Trading in Twitter halted with Jack Dorsey expected to quit as chief

Trading in Twitter’s stock was halted on Monday as one person close to the company said that Jack Dorsey, the founder of the social network, is planning to step down as chief executive.

The decision to quit comes nearly two years after Dorsey reached a truce with activist investor Elliott Management, which had tried to oust him. It was unclear who would replace him.

Shares in the company jumped 10 per cent in pre-market trading, which was halted shortly after the news broke on CNBC.

Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and its staffers said they had not been told the news.

Dorsey also serves as chief executive at Square, a mobile payments group that he founded in 2009.

Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund with a 4 per cent stake in Twitter, tried to remove Dorsey last year due to concerns that his split responsibilities would affect leadership at the social media company.

“I have enough flexibility in my schedule to focus on the most important things and I have a good sense of what is critical in both companies,” Dorsey told the Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco in March.

Elliott previously expressed concern at Dorsey’s leadership style and plans to spend at least half his year in Africa exploring opportunities in cryptocurrencies, a trip that was later cancelled.

But it was agreed by a committee of stakeholders that Dorsey could stay in place if he met challenging performance targets.

Dorsey co-founded Twitter in 2006 and served as chief executive until 2008, when prominent board member Fred Wilson declared him unfit to lead the company.

The board reportedly cited Dorsey’s habits of leaving early to attend yoga classes as one of the reasons for the move. Dorsey stayed on as chair but returned to Twitter as chief executive in 2015, after his predecessor Dick Costolo resigned.

Twitter’s advertising revenues grew 14 per cent last year to $2.99bn, a slowdown from the 24 per cent growth of the previous year. Dorsey owns a 13 per cent stake in Square, compared with his 2 per cent stake in Twitter.

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