Embattled Twitter chief Dorsey reconsiders Africa move amid coronavirus concerns


FILE PHOTO: Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and fin-tech firm Square, sits for a portrait during an interview with Reuters in London, Britain, June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said on Thursday he is reconsidering a planned stint in Africa this year in light of concerns around the coronavirus outbreak, announcing the decision amid a call by activist investor Elliott Management for his ouster.

“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,” Dorsey said, speaking at a Morgan Stanley investor conference.

Dorsey tweeted in November that he was planning to move to Africa for three to six months in mid-2020, as he was wrapping up a shorter trip through the continent.

The tweet raised concerns among investors over how Dorsey would continue to run San Francisco-based Twitter and mobile payments company Square (SQ.N), which he also leads, from afar. This week, activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp moved to remove Dorsey from his position at Twitter after acquiring a $1 billion stake in the company.

Dorsey said Thursday that he had made a mistake in tweeting about Africa because he had failed to explain his reasons for wanting to spend time there, which include Africa’s growing population and his belief in the benefits of a “distributed model” of work across time zones.

“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,” Dorsey said. “We’ll keep people better updated and next time we give updates on this I’ll explain all the ‘whys’ as well and give much deeper context into it,” he said.

Dorsey also said he has a “good sense of what is critical” in both Twitter and Square and “enough flexibility” in his schedule to focus on the most important priorities at each.

Twitter’s shares were down 2.8% at $35.00 in afternoon trading, amid a deep selloff on Wall Street.

Twitter said on Monday that it was encouraging employees around the globe to work from home, citing risks related to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco and Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler


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