India-born techies, many of whom have studied at the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other prominent tech institutions in the country, are now heading global technology companies with Parag Agrawal becoming the latest to be elevated as chief executive officer (CEO) of microblogging site, Twitter, after Jack Dorsey decided to step down from the position.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Dorsey announced on Monday that he will be stepping down from the position, after spending almost 16 years at the micro-blogging platform. The step-down in his role comes with immediate effect, with Agrawal now at the helm of affairs.
Agrawal had so far served as the chief technology officer (CTO) of Twitter after joining the company in 2011. He holds a B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and a Ph.D in Computer Science from Stanford University. Between 2006 and 2009, he worked in two short stints at Microsoft, with a research role at Yahoo in between. He held a short role at AT&T Labs in 2010, before joining Twitter in 2011.
At Twitter, Agrawal became the company’s first ‘Distinguished Engineer’ because of his work on revenue and consumer engineering, and for having considerable impact on the company with his work on re-accelerating audience growth in 2016 and 2017. In October 2017, Agrawal was appointed Twitter’s chief technology officer (CTO), which is the role that he served until today.
Agrawal was put in charge of Project Bluesky by Dorsey back in 2019, which is the company’s efforts towards building an “open and decentralised” social media standard. The platform straddles a division that is called Twitter Crypto, which is Twitter’s work on using blockchain technology to achieve its decentralisation goals.
Twitter has become an increasingly important platform for domestic and international politics. As of the second quarter of 2021, Twitter had 206 million monetizable daily active users worldwide, according to market research firm Statista. It is popular in the US, where as of October 2021, the microblogging service had 77.75 million users. Japan and India were ranked second and third with more than 58 and 24.5 million users, respectively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for instance, had 75 million users at the time of going to press.
Agarwal joins other techies like Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who may be the two best known Indian names in tech. Chennai-born Pichai was elevated to the position of Google CEO in 2015, and took over as the CEO of its parent company Alphabet in 2019. He is a B.Tech from IIT, Kharagpur and had joined Google in 2004.
Nadella, on the other hand, took over the reins at Microsoft in 2014, when the then CEO Steve Ballmer had stepped down from the position. Nadella has a BE from Manipal Institute of Technology and an MS from Stanford. He also acquired a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from Wharton.
Further, while Nadella and Pichai help two of the biggest and most powerful software companies in the world, an Indian was also in charge of one of the world’s biggest telecom companies. Rajeev Suri, who joined Finnish telecom firm Nokia in 1995 was elevated to President and CEO in April 2014, after Microsoft acquired the company. He left Nokia last year.
Other big tech firms like Adobe, flash memory storage company SanDisk and security firm Palo Alto Networks also have Indians at the helm. While Shantanu Narayen has been heading Adobe as CEO since 2007, SanDisk was co-founded by Indian-American businessman Sanjay Mehrotra. Nikesh Arora, the ex-CEO of investment firm Softbank now heads security firm Palo Alto Networks as its chairman and CEO. Another Indian, Arvind Krishna, joined technology major IBM in 1990 and became CEO in 2020. He also took on the role of the chairman of its Board of Directors in December 2020.