A CEO’s internal communication often sets the standard for the way a company communicates.
Today Twitter’s Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced his intention to leave the company, by, you guessed it, Tweeting.
In his Tweet, he shared an email he sent to Twitter’s employees today (0 minutes ago according to the timestamp, which given the time of his Tweet means he hit send with the screen grab three minutes after telling employees first).
Smart move sharing the news internally first – always a golden rule of effective internal communication.
I’ve shared the email below as I think it’s a strong example of CEO internal communication in action.
After almost 16 years of having a role at our company… from co-founder to CEO to Chair to Exec Chair to interim-CEO to CEO… I decided it’s finally time for me to leave. Why?
There’s a lot of talk about the importance of a company being “founder-led.” Ultimately, I believe that’s severely limited and a singe point of failure. I’ve worked hard to ensure this company can break away from its founding and founders. There are 3 reasons I believe now is the right time.
The first is Parag becoming our CEO. The board ran a rigorous process considering all options and unanimously appointed Parag. He’s been my choice for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs. Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily. My trust in him as our CEO is bone deep.
The second is Bret Taylor agreeing to become our board chair. I asked Bret to join our board when I became CEO, and he’s been excellent in every way. He understands entrepreneurship, taking risks, companies at massive scale, technology, product and he’s an engineer. All of the things the board and the company deserve right now. Having Bret in this leadership role gives me a lot of confidence in the strength of our board going forward. You have no idea how happy this makes me!
The third is all of you. We have a lot of ambition and potential on this team. Consider this: Parag started here as an engineer who cared deeply about our work and now he’s our CEO (I also had a similar path… he did it better!). This alone makes me proud. I know that Parag will be able to channel this energy best because he’s lived it and knows what it takes. All of you have the potential to change the course of this company for the better. I believe this with all my heart!
Parag is CEO starting today. I’m going to serve on the board through my term (May-ish) to help Parag and Bret with the transition. And after that… I’ll leave the board. Why not stay or become chair? I believe it’s really important to give Parag the space he needs to lead. And back to my previous point, I believe it’s critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder’s influence or direction.
I want you all to know that this was my decision and I own it. It was a tough one for me, of course. I love this service and this company… and all of you so much. I’m really sad… yet really happy. There aren’t many companies that get to this level. And there aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego. I know we’ll prove this was the right move.
We’ll have an all-hands meeting tomorrow at 9:05am Pacific to discuss it all. Until then, thank you all for the trust you’ve placed in me, and for the openness to build that trust in Parag and yourselves. I love you all.
PS I’m tweeting this email. My one wish is for Twitter Inc to be the most transparent company in the world. Hi mom!”
What I think of this message
I just typed the message above from his Tweet. In doing so, it felt like a stream of consciousness.
What stands out to me:
- The Tweet implies the news was shared internally first. Marvellous.
- It confirms Jack’s decision making process.
- There is a sense of confidence in the future leadership of the organisation, with kind words being shared about Parag and Bret.
- The tone is informal, with asides and humour throughout.
- It’s structured into three points, which as we know is ideal for simplicity and a cohesive structure.
- The note addresses concerns and anticipated employee questions head-on. It has more detail that one would expect at this stage, and is a wise move.
- Clarity is given re: why the decision was made, what will happen today, what will happen next, and even an expected end date (May-ish).
- His mixed feelings come across in a genuine way: “I’m really sad… yet really happy.”
- It signposts towards a place where employees can find out more, which is the all-hands meeting tomorrow.
- I’d loved to have seen employees listed as point one, rather than point three, but it’s entirely appropriate given the context of the subject matter to address the leadership queries first.
I have no idea whether this is something Jack wrote alone or with the help of his Comms team, but it’s a strong example of CEO internal communication in action.
I thought I would share it with All Things IC’s readers to help you counsel your leaders if you are working with stakeholders who feel they have to be super formal in their messages.
Informal, written-from-the-heart internal communication has the power to resonate with employees.
Twitter has connected me with a world of internal communicators around the globe, since I first started Tweeting in 2009. My company name was born out of my Twitter handle, which I changed to @AllThingsIC in 2010 when I got married. It then became my business’ name in 2013 when I founded the company.
I’ve been writing about internal communication via this blog for nearly 13 years and have published 1600 blog posts in that time.
This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a CEO communication and I wish Jack the best of luck for the future.
Update: Parag has also shared his own note via Twitter. It opens larger.
Post author: Rachel Miller, Founder, All Things IC
First published on the All Things IC blog 29 November 2021.