Jack Dorsey to “reconsider” Africa move amid coronavirus, ousting attempts

By Lucy Ingham

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said that he plans to “reconsider” his planned six-month visit to Africa, citing the coronavirus as a key concern.

Dorsey made the comments during a session at Morgan Stanley’s Tech, Media and Telecom Conference on Thursday in San Francisco.

“[With] everything happening in the world, particularly with coronavirus, I have to reconsider what’s going on and what that means for me and for our company,” he said.

While Jack Dorsey only named the coronavirus as an issue, many have speculated that he is also referring to the current attempts by activist hedge fund Elliott Management to oust him as CEO, which has cast doubt on the viability of his Africa plans.

Jack Dorsey clarifies Africa plans

In November 2019, Dorsey tweeted that he planned to live in Africa “for 3-6 months” in mid-2020, leading to concerns that he was disregarding his duties as CEO.

However, during the session yesterday, Dorsey clarified his plans, saying that he had “made a mistake” by not explaining why he intended to spend such an extended period in the continent.

“There are two reasons I’m interested in the continent. The first is that it will be one of the most populated continents over the next 20, 30 years. It has a very, very young population, and the technology adoption is moving very, very quickly. And we need to understand that,” he said, adding that China and Facebook were both investing heavily in the continent.

“This is a continent that promises amazing opportunity and we have a lot of usage in today, and it’s going to be moving very, very quickly.

“Second, I do believe fully in this concept of figuring out how to work in a distributed model. So my intention is not to go over and just hang out or take a sabbatical, but actually, everything I’m doing in San Francisco, doing on another continent.

“If we can figure out how to not be burdened by time zones and instead take advantage of them in our development model and increase the pace of our execution, that’s a huge win.”

Jack Dorsey, remote work and the coronavirus

Dorsey spoke extensively about the potential and benefits of remote work during the session, citing Twitter’s own plans on the subject.

He said that while the company had decided to make remote work a requirement due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Twitter has been building its remote work support plans for a far longer period.

“We’ve been talking about decentralising the company for quite some time. What that means is moving to a much more distributed working model, inclusive of people working from home, but working around the world throughout our offices,” he said.

“I do think it’s important, and I’m sure many of you have talked with newer companies. Every single entrepreneur I speak to these days around the world is starting their company with an intention of being fully distributed and fully remote.

“So this is a newer expectation entering in the workforce that I do want to work from home, I don’t want to work in San Francisco. I don’t want to have to travel to work for this company. I don’t want to uproot my family to go work for this company. And the technology finally exists for us to do this.

“So it’s unfortunate that this crisis has forced us into this, but really fortunate that we’re prepared to do so.”

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