Twitter’s Chief Tries Staying the Course as Elon Musk Upends Plans

SAN FRANCISCO — At a virtual conference for Twitter executives previous week, Parag Agrawal admitted he was fatigued.

Mr. Agrawal, Twitter’s main govt, had spent the past six months steering the firm by means of a $44 billion sale to Elon Musk, the world’s richest person. Some workers were rebelling brazenly against their new proprietor, who had criticized the social media support and its executives. Other people had been upset at Mr. Agrawal’s modern company shake-ups. And Mr. Musk appeared possible to pressure Mr. Agrawal from his position.

At the meeting, Mr. Agrawal was “raw” about Twitter’s difficulties and the hurricane of notice more than Mr. Musk’s deal, two people today with awareness of the celebration stated. But he also conveyed a sense of acceptance of his predicament and explained he would move ahead with his programs for the company, they claimed.

Mr. Agrawal touched on regions that he reported ended up vital to enhance upon: Twitter’s main solution, the company’s depth of know-how, the organization, cost-free speech throughout the platform and, importantly, what management looks like. Some executives left the meeting energized, the individuals reported.

It was what Mr. Agrawal could do specified the circumstances. Which is because of all the leading positions in tech, the 38-yr-old is in what may possibly be the most impossible one.

The Indian-born govt, a protégé of the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has been in charge of the business only because November. He was predicted to convert Twitter all around just after many years of missed advancement and fiscal goals. But Mr. Musk swooped in inside of months, essentially turning Mr. Agrawal into a lame duck who have to regulate a restive perform power and offer with Twitter’s mounting financial difficulties before he is probably to be booted from the business.

“There’s no one particular in the planet who would want to be in individuals sneakers,” claimed Bob Sutton, an organizational psychologist and professor at Stanford University.

Nevertheless even as Mr. Agrawal grapples with the condition, he faces a smooth landing. If Mr. Musk gets rid of him as main government, Mr. Agrawal stands to make $60 million, in accordance to securities filings. (In November, he was granted a compensation package deal of an once-a-year salary of $1 million, plus bonuses, as nicely as limited stock units and performance-primarily based stock models valued at $12.5 million.)

Mr. Agrawal appeared at Twitter’s yearly shareholder conference on Wednesday, which was held nearly. He and other executives mentioned they could not go over the phrases of the offer, which shareholders will vote on at a later date, till the transaction shut. They also fielded shareholder thoughts on Twitter’s merchandise, misinformation, and the worth of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Twitter’s board also underwent modifications on Wednesday. It was Mr. Dorsey’s previous working day on the board. And Egon Durban, a private equity government and Twitter board member, resigned just after not acquiring enough shareholder votes to ascertain whether or not he would proceed serving. Twitter’s board is thinking of his resignation, but could decrease and request him to stay on the firm is expected to situation a final decision on Thursday.

At the rear of the scenes, staff members and advisers explained, Mr. Agrawal has been doing work with bankers and board associates to near Twitter’s sale to Mr. Musk, even while the billionaire has not long ago recommended he would like to renegotiate and has created barbed remarks about the business.

Mr. Agrawal has also doubled down on his ideas to overhaul Twitter even though he can. This thirty day period, he fired two leading executives, paused most hiring and pulled again on discretionary expending immediately after the enterprise skipped economical aims. He also ideas to boost Twitter’s capabilities making use of equipment finding out, and wishes to make the platform a lot more eye-catching to new people and move extra quickly to debut new goods, according to a presentation at a organization meeting this month.

“I know we’ve been going via a period of uncertainty,” Mr. Agrawal explained at that conference, in accordance to a recording of it that was acquired by The New York Instances. “We are shifting our target back again to our get the job done.”

Mr. Agrawal joined Twitter as an engineer in 2011 even though finishing his doctoral research in pc science at Stanford. He then rose steadily via the company’s ranks, getting to be chief technological know-how officer in 2017. He has invested most of his vocation at the company and has far more than 610,000 followers on the services.

