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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jack Dorsey’s Determination to Stop Twitter Is Not a Vote of Self-assurance in Future of Social Media

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Theo Tzanidis, Senior Lecturer in Digital Internet marketing, the University of the West of Scotland.

When Jack Dorsey made the sudden general public announcement that he experienced quit as CEO of Twitter, it was only ever likely to have occurred in a person location – Twitter by itself. It reminded me extremely much of Elon Musk’s entertaining tweet adventures, as Dorsey tossed his resignation letter on to the social media platform that he co-launched. You could consider him sitting again to soak up the theatre of response and speculation that unfolded.

This is not Dorsey’s first resignation letter to Twitter – he was forced out of the CEO chair in 2008 only to return as govt chairman a few many years afterwards – and no a single can say for absolutely sure if it will be the last.

According to the e-mail sent to Twitter staff in which he declared his hottest resignation, he thinks the company need to “stand on its have, no cost of its founder’s affect or direction”. In the ensuing tweetstorm, soon after he then set the news on Twitter, he insisted it experienced been his selection. So what does it all incorporate up to?

Social media’s midlife disaster

Dorsey’s transfer was not totally surprising. For additional than a calendar year, he has been under extreme pressure from activist buyers to accelerate Twitter’s advancement and enhance its fiscal functionality.

Wall Street investors have criticised Dorsey’s outside the house pursuits, which consist of managing payments big Square, which he launched in the course of his past Twitter exile, as properly as pursuing futuristic initiatives centred all around decentralizing (which means eradicating conventional corporate regulate from) the internet and finance. Notably, Twitter’s share cost shot up with the announcement, only to be pulled down with the rest of the industry as it anxieties about the COVID omicron variant.

I perception a similarity here between Dorsey and other digital moguls this kind of as Jeff Bezos and, the moment all over again, Musk. Like Dorsey, Bezos and Musk the two operate two providers in Amazon/Blue Origin and Tesla/SpaceX respectively, as effectively as trying to find diverse sorts of exhilaration and experience, with Bezos’ initiatives to access space orbit and Musk sending a Tesla Roadster athletics car into room. It all looks to signify mega-tech founders starting to be dissatisfied with the monotonous management of their most famed organizations and searching for a thing far more.

In the situation of Twitter, there is also the social-media dimension. Platforms like Twitter, Fb, and YouTube are significantly burdened by political controversy and advanced challenges these kinds of as disinformation, privacy breaches, and dislike speech. Twitter, for instance, became the megaphone of preference for Donald Trump in advance of afterwards banning him, and is possessing to wrestle with dislike speech as a world-wide issue. It is from time to time mentioned that these corporations are dealing with a social media midlife crisis.

Cartoon of Donald Trump on a Twitter bird
Lest we fail to remember. Anton Khodakovskiy

There are no easy answers, so it can make feeling that somebody like Dorsey could possibly get a lot more thrilled by making novel items than mending present ones. It may make sense to hand more than manage of your empire to some others and established off in quest of new horizons.

Dorsey’s reference to “founder ego” in his farewell message to Twitter and staff members can only be interpreted as a poke at Mark Zuckerberg, who has shown no signs of relinquishing manage in excess of Fb/Meta. On the contrary, he is on the lookout to additional build the company’s impact by upgrading its operations to a far more a digital actuality variation of the web acknowledged as the metaverse or 3Dweb.

When Fb designed its historic announcement in Oct that it was rebranding as Meta, Dorsey’s tweets hinted at his disapproval of Zuckerberg’s conclusion to continue to be on. Despite Dorsey insisting this week that he loves Twitter, I suspect he sees hard times forward for social media firms and even the thought of these “traditional” platforms.

In my check out, the days are absent when younger builders wanted to get the job done for Google, Facebook or Twitter. They now seem to be much more interested in “flipping” NFTs (obtaining and marketing these digital collectibles for a fast revenue) and writing apps for the (non-Meta) metaverse. Meanwhile, regulators are growing the heat on Silicon Valley’s outdated guard about their ethical requirements all over content and use of facts. And if the metaverse is the foreseeable future, it raises inquiries about specifically how a microblogging platform with a slender consumer-base matches into this new 3D era.

What subsequent for Jack

While Dorsey has handed management of Twitter to 37-12 months-aged chief technology officer Parag Agrawal, he will have a lot more time to target on Sq.. The payments agency is valued at almost USD 100bn – a lot more than double Twitter – and one particular of its main focuses has been to go cryptocurrencies into the mainstream.

Sq. has bitcoin on its stability sheet and is organizing to start a decentralized crypto exchange known as tbDEX, as very well as probably going into Bitcoin mining. Dorsey is also an angel trader in numerous other assignments, including tunes streaming app Tidal, in which rapper Jay Z is a co-investor.

In a lot of respects, the cryptocurrency landscape has inherited the unfastened, freewheeling perspective that characterised the early times of social media platforms. Decentralized start out-ups like finance platform Compound, crypto trade Uniswap and stablecoin issuer MakerDao are building significant income and turning into extra and much more preferred.

They are dominated by eccentric geniuses these as Uniswap creator Hayden Adams and MakerDao’s Rune Christensen, who have unconventional backgrounds and voracious appetites for possibility. It will search like an attractive landing internet site for burned-out tech gurus trying to rekindle their optimism.

As I often say to my pupils, we are residing in an age of acceleration, exactly where technology is producing at a amount faster than what any specific can maintain up with. To survive this, we will need a new way of pondering about know-how.

Silicon Valley CEOs like Jack Dorsey were the catalysts for this period, and now they also have to adapt and reinvent the very globe they developed. Dorsey has the edge that he has had a single foot in this new camp for some time. His departure does not give me a terrific deal of self-assurance in common social media, but it could give additional impetus to crypto and tech start out-ups.

This write-up is republished from The Discussion less than a Innovative Commons license. Examine the initial write-up.

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