Twitter has appointed Parag Agrawal as its new CEO. Agrawal is taking over the baton from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Twitter will join the long list of U.S. companies that are led by people of Indian origin. How many Indian CEOs are there in the U.S. and what makes Indians among the most successful immigrants in the country?
Agrawal’s appointment as Twitter’s CEO was a big surprise, just like Dorsey stepping down. In 2020, Dorsey managed to keep his position as Twitter’s CEO despite activist investor Elliott Management pushing for his ouster. In 2021, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos stepped down as the company’s CEO and handed over the post to Andy Jassy.
How many Indian CEOs are there in the U.S.?
According to a study by the Global Indian Times, which was published in October 2021, there are Indian CEOs at 44 U.S. companies. If we add Twitter, the number rises to 45. Apart from the currently serving CEOs, several Indian-origin CEOs have led U.S. companies in the past as well. Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga are among the best-known Indian-origin CEOs who have retired.
Indians lead some of the best-known U.S. tech companies.
Some of the best-known U.S. tech companies are led by Indian CEOs, including:
- Twitter is led by Parag Agrawal
- Alphabet is led by Sundar Pichai
- Microsoft is led by Satya Nadella
- QuantumScape is led by Jagdeep Singh
- Palo Alto Networks is led by Nikesh Arora
- Arista Networks is led by Jayshree Ullal
- Adobe is led by Shantanu Narayen
- IBM is led by Arvind Krishna
- Micron is led by Sanjay Mehrotra
- VMWare is led by Raghu Raghuraman
- Vimeo is led by Anjali Sud
Sud was born in the U.S. but is of Indian origin. Apart from the above-mentioned companies, people of Indian origin occupy key positions in many other U.S. companies including Berkshire Hathaway. It was widely believed that Ajit Jain would succeed Warren Buffett at Berkshire but Buffett decided to hand over the baton to Greg Abel.
How have Indian CEOs performed in the U.S?
It's tough to make an objective assessment of how Indian CEOs have performed in the U.S. However, Indian-origin CEOs have many a lasting impression in two companies—Alphabet and Microsoft. Under Pichai’s leadership, Alphabet joined the ranks of $2 trillion companies.
Microsoft also briefly became the world’s largest company ahead of Apple under Nadella’s leadership. More than the price action, the transformation and the valuation multiple rerating that these companies have seen under Indian CEOs are noteworthy.
Microsoft is a much different business now than it was before Nadella. The company acquired LinkedIn under his leadership and also doubled down on high-growth businesses like AI and cloud. The transformation received a boost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a rise in sales of the office suite of products led by a spike in sales of personal computers.
Parag Agrawal needs to turn Twitter around.
Agrawal is joining Twitter at a time when the stock is languishing near its 52-week lows. Markets don’t seem too impressed with his appointment and Twitter stock closed with losses on news of Dorsey stepping down. Twitter has been facing allegations of suppressing conservative and right-wing voices across the globe.
In the U.S., Twitter banned former President Donald Trump and attracted the ire of his followers. In India, the company has been at loggerheads with the ruling party because it deleted accounts of some individuals close to the party.
Agrawal will need to turn Twitter around and establish its credentials as an independent platform. He also has to address the slowing user growth. With a lot of conservative users turning to alternate platforms like Parler, and Trump launching his own social media, Agrawal will have a bumpy ride as Twitter’s CEO.