Paskalis said that Dorsey seemed to grasp the importance of Twitter as a “town square” and the responsibility that placed on the company, and brands, to make it a safer place. Dorsey was trying to lead Twitter to a new beginning after the platform had earned a reputation as a place of widespread harassment and abuse. The perception was one of the biggest problems holding back user growth and advertiser demand.
Paskalis and others credit Dorsey with listening to advertisers and taking steps to implement brand safety controls and community standards. “He’s stabilized the platform,” Paskalis said.
In 2016, Dorsey’s first full year as CEO, Twitter generated $2.5 billion in revenue, mostly from advertising. This year, Twitter is expected to top $5 billion in revenue, according to its quarterly financial reports and forecasts. In comparison to Facebook, Google and Amazon, Twitter is very much still a niche social media platform, competing with Pinterest and Snapchat for brand dollars. Facebook, now named Meta, generated almost $85 billion in ad revenue last year. Twitter has been held back in part because of its “town square,” which is a compelling place to consume news and shared interests, but it also can present risks for brands.
However, Twitter and Dorsey have received credit for taking hard positions in politically turbulent waters. Twitter was the first platform to ban former President Donald Trump’s account. That was a risky decision given Trump’s popularity with a large core of Twitter users, and a potentially damaging one for Twitter’s engagement rates. In 2019, Twitter also banned political ads, even when some of its peers were reluctant to go that far.
It’s unclear though how involved Dorsey was in making the hardest decisions for the platform. Twitter’s team, which included the new CEO Agrawal, were making some of those calls behind the scenes. A former Twitter employee, who was close to Dorsey, said that sometimes he was not active in the most political decisions. As the “visionary “ leader of Twitter, Dorsey was often running his other company Square, away on meditation retreats, and philosophizing about the next-generation of crypto-technology, this person said. “There were moments when Jack was out of pocket,” the Twitter alum said. He also didn’t “give a shit about advertising,” this person said, and Dorsey had to be prodded to take part in some of the more official duties as CEO of a multibillion-dollar ad company.