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Twitter hack raises questions about Jack Dorsey’s role at company


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey 


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was silent as his company’s service descended into bedlam on Wednesday. As critics, commentators and journalists known as on Dorsey to do one thing, hackers romped over the accounts of distinguished Americans — together with Elon Musk, Barack Obama and Joe Biden — and tweeted out blatant cryptocurrency scams. The company accounts of main firms — Apple and Uber — tweeted related messages. When Twitter received management of an affected account, it did not take lengthy for the attackers to wrestle it again.

The company lastly settled the scenario after resorting to excessive measures: disabling a big chunk of the service. Dorsey’s first feedback got here 4 hours after the assault began, a jarring hole for the lightning-fast tempo of knowledge consumption he helped to create.

“Tough day for us at Twitter,” Dorsey tweeted. “We all feel terrible this happened.”

It’s by no means time to have what might be the worst day in your company’s historical past. But for Dorsey, who’s generated a cult of persona in Silicon Valley, Twitter’s clumsy response comes at a very difficult second. Both Twitter’s role in shaping public discourse and Dorsey’s deal with on the company are being questioned.

With the US presidential election looming, the integrity and safety of social media platforms is already beneath the glare of an intense highlight. Dorsey has invited extra scrutiny of Twitter by stepping out on a political limb, taking a tough stance on President Donald Trump’s tweets and flagging some for deceptive info and inciting violence. The transfer set Twitter aside from Facebook, which left Trump’s posts alone. (Facebook has since reconsidered its insurance policies). It noticed Dorsey being lionized by progressives and demonized by conservatives.

Inside Twitter, Dorsey has confronted a flurry of palace intrigue. Earlier this yr, Elliott Management, an activist fund with a large stake in Twitter, known as for Dorsey to focus his consideration on Twitter or depart. The agency’s calls for included Dorsey stepping down as CEO or relinquishing the identical title at Square, the funds company he helped discovered. In March, Elliott stood down on making an attempt to eliminate Dorsey, however it nonetheless has a presence on the board and is understood for biding its time.

Eliott Management declined to touch upon the hack. Twitter declined to touch upon Dorsey’s management and would not make him obtainable for an interview. Twitter has mentioned the assault might have been the results of hackers going after Twitter staff who had entry to inner instruments. Around 130 accounts might have been focused. The FBI is reportedly investigating the incident. 

The hack, nevertheless, may gas the drive to power Dorsey to focus his consideration.

“His position has always been a little precarious. It is very hard to retain being CEO of two organizations,” mentioned David Yoffie, a professor of enterprise administration at the Harvard Business School. “This incident is probably more damaging to his personal reputation because of his split focus.”

Dorsey has defended his double responsibility at Twitter and Square prior to now. “I have enough flexibility in my schedule to focus on the most important things, and I have a good sense of what is critical on both companies,” he mentioned at a Morgan Stanley occasion in March.

Even although Dorsey appears to have the assist of his board, a high-profile catastrophe like Wednesday’s breach may trigger the company’s administrators to at least take into account adjustments, mentioned Christine Mooney, a professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Business. 

“It’s something the board will have to assess,” Mooney mentioned. “Could this have been prevented if he only dedicated his time to this one major company?”

There’s one shiny spot for Dorsey. Later this month, the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are anticipated to testify earlier than a House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. Twitter, which does not face the identical antitrust criticism as the opposite firms, is not attending. While the topic of the congressional grilling is market competitors, the politicians will undoubtedly veer into different matters, corresponding to election integrity, political bias and platform safety.

After the hack, Dorsey is probably going particularly grateful he will not be becoming a member of his Big Tech counterparts within the scorching seat. He took his flip at a pair of hearings two years in the past, and it is not out of the query for him to face congressional scrutiny for Wednesday’s hack someday sooner or later.  

“If you were in his shoes,” Harvard’s Yoffie mentioned, “you would probably be delighted to not be on the list.”

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