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Jack Dorsey’s decision to quit Twitter is not a vote of confidence in future of social media

Writer : Theo Tzanidis, Senior Lecturer in Digital Advertising and marketing, College of the West of Scotland

When Jack Dorsey made the sudden public announcement that he had give up as CEO of Twitter, it was solely ever going to have occurred in a single place – Twitter itself. It jogged my memory very a lot of Elon Musk’s entertaining tweet adventures, as Dorsey tossed his resignation letter onto the social media platform that he co-founded. You could possibly think about him sitting again to take in the theatre of response and hypothesis that unfolded.

This isn’t Dorsey’s first resignation letter to Twitter – he was pressured out of the CEO chair in 2008 solely to return as govt chairman three years later – and nobody can say for positive if it will likely be the final.

Based on the e-mail despatched to Twitter workers through which he introduced his newest resignation, he thinks the agency ought to “stand by itself, freed from its founder’s affect or path”. Within the ensuing tweet storm after he then put the information on Twitter, he insisted it had been his determination. So what does all of it add as much as?

Social media’s midlife disaster

Dorsey’s transfer was not fully surprising. For greater than a yr, he has been underneath intense stress from activist buyers to speed up Twitter’s improvement and enhance its monetary efficiency.

Wall Road buyers have criticised Dorsey’s outdoors pursuits, which embody working funds big Sq., which he based throughout his final Twitter exile, in addition to pursuing futuristic tasks centred round decentralising (which means eradicating conventional company management from) the web and finance. Notably, Twitter’s share value shot up with the announcement, solely to be pulled down with the remainder of the market because it worries concerning the COVID omicron variant.

I sense a similarity right here between Dorsey and different digital moguls corresponding to Jeff Bezos and, as soon as once more, Musk. Like Dorsey, Bezos and Musk each run two firms in Amazon/Blue Origin and Tesla/SpaceX respectively, in addition to searching for totally different types of pleasure and journey, with Bezos’ efforts to achieve house orbit and Musk sending a Tesla Roadster sports activities automotive into house. All of it appears to indicate mega-tech founders changing into dissatisfied with the monotonous administration of their most well-known firms and on the lookout for one thing extra.

Within the case of Twitter, there may be additionally the social-media dimension. Platforms like Twitter, Fb and YouTube are more and more burdened by political controversy and complicated points corresponding to disinformation, privateness breaches and hate speech. Twitter, for instance, grew to become the megaphone of selection for Donald Trump earlier than later banning him, and is having to wrestle with hate speech as a world concern. It’s typically mentioned that these firms are dealing with a social media midlife disaster.

Cartoon of Donald Trump on a Twitter bird

Lest we overlook.
Anton Khodakovskiy

There aren’t any easy options, so it is smart that somebody like Dorsey would possibly get extra thrilled by creating novel issues than mending present ones. It’d make sense handy over management of your empire to others and set off in quest of recent horizons.

Dorsey’s reference to “founder ego” in his farewell message to Twitter and workers can solely be interpreted as a poke at Mark Zuckerberg, who has proven no indicators of relinquishing management over Fb/Meta. Quite the opposite, he’s trying to additional develop the corporate’s affect by upgrading its operations to a extra a digital actuality model of the web often called the metaverse or 3Dweb.

When Fb made its historic announcement in October that it was rebranding as Meta, Dorsey’s tweets hinted at his disapproval of Zuckerberg’s determination to remain on. Regardless of Dorsey insisting this week that he loves Twitter, I think he sees troublesome instances forward for social media firms and even the idea of those “conventional” platforms.

For my part, the times are gone when younger builders needed to work for Google, Fb or Twitter. They now appear extra fascinated with “flipping” NFTs (shopping for and promoting these digital collectibles for a fast revenue) and writing functions for the (non-Meta) metaverse. In the meantime, regulators are growing the warmth on Silicon Valley’s outdated guard over their moral requirements round content material and use of knowledge. And if the metaverse is the longer term, it raises questions on precisely how a microblogging platform with a slim user-base matches into this new 3D period.

What subsequent for Jack

Whereas Dorsey has handed management of Twitter to 37-year-old chief know-how officer Parag Agrawal, he could have extra time to concentrate on Sq.. The funds agency is valued at almost US$100 billion (£75 billion) – greater than double Twitter – and one in every of its fundamental focuses has been to maneuver cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

Sq. has bitcoin on its steadiness sheet and is planning to launch a decentralised crypto change referred to as tbDEX, in addition to probably transferring into bitcoin mining (the creation of recent bitcoin). Dorsey can be an angel investor in quite a few different tasks, together with music streaming app Tidal, through which rapper Jay Z is a co-investor.

In lots of respects, the cryptocurrency panorama has inherited the free, freewheeling angle that characterised the early days of social media platforms. Decentralised start-ups like finance platform Compound, crypto change Uniswap and forex maker MakerDao are making massive income and changing into increasingly common.

They’re dominated by eccentric geniuses corresponding to Uniswap creator Hayden Adams and MakerDao’s Rune Christensen, who’ve uncommon backgrounds and voracious appetites for danger. It should seem like an interesting touchdown website for burned-out tech professionals attempting to rekindle their optimism.

As I at all times say to my college students, we live in an age of acceleration, the place know-how is creating at a charge quicker than what any particular person can sustain with. To outlive this, we’d like a brand new mind-set about know-how.

Silicon Valley CEOs like Jack Dorsey have been the catalysts for this period, and now they too should adapt and reinvent the very world they created. Dorsey has the benefit that he has had one foot on this new camp for a while. His departure doesn’t give me an excessive amount of confidence in conventional social media, but it surely may give added impetus to crypto and tech start-ups.


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