At Twitter and Salesforce, Bret Taylor Steps Into the Limelight


Bret Taylor

has been concerned with a few of the tech trade’s most notable improvements—from Google Maps to


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“like” button—and based firms that bought for a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

However till just lately, the 41-year-old Oakland, Calif., native was largely unknown exterior Silicon Valley. Then, inside a few days on the finish of final month, Mr. Taylor was named to assist run two of tech’s most distinguished firms, as board chairman of

Twitter Inc.

and co-chief government of Inc.

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“It was an uncommon week in my life,” Mr. Taylor mentioned in an interview.

The promotions catapult the engineer-by-training into the highlight as one in all Silicon Valley’s highest-profile executives, and depart him bridging firms on reverse ends of the tech spectrum: Twitter caters to buzz-hungry web scrollers.


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core software program helps company gross sales groups handle their clients.

Mr. Taylor mentioned the roles complement one another: Monitoring client expertise for Twitter helps him innovate in enterprise software program as a result of a lot of those self same traits have an effect on Salesforce’s company clients as effectively, he mentioned.

“Day-to-day, although, they clearly exist in two actually completely different worlds,” he mentioned.

He faces challenges in each. Salesforce, which he joined in 2016 and the place he beforehand was president and chief working officer, has benefited from the pandemic-era cloud-computing increase, however its inventory is down over the previous month. Its newest quarterly outlook upset traders as the corporate’s revenue estimate for this quarter was lower than what analysts had been anticipating.

His entrepreneurial pedigree, technical chops and product expertise have endeared him to Salesforce co-founder and Chairman

Marc Benioff,

who known as Mr. Taylor a “phenomenal trade chief” and a trusted good friend when asserting him as his co-CEO. The 2 get alongside effectively, individuals who have watched them work collectively say, partly as a result of they share a background in beginning their very own firms.

Salesforce, although, has tried the co-CEO method earlier than, and it ended rapidly. In 2018,

Keith Block

was promoted to co-CEO alongside Mr. Benioff after 5 years as president and COO. He left 18 months later, saying he was shifting on to the “subsequent chapter.”

At Twitter, Mr. Taylor will probably be targeted on serving to the brand new CEO,

Parag Agrawal

—who succeeded co-founder

Jack Dorsey

the identical day Mr. Taylor was elevated to chairman—attempt to notice bold progress objectives. In February, Twitter introduced targets to succeed in 315 million every day customers and $7.5 billion annual income within the subsequent two years. Twitter may finish 2021 with round 218 million every day customers and about $5 billion in annual income, in response to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

The 15-year-old firm has trailed the expansion of rivals, particularly Fb, which has a person base about 10 occasions as giant throughout its household of apps. Twitter has experimented with new options and merchandise with combined success. Its shares have fallen greater than 20% this yr, whereas the Nasdaq Composite Index has gained greater than 17%.

Mr. Taylor mentioned his principal focus at Twitter is working with Mr. Agrawal, whom he has identified since 2016 when he joined the board, and ensuring Mr. Agrawal succeeds within the new function. Messrs. Dorsey and Agrawal praised Mr. Taylor’s management and technical chops.

“He understands entrepreneurship, taking dangers, firms at huge scale, expertise, product, and he’s an engineer,” Mr. Dorsey said in a letter to Twitter staff.

Mr. Taylor’s two present employers have a historical past collectively: In late 2016, Mr. Benioff tried to engineer a Salesforce acquisition of Twitter. Mr. Taylor had joined Twitter’s board shortly earlier than Salesforce purchased Quip, a workplace-focused doc collaboration startup Mr. Taylor had cofounded, for about $582 million. With a foot in each camps, Mr. Taylor says he recused himself from the Salesforce discussions over Twitter. Mr. Benioff deserted the pursuit after shareholder pushback.

Extra just lately, Mr. Benioff has been vocal in criticizing social-media firms and their leaders over misinformation and different harms. He has likened Fb to cigarettes. Mr. Taylor mentioned his personal views on social media have modified since leaving Fb.