As chief technological innovation officer, Mr. Agrawal labored on some of Twitter’s difficult technological difficulties and crafted relationships with his engineering peers and Mr. Dorsey. He shared Mr. Dorsey’s vision that Twitter’s future hinged on overhauling its know-how so it could depend more on device finding out and decentralize its companies to give customers extra regulate in excess of their encounters on the system.

When Mr. Dorsey handed the reins to Mr. Agrawal in November, the engineer went from overseeing a handful of staff members to quickly controlling a lot more than 7,000 persons. “My have confidence in in him as our C.E.O. is bone-deep,” Mr. Dorsey reported at the time.

Mr. Agrawal promptly manufactured changes. Times immediately after getting to be chief executive, he dismissed two prime executives accountable for design and engineering. He gave remaining leaders broader duties. In inside emails seen by The Instances, he pressured accountability, indicating the new construction would clarify who was accountable for what tasks and speed up determination-generating.

In January, Mr. Agrawal pushed out two safety executives. In an inner memo, he reported the firm was not remaining led according to his anticipations, which was impacting top-precedence work.

Credit rating…Twitter, through Getty Photos

Some Twitter workforce applauded the moves, declaring that some of the ousted executives experienced been sluggish or experienced bullied workers. Other people had been shocked that Mr. Agrawal had dismissed longtime leaders and identified him inscrutable.

By March, Mr. Musk experienced started off constructing up a massive stake in Twitter. On March 31, Mr. Agrawal spoke with Mr. Musk to pitch him on joining Twitter’s board, according to a regulatory submitting. Mr. Musk initially agreed, then reversed study course. Mr. Musk said he was also weighing a bid to take Twitter private and experienced an notion of commencing a new social media company, according to the filing.

It was Mr. Agrawal’s initial brush with Mr. Musk’s unpredictable design and style, which speedily grew to become program. Mr. Musk quickly introduced a takeover bid for the enterprise, sealed the offer and then needled Mr. Agrawal on Twitter more than problems these kinds of as pretend accounts. When Mr. Agrawal attempted addressing the concerns on Twitter, Mr. Musk responded by sending him a poop emoji.

At Twitter, some staff members soured on Mr. Agrawal, in accordance to 10 current and former workforce who spoke on the affliction of anonymity. He told staff he could not share details on the offer with Mr. Musk as specifics have been hashed out. He was also initially silent at corporation meetings, they said, and was absent from an inner personnel chat.

Mr. Agrawal’s supporters stated he was lawfully restricted from sharing facts about the offer, according to two folks with knowledge of the subject, and internally he expressed his frustrations with being unable to to begin with say extra about the offer. Soon after the agreement was signed, Twitter held employees meetings and sent far more than a dozen emails to update workers. Last 7 days, Twitter allow workforce question Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal and plan, and Ned Segal, the chief money officer, inquiries about the deal.

Mr. Agrawal’s defenders reported he is far more gregarious and charming in smaller sized team configurations. They added that his improvements were being extended overdue, primarily at a company that experienced been resistant to transform.

In Slack messages and group chats, other employees have expressed pleasure for Mr. Musk’s ownership, believing his passion for Twitter could re-energize the company.

But Mr. Agrawal has detractors. At company conferences in modern months, he from time to time reported that nothing would adjust “at this time.” Some staff members have mocked his opinions, making memes of Mr. Agrawal earning individuals repeated assurances, the men and women claimed.

Quite a few staff continue being uncertain about their futures at the organization, numerous men and women mentioned. Some are also bristling at the golden parachutes that Mr. Agrawal and other leading executives will obtain if they are fired after the offer with Mr. Musk closes, the men and women claimed.

Mr. Agrawal has explained to confidants that he will carry out his strategies instead than simply just ready for Mr. Musk to choose around. Soon after slashing paying and freezing approximately all choosing at the firm this month, he experimented with to rally employees.

“During this time of transform, it’s vital that we keep on to reinforce our do the job as a result of amplified accountability and execution to make Twitter every thing it can be,” he wrote in an e mail to employees, which was viewed by The Times. “Our purpose is existential.”

Ryan Mac contributed reporting.