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Agrawal appointed Twitter CEO, Dorsey resigns

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Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s former chief technology officer has been announced as the new chief executive officer (CEO) and a member of the board of the company.

This followed an announcement yesterday by Jack Dorsey, 45, who co-founded the company in 2006, that he was stepping down from his role as CEO.
Dorsey’s announcement prompted wild swings in the social media platform’s share price.

Posting on the social media platform, Sky News quoted him to have written, “finally time for me to leave”, explaining in a statement from Twitter itself that it was, “because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders”.
Agrawal, said he was “honoured and humbled” by the appointment.

“Deep gratitude for @jack and our entire team, and so much excitement for the future. Here’s the note I sent to the company. Thank you all for your trust and support,” the new CEO Twitted.

Shares in the social media platform rose nine per cent on market opening on Monday morning following a report by CNBC that Dorsey was to leave his role.

Trading was halted on the New York Stock Exchange after the spike, but shares resumed trading with a gain of more than 4.5 per cent ahead of where they started the day.

However the gains later fell away and the stock closed two per cent below its opening price.

Dorsey will remain the chief executive of financial payments company, Square, which has a market capitalisation of over $98 billion (£73 billion) compared to Twitter’s $38 billion (£28 billion).

Dorsey faced ousting last year when Twitter stakeholder Paul Singer, the found of Elliott Management, publicly questioned his ability to run both companies at the same time.

The investment firm eventually reached a deal with Twitter’s management.

“It is no surprise to see Jack Dorsey stepping down as chief executive of Twitter. There has been disquiet for some time among shareholders at Dorsey serving in that role and also at Square, the fintech payments company he co-founded, with Paul Singer – the head of the influential activist investor Elliott Management – having called in the recent past for him to step down at Twitter,” the report stated.

Dorsey made peace with Singer on that occasion by giving Elliott and its ally, the private equity firm Silver lake, seats on the Twitter board.
But ultimately the arrangement was unsustainable and given the comparative size of the two businesses, with Square valued at $97 billion and Twitter at just $37 billion, it was obvious which one he would opt for if made to choose between the two.

Moreover, Square is becoming an infinitely more demanding business to manage, with Dorsey recently announcing plans for the company to look into running an open-source Bitcoin mining system.

Something had to give and just about the only significant obstacle to Mr Dorsey stepping down at Twitter was the need to find his successor.
It seems that hurdle has now been cleared.

Following the announcement, executives at Elliott said in a statement on the appointment of Agrawal and new chairman Bret Taylor that they were “confident that they are the right leaders for Twitter at this pivotal moment for the company”.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ”Such has been the consternation surrounding Jack Dorsey’s ‘part-time’ role as CEO of Twitter, that it’s little surprise investors initially reacted positively to speculation that he was leaving the platform.
“But the initial euphoria fizzled out, as the new pick for the driving seat, Parag Agrawal, the current chief technology officer, appeared to underwhelm investors.

“The realisation of the mountain to scale and some disappointment that a Twitter outsider hasn’t been brought in to offer fresh ideas, is likely to be behind the loss of initial gains.”

Agrawal is an engineer who worked his way up over the past decade to become the company’s technology chief.

Agrawal had been Jack Dorsey’s closest partner in thinking about the future of the Twitter platform and decentralising social media, a former company executive told CNBC.

“He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs,” Dorsey wrote, in a letter to employees.

Dorsey has 5.9 million Twitter followers. Agrawal had roughly 24,000 earlier in the day, though that number soared past 100,000 by late morning Pacific time.

Agrawal will be running a company with over 5,500 people, up from fewer than 1,000 when he arrived.

Early in his tenure at the company, Agrawal began standing out as part of the advertising unit. He integrated machine learnings models into the ads and timeline products, moves that proved highly valuable in Twitter’s growth, said Gopal Rajpurohit, who worked on Twitter ads as a software engineer from 2012 until 2018.

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BUSINESS

Stock futures fall ahead of a big week of retail earnings

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Stock futures fell early on Monday after a week of steep losses that ended on a high note, and ahead of a big earnings week for retailers.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 31 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.47%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.71%.

On Friday, the Dow rose 466.36 points, or 1.47%, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.39%. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.82% and posted its strongest one-day gain since November 2020. Still, all three averages posted losing weeks.

The gains came as investors went into relief rally mode to cap off a bad week for stocks in which the S&P 500 nearly descended into bear market territory.

It remains to be seen, however, how long the rally will last or how much further stocks have to fall before this year’s downtrend bottoms.

“Given the history of bear markets, coupled with the fact that the Fed has just begun its rate hike cycle and would like to see financial conditions continue to tighten so that demand pulls back further, this rally will most likely weaken,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

Still, some investors and analysts say, whether or not the bottom is in, there are good buying opportunities at the market’s current lows.

“I’m not calling the bottom here, but there’s some opportunity here to dollar cost average,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, told CNBC. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of cash, you’re locking in losses because of inflation. Investing in equities or asset classes that you believe in… it is the lesser evil. The selling fatigue will wane, the market will reset. It’s unlikely the Dow and the S&P are going to be in correction territory six months to a year from now.”

Retail earnings season kicks off this week with several big-box retailers set to report results for the first quarter, including Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Elsewhere, Deere is also on deck, along with a handful of technology companies.

Investors will also have their eye on retail sales data this week, which could give them insight into how retailers are managing inflation, which remains near 40-year highs.

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BUSINESS

Nigeria issues new guidelines on cryptocurrencies 

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The Nigerian government has released new guidelines aimed at protecting investors in digital assets as trades in cryptocurrencies get boost in Africa’s most populous nation.

The rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers more clarity on trading in cryptocurrencies, it was learnt.

The rules cover “issuance, offering platforms and custody of digital assets” for virtual technologies, according to a statement on its website.

This is coming amidst controversy over the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Nigerian financial ecosystem.

Despite order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to stop transactions in cryptocurrencies, Nigeria is said to account for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S., as data from Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace reveals.

Experts however believe this would go a long way in boosting trading in cryptocurrencies which is gaining global traction.

The new rules cover the issuance of digital assets as securities, the registration of platforms and digital asset custodians, exchanges and virtual assets service providers.

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BUSINESS

Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company

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Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm.

Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars. Apple, which fell more than 5% during trading in the U.S. on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion.

Energy stocks and prices have been rising as investors sell off equities in several industries, including technology, on fears of a deteriorating economic environment. Apple has fallen nearly 20% since its $182.94 peak on Jan. 4.

The move is mostly symbolic, but it shows how markets are shifting as the global economy grapples with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain problems.

Aramco stock is up over 27% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to soaring oil prices.

Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2020.

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