It was a routine earnings call on October 27 at the Twitter India office in Gurugram. Jack Dorsey, the chief executive officer of the company had just informed his shareholders that Twitter had grown its user base to 317 million, adding 4 million users, or 3% over the previous quarter. Dorsey also announced a restructuring, or as Twitter called it, a “headcount reduction of 9% of global workforce”. The mood was bittersweet. Twitter had just announced its third consecutive quarter where revenue grew and while the cheers were on, there was also concern about the restructuring that was to follow.
Soon after the earnings call, came another. This time from Rishi Jaitly, who was in Singapore.
The heads of Twitter India’s various verticals were bridged into a conference call, where Jaitly addressed his team one last time, and announced that he was leaving Twitter after four years at the company. The next morning, rest of the workforce in India woke up to a farewell email, replete with John F Kennedy quotes and one, where Jaitly had said he’d “done his job”.
Until his departure, Jaitly was Twitter’s vice president, media, Asia Pacific & North Africa (APAC & MENA), a post he held since August last year. Since leaving Twitter, Jaitly has joined Times Global Partners, a division of Times Internet Limited as its CEO.
Not many were surprised with his exit. People The Ken spoke to said, it was a matter of when, not if. The first signs came when Shailesh Rao, Twitter’s vice-president of Asia Pacific, Latin America and Emerging Markets left the company in late July. Rao, an ex-Googler, it must be recalled, is credited with establishing Twitter India. He would then install Jaitly as Twitter’s market director for India in November 2012.
“It’s not rocket science to figure out Jaitly’s departure if you can crack the dynamics in Twitter,” says a person familiar with the situation on a condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak with the media. “Rao was like a mentor to Rishi (Jaitly). Rishi was one of Google India’s first public policy hires in 2009 as a policy analyst, while reporting to Rao, then the managing director of Google India.” At Twitter too, Jaitly reported to Rao at the time of his joining. Rao was then Twitter’s MD of International operations.
Then in September, Twitter announced that it was shutting down its engineering and development center in Bengaluru, and laying off 20 engineers in the process.
Except, the departures didn’t end with Jaitly. He was, in fact, the start of the exodus and the workforce realignment that was to follow. Two days later, Parminder Singh, Twitter’s managing director for India, South-East Asia, Middle East and North Africa also resigned.