From Geek Fashion Model to Big-Tech Gandalf — Jack Dorsey's Rise and Fall
18:26 GMT 29.11.2021 (Updated: 18:40 GMT 19.10.2022)
Jack Dorsey founded social networking site Twitter 15 years ago, and in just over six years had achieved billionaire status with the firm's stock market floatation. But now the midwestern computer geek looks set to retreat back into obscurity as he hands over control to fellow executive Parag Agrawal.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is taking early retirement at the tender age of 45. But where did the esoteric Big Tech tycoon come from?
While Twitter's stock market bounce on news of his resignation as CEO on Monday shows 330 million users certainly can be wrong, the social networking site is still a prime example of a tech sector 'unicorn' — growing from a bright idea to a billion-dollar empire in a few years.
Dorsey is typical of the exclusive club of big-tech uber-geek billionaires. Like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell, he dropped out of college after realising he could make big bucks in the IT sector.
Born in St Louis, Missouri in 1976, Dorsey's earliest job was as an occasional child fashion model. But by the age of 14 he developed a dorkier interest in programming dispatch software used by taxi firms.
He enrolled at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 1995 and transferred to New York university in 1997, but dropped out in 1999.
The Little Blue Bird Hatches
The young tech-head moved to Oakland, California in 2000 to set up a company to sell his dispatch programmes. It was there that he came up with the idea of adding the feature of instant, short-form messaging to the software. Dorsey approached Silicon Valley company Odeo, now defunct, with the concept.
"He came to us with this idea: 'What if you could share your status with all your friends really easily, so they know what you're doing?'" said former Odeo executive Biz Stone.
The two teamed up with Odeo co-founder Evan Williams to set up a side company called Obvious, and within two weeks Dorsey had coded a website where users could share 14-character messages dubbed "tweets". What later became Twitter was born.
Dorsey sent the world's first official tweet on On March 21, 2006, writing with typical social media banality: "just setting up my twttr."
The cyber-dweeb really hit paydirt in November 2013 when his company was floated on the stock market. The share price jumped from its initial offer of $26 to $45, nudging the value of his 23.4 million shares just over the $1 billion mark.
Trump Tweets and Laptop Lockdown
The outgoing CEO has some esoteric beliefs. He is a follower of Indian Buddhist mediation guru S. N. Goenka and his Vipassanā method. He spent his 42nd birthday in 2018 on a meditation retreat in Myanmar.
But Dorsey's politics also became apparent in 2019 when he contributed to the Democratic primary campaigns of Tulsi Gubbard and fellow tech businessman Andrew Yang. Neither candidate got far, but the stage was set for more controversial developments.
In October 2020, both Twitter and Facebook began banning all mention of the scandal of Democrat candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter's recently-discovered 'Laptop from Hell'. Twitter even suspended the account of the New York Post newspaper for a fortnight for breaking the story.
Then on January 6, Twitter banned sitting president Donald Trump's account — one of the most famous on the site — just as he was urging supporters besieging the US Capitol building to remain peaceful, obey police and go home.
Dorsey emerged from COVID-19 lockdown isolation in March this year for Congressional hearings on the role social media in protests. Appearing virtually from his kitchen, the CEO's appearance sitting drew comment, for his buzz-cut hair and a long white Gandalf-style beard.
Since then he has been outspoken on an eclectic range of political issues.
Will Trump celebrate the exit of his nemesis, or will Dorsey return to the limelight with some new venture?