s departure from Twitter shows that in today’s Silicon Valley, social media has become an escape.

why does it matter: Dorsey’s resignation comes on the heels of Facebook’s name change and new focus on the metaverse, another sign that the industry is now viewing the massive social networks it’s built over the past two decades as flawed “legacy apps” mired in pesky social problems.

  • The most ambitious and anxious tech founders, investors, and engineers have always preferred building something new from scratch to overhauling existing products.

News leadership: Dorsey, who first wrote the idea for Twitter on a legal platform two decades ago, announced Monday morning that he would step down as CEO and leave the company he’s been leading since 2015.

  • The move comes weeks after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced he was changing his company’s name to Meta and refocusing its future efforts around virtual and augmented reality and creating a 3D digital dimension of work and play.
  • Conflict in boardrooms with activist investors may have pushed Dorsey out. But it was clear — in everything from his public tweets to his interactions within the company, as employees reported — that the CEO was hesitant about his job, too.

The Big Picture: Recent years have seen a sharp decline in public trust on social media in the US, with users blaming companies for polarizing national policies, misusing personal information, and letting hate speech run rampant. The CEO position has increasingly grown politically.

  • Executives are regularly summoned before Congress to answer lawmakers’ questions and listen to their harassment—a process that Dorsey, more than his peers, seemed to view as a ridiculous imposition.
  • Dorsey’s decision to ban Donald Trump in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riots robbed the former president of the megaphone he still misses. The right wept the censors and the left blamed Dorsey for not acting sooner.

Instead of messing around In the unwinnable world of politics, most CTOs prefer to dream up ideas for new platforms and lead teams of developers to build them.

  • Running a social media company lost its appeal once it became a job full of intractable dilemmas – balancing freedom of expression, disinformation, privacy, interoperability, openness, user safety, and more.

industry watchers He predicted that in his post-Twitter career, Dorsey – who was also the CEO of Square, the online payments company, the whole time he ran Twitter – would continue his passion for bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and the entire web3/blockchain movement.

  • His successor as Twitter CEO, current CTO Parag Agrawal, is now leading the company’s Bluesky project – an effort to rebuild social media around open blockchain protocols.

Yes, but: Facebook has 3 billion customers, and Twitter is still the closest thing to a public arena left on the Internet today.

  • TikTok is growing rapidly. The messages still have room to grow. People will always need to connect in some way.
  • Big social media platforms aren’t going anywhere — but they may need a new kind of leader.

deepen: Technology founders left the building


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