Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

Twitter co-founder Williams to leave company

Move comes after 13 years with social-media firm since launch and he is now chief executive of his own web publisher

Evan Williams is leaving Twitter, the social media firm he co-founded. AFP
Evan Williams is leaving Twitter, the social media firm he co-founded. AFP

Twitter co-founder Evan Williams will step down from the company’s board at the end of February.

“It’s been an incredible 13 years, and I’m proud of what Twitter has accomplished during my time with the company,” Mr Williams, 46, now chief executive of web publisher Medium, said on Friday in a company filing.

Mr Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone started the San Francisco-based social media company in 2006 that is known for its original 140-character limit on messages. He served in various roles, including chief executive, chief product officer and chairman before giving up day-to-day responsibilities in late 2010, according to Bloomberg. He started Medium in 2012. Twitter went public in 2013.

Mr Williams, in a tweet, thanked Mr Dorsey and Mr Stone for “starting this crazy company with me - and continuing to make it better and better.”

The company has suffered from comparisons with Facebook, and at about 321 million monthly average users, has far fewer users than the social-media giant. Mr Dorsey, who had left the company, returned as chief executive in 2015. To regain the backing of investors, he has focused on turning Twitter into a destination for live conversation and events. Mr Dorsey has also prioritised improving the quality of conversation on the service and making it easier to use.

Mr Williams ceded his role as Twitter chief executive to Dick Costolo in 2010, according to AFP.

Mr Dorsey said in a Tweet that Mr Williams was the reason he joined start-up Odeo, an endeavour that led to him, Mr Williams and MrStone creating Twitter.

"I appreciate you, Ev!" Mr Dorsey tweeted.

"We're going to miss your voice in our board conversations."

Donald Trump’s presidency has heightened Twitter’s global relevance, as users turn to the platform to read his thoughts and missives. Mr Trump’s use of the service has spurred more criticism of the company, with some saying the president has been allowed to make abusive and disparaging remarks - without penalty - that violate the platform’s terms of service.

Twitter also has been plagued by hate speech, harassment, fake accounts and the spread of false news. The service, along with Facebook and Google’s YouTube, was manipulated by Russian operatives who disseminated misinformation during the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Williams has apologised previously for Twitter’s potential role in helping Mr Trump get elected, adding that the election results underscored his concern that social-media platforms are helping to “dumb the entire world down”.

Updated: February 24, 2019 02:17 PM