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Jack Dorsey, the billionaire Twitter CEO, is known for delegating and limiting distractions. Here's an in-depth look at his managing style.

Jack Dorsey
  • Twitter CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey has increased the company's revenue and users, but some critics, including activist shareholder Elliott Management, have argued that his leadership style is too slow compared with competitors.
  • Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dorsey has accelerated his decision-making.
  • He announced that many Twitter employees could make their remote-working arrangements permanent, and after years of criticism that Twitter had not acted to correct misleading or false statements on its platform by prominent politicians, Twitter began fact-checking President Trump's tweets.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the opposite side of the issue from Twitter and Dorsey, saying that Facebook is not an "arbiter of truth."
  • Dorsey is escalating the confrontation rather than backing down, responding to Trump's order and Zuckerberg's comments by flagging tweets from both Trump and the White House as "glorifying violence."
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In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Twitter CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey has made two bold decisions for a tech industry titan: allowing employees to permanently work remote and flagging a tweet from the president.
In mid-May, Dorsey told employees working from home during the pandemic that they could continue to do so indefinitely. His offer was significantly more generous than those at the company's tech rivals Facebook and Amazon, which have allowed employees to work from home until the fall.
Then on May 27, after years of wrestling with whether to allow politicians to post tweets that violate the platform's rules, Twitter took the momentous step of adding a fact-check label to a tweet sent by President Donald Trump. Critics have also long said Dorsey has failed to curb Twitter's rampant harassment and misinformation problems.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly made clear that he disagreed with the decision.
"We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this," he told Fox News. "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth."
Dorsey responded by saying the actions were consistent with Twitter's "civic-integrity" policy.
Dorsey's brash decision-making fits with his overall leadership style: driving his companies with an overarching mission in mind. The CEO has increased Twitter's revenue and users over the past two years, which undoubtedly helped its revenue exceed $1 billion for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2019, an impressive feat considering that Dorsey has said he runs companies on "missions" rather than quarterly goals.
On the other hand, critics have argued that besides the issue of how Twitter polices speech (or doesn't), Dorsey just delegates too much. Maybe that started to change in May.

The Elliott affair in March, and Dorsey starting to move fast in May

In early March, just before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, Elliott Management Corp. built a $1 billion stake in Twitter and went activist, as it is wont to do, pushing the idea of removing Dorsey from the helm, according to Bloomberg. The hedge fund wanted a full-time CEO, not someone splitting his time between two C-suites — Dorsey is simultaneously the CEO of Twitter and Square.
Twitter ultimately entered into a cooperation agreement in which it named Elliott partner Jesse Cohn to its board while raising a $1 billion investment from the private-equity firm Silver Lake.
Twitter might make a fraction of the money Facebook makes, but it outperforms other social-media platforms like Snapchat, which has never been profitable.
And all of a sudden in May, Dorsey started moving faster. His decision to fact-check Trump in particular follows years of criticism that Twitter wasn't doing enough to police its platform. And Dorsey's mission-based approach is evident in how he has gone about doing so.
First, Twitter fact-checked Trump tweets that claimed mail-in ballots in California were "substantially fraudulent" and would result in a "Rigged Election" and linked to a "Moments" page titled "Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud" that listed facts contradicting his claims. Trump responded angrily to this action rooted in Twitter's mission, as defined by Dorsey, first by threatening to shut down social-media platforms and then signing an executive order to inspect internet-platform regulations.
Just a day later, Twitter placed a click-through block on a Trump tweet that it said was "glorifying violence." This was for a reason entirely different from why Twitter put the tags on Trump's mail-in ballot tweets, as the block had to do with Trump's comments about violence in Minneapolis following the death on Monday of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a white police officer had pinned him to the ground by the neck for several minutes.
Dorsey is keeping his company's mission first and foremost — and he's starting to move fast, just like Elliott wanted.
Here's an in-depth look at Dorsey's management strategies for running Twitter and Square.

'True invention doesn't happen in a single person's head'

Dorsey took over as CEO of Twitter in 2015 after being ousted as chief executive in 2008 by cofounder Evan Williams.
In interviews, Dorsey has defined his leadership style as delegating decisions to other teams, running on "missions" rather than quarterly goals, and managing time evenly to run both Square and Twitter. Dorsey has said he sees his style as beneficial to Twitter's overall impact, while Elliott saw the same traits as hindering the company's ability to grow, sources close to the hedge fund told Bloomberg.
Elliott saw Dorsey's lack of control over Twitter as a reason that the company makes decisions more slowly than competitors do. The decision to double Twitter's character limit took "years," for instance, and the company has struggled for years to ward off online harassment.
Twitter reported 145 million monthly active users in late 2019, up 17% year over year. Facebook has billions of users but reported just 2.5% year-over-year growth in North America.
Unlike Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, Dorsey has clarified that he deliberately refrains from micromanagement.
Dorsey said he takes a hands-off approach to management, believing that a leader doesn't need to be involved with every decision. For the company to remain sustainable in the long term, Dorsey encourages his team to operate meetings without him.
"If I have to make a decision, I believe there is something wrong organizationally, and it's on me to fix it," Dorsey told Bloomberg in 2019. "And what that does is decentralize decision-making, so we don't have dependency on one person, including myself."
Dorsey's decentralized methods extend beyond decision-making. Rather than closing himself off in a corner office, Dorsey works side by side with engineers, and meets one-on-one with employees at nearby coffee shops, according to Barron's Jon Swartz. Last year, Dorsey embarked on a global tour of every Twitter office, with the purpose of introducing himself to every employee.
"I just don't think that's scalable. I don't think that's healthy, and I don't think it's going to lead to true invention," Dorsey said of micromanaging at a FinTech Australia breakfast in 2019. "True invention doesn't happen in a single person's head."

Dorsey runs his business around a mission, rather than goals

Dorsey said in 2019 that he'd pass on a "superstar" hire in favor of one that was devoted to Twitter or Square's mission.
At the FinTech Australia breakfast, the CEO said he would ask job applicants why they wanted to work for Square. If someone mentioned a personal reason, like a family member who owned a small business but couldn't take credit cards, he said he'd hand them a job.
Dorsey extends his "conviction-focused" theory beyond hiring. He told Bloomberg that it was "rare" to do anything important in a quarter; rather, real change takes three to five years.
"If we get too concrete around a particular vision or direction, a new technology might come along that completely makes what we thought was right irrelevant," Dorsey said.

Some say Dorsey's role as the CEO of 2 companies can distract him from the day-to-day of running a company

Since Dorsey splits his time running Square and Twitter, he capitalizes on every spare moment. The dual CEO holds "highly regimented" meetings and sticks to a specific agenda, Swartz reported. He holds weekly check-ins and meetings at the same time on the same day each week.
And he even situated his two companies across from each other on the same San Francisco street so that his commute to and from each headquarters is just two minutes by foot.
"I benefit from No. 1, a lot of structure, No. 2, realizing it's not about the amount of time I spend at one thing but how I spend the time and what we're focused on," Dorsey said at The New York Times DealBook conference in 2017.
Sources at Elliott told Bloomberg that they felt his dual role kept the focus away from Twitter. Former employees told Business Insider in 2017 that while Dorsey could get closely involved with projects and come up with big ideas, he struggles with everything else.
"He's comfortable high in the clouds and deep in the weeds," a former employee said. "It's the in-between that gets him tripped up."
SEE ALSO: How Mike Bloomberg's 'first guy in' management style drives a 'cult-like' work culture — and a $62 billion fortune
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