“Marc has lots of private opinions he expresses, not all of which I share,” Mr. Taylor mentioned. Broadly, Mr. Taylor mentioned he believes in how the platforms promote public dialogue. “It doesn’t come with out dangers. I believe it’s a very necessary dialog for society to have: How will we get the advantages of this public dialog with out a few of the destructive ramifications?”

Mr. Taylor has labored at a number of of the most important tech firms at necessary moments. At Google within the early 2000s, he was product supervisor for Google Maps, one of many firm’s first large successes past search. He and three colleagues left to type FriendFeed, a startup that aggregated updates, posts and different snippets from different social-media platforms to create personalised feeds. Fb acquired it in 2009, partially to rent Mr. Taylor and his co-founders, an individual aware of the deal mentioned. FriendFeed had invented a “like” button, which Fb added to its service.

At Fb, the place he turned chief expertise officer, Mr. Taylor spearheaded an initiative that allow exterior builders join their instruments and merchandise to Fb. With minimal oversight, the choice to offer information entry to outsiders ultimately led to data-sharing scandals after he left, together with Cambridge Analytica.

Mr. Taylor mentioned he was motivated by issues that customers would possibly wish to export their information, and that Fb had created a “walled backyard” round its entry to person info. It was a special time, when the No. 1 factor many individuals did on Fb was Farmville, a digital farm recreation, he mentioned.

“The broader implications of those networks—I don’t assume we totally understood, I don’t assume anybody totally understood on the time,” Mr. Taylor mentioned. Mr. Taylor left Fb in 2012 to begin Quip.

Fb’s ‘like’ button emerged after the tech big purchased FriendFeed, a startup Bret Taylor had co-founded that had invented its personal ‘like’ icon.


josh edelson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Pictures

Mr. Taylor’s life is woven into the material of the tech trade. He was born in Oakland and was raised within the East Bay the place he went to public colleges. One among his first gigs was in tech: serving to native companies construct web sites.

Mr. Taylor acquired each his bachelor’s and grasp’s levels in pc science from Stanford College. Each of his dad and mom additionally went to Stanford. He stays a loyal fan of the college’s soccer group. He nonetheless lives within the East Bay together with his spouse and three youngsters. He says he enjoys cooking for his household, together with his favourite dish being pasta Bolognese.

Individuals who have labored with Mr. Taylor say his potential to mix engineering sensibility with robust enterprise sense has helped him succeed. “Bret can get into the weeds with technical merchandise, and his understanding of software program offers him an enormous edge as a product particular person and a enterprise particular person,” mentioned Avichal Garg, a former colleague of Mr. Taylor’s at Google and Fb and co-founder of Electrical Capital, a cryptocurrency-focused enterprise agency.

Mr. Taylor nonetheless takes time to put in writing code. When wildfires hit the West Coast and air high quality was struggling, Mr. Taylor wrote his personal iPhone app to place air high quality readings on a map.

At Salesforce, Mr. Taylor rapidly rose as one of many extra technical senior leaders in an organization whose tradition is outlined by gross sales and that former staff mentioned has struggled to keep up technical expertise.

Ashwini Zenooz, Salesforce’s chief medical officer till earlier this yr, mentioned Mr. Taylor would take the time to hearken to what clients want in a sophisticated space like healthcare. “He was capable of join the dots,” mentioned Dr. Zenooz, who remembers Mr. Taylor getting off the telephone with an insurance coverage government, then rapidly utilizing what he had simply realized to assist a healthcare government on a following name.

Mr. Taylor has been a power behind Salesforce’s “Buyer 360” technique to combine its numerous purposes. And he was the architect of final yr’s $27.7 billion buy of workplace-collaboration firm Slack Applied sciences, Salesforce’s greatest acquisition ever.

Mr. Taylor’s potential to multitask might decide his future. Mr. Dorsey, who break up his time together with his different firm, Sq., confronted the ire of traders who had hoped he would deal with a single function.

Mr. Taylor foresees no such difficulty for himself. “I really feel very snug with the time commitments and knew what I used to be entering into,” he mentioned.

Write to Aaron Tilley at [email protected] and Georgia Wells at [email protected]

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