- Jack Dorsey cofounded Twitter in 2006 and the company made him a billionaire.
- He stepped down as Twitter CEO in 2021 and supported Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.
- Dorsey runs the financial services company Block and is famous for his unusual life of luxury.
From his friendship with Elon Musk to quashing rumors about sending his beard hair to rapper Azealia Banks, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey leads an interesting life.
Dorsey has had a turbulent career in Silicon Valley. After cofounding Twitter on March 21, 2006, he was booted as the company’s CEO two years later, but returned in 2015 having set up his second company, Square — which he rebranded as Block in 2021.
He led Twitter through the techlash that has engulfed social media companies, testifying before Congress multiple times and later stepping down as CEO of Twitter in 2021, as well as eventually encouraging Musk’s Twitter acquisition the following year. Dorsey continues to lead Block, where in April 2022 he changed his title from “CEO” to “Block Head.”
The tech entrepreneur has provoked his fair share of controversy and criticism over the years and like some other billionaires, he owns a stunning house, dates models, and drives fast cars.
Here’s what we know about Dorsey’s career rise and life outside of work.
Rebecca Borison, Madeline Stone, Katie Canales, Bethany Biron, and Isobel Asher Hamilton contributed reporting to an earlier version of this story.
At age 15, Dorsey wrote dispatch software that is still used by some taxi companies, according to a biography on Dorsey.
He briefly attended the Missouri University of Science and Technology and transferred to New York University where he before calling it quits in 1999 one semester before graduation to focus on his idea for Twitter, according to the biography.
Nobody else really seemed interested, so he put away the idea for a bit, according to a Stanford Blog.
He got his license in about 2002, before exploding onto the tech scene, the Journal reported.
Odeo went out of business in 2006, so Dorsey returned to his messaging idea, and Twitter was born.
Dorsey kept his Twitter handle simple, “@jack.” He hasn’t changed it since.
Dorsey took out his nose ring to look the part of a CEO. He was 30 years old.
By 2008, Williams had taken over as CEO, and Dorsey transitioned to chairman of Twitter’s board.
Dorsey immediately got started on new projects. He invested in Foursquare and launched a payments startup called Square that lets small-business owners accept credit card payments through a smartphone attachment.
Dorsey had to remind Obama to keep his replies under 140 characters, Twitter’s limit at the time.
In 2014 Forbes pegged Dorsey’s net worth at $2.2 billion and it has spiked as high as $12.5 billion in 2021.
The $1.40 salary actually represented a pay rise for Dorsey, who in previous years had refused any payment at all.
He’s far from the only Silicon Valley mogul to have taken a measly salary – Mark Zuckerberg makes $1 a year as CEO of Facebook.
“Now he’s able to say, like, ‘The BMW is the only car I drive, because it’s the best automotive engineering on the planet,’ or whatever,” Twitter cofounder Biz Stone told The New Yorker in 2013.
The house has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which Dorsey views as a marvel of design.
Dorsey said Musk’s tweets are, “focused on solving existential problems and sharing his thinking openly.”
He added that he enjoys all the “ups and downs” that come with Musk’s sometimes unpredictable use of the site. Musk himself replied, tweeting his thanks and “Twitter rocks!” followed by a string of random emojis.
Both Musk and Dorsey are crypto enthusiasts, and appear to have a friendship of sorts.
Dorsey told Rolling Stone about the meal, which took place in 2011. Dorsey said the goat was served cold, and that he personally stuck to salad.
In 2019, Dorsey appeared on a podcast run by a health guru who previously said that vaccines caused autism. Dorsey said during his interview that he eats one meal a day and fasts all weekend. He said the first time he tried fasting it made him feel like he was hallucinating.
“It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centered around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer, how time really slowed down,” he said.
The comments drew fierce criticism from many who said Dorsey was normalizing eating disorders.
In a later interview with Wired, Dorsey said he eats seven meals a week, “just dinner.”
Dorsey would regularly don leather jackets and slim suits by Prada and Hermès, as well as Dior Homme reverse-collar dress shirts, a sort of stylish take on the popped collar.
More recently he favors edgier outfits, including the classic black turtleneck favored by Silicon Valley luminaries like Steve Jobs.
Dorsey seems to care less about looking the part of a traditional executive these days.
In 2016, Banks posted on her now-deleted Twitter account that Dorsey sent her his hair, “in an envelope.” Dorsey later told the Huffington Post that the incident never happened.
In a bizarre Huffington Post interview in 2019, Dorsey was asked whether Donald Trump — an avid tweeter — could be removed from the platform if he called on his followers to murder a journalist. Dorsey gave a vague answer which drew sharp criticism.
Following the interview’s publication, Dorsey said he doesn’t care about “looking bad.”
“I care about being open about how we’re thinking and about what we see,” he added.
Dorsey and Sandberg were asked about election interference on Twitter and Facebook as well as alleged anti-conservative bias in social media companies at the event.
During the hearing, Dorsey shared a snapshot of his spiking heart rate on Twitter. He was in the hot seat for several hours and he showed his heart rate peaked at 109 beats per minute.
Dorsey appeared via videoconference at the Senate hearing on Section 230, a part of US law that protects internet companies from legal liability for user-generated content, as well as giving them broad authority to decide how to moderate their own platforms.
In prepared testimony ahead of the hearing, Dorsey said stripping back Section 230 would “collapse how we communicate on the Internet,” and suggested ways for tech companies to make their moderation processes more transparent.
And during the hearing, Dorsey once again faced accusations of anti-conservative bias.
The accusations from Republican lawmakers focused on the way Twitter enforces its policies, particularly the way it has labelled tweets from President Trump compared to other world leaders.
Dorsey took the brunt of questions from lawmakers, even though he appeared alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
He appeared in another hearing a few weeks later with Zuckerberg, facing questions from Republicans who were displeased with how the platforms had dealt with then-President Donald Trump’s social media accounts.
Dorsey said in the “Tales of the Crypt” podcast that he started using ice baths and saunas in the evenings around 2016.
He will alternately sit in his barrel sauna for 15 minutes and then switch to an ice bath for three. He repeats this routine three times, before finishing it off with a one-minute ice bath.
He also likes to take an icy dip in the mornings to wake him up.
Page Six reported in September 2018 that the pair were spotted together at the Harper’s Bazaar Icons party during New York Fashion Week. Page Six also reported that Dorsey’s exes included actress Lily Cole and ballet dancer Sofiane Sylve.
Dorsey’s announcement followed a tour of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020,” he wrote on Twitter.
But, then Dorsey came under threat of being ousted as Twitter CEO by activist investor Elliott Management.
Both Bloomberg and CNBC reported in late February 2020 that major Twitter investor Elliott Management — led by Paul Singer — was seeking to replace Dorsey.
Reasons given included the fact that Dorsey split his time between two firms by acting as CEO to both Twitter and financial tech firm Square, as well as his planned move to Africa.
Twitter announced on March 9, 2020 that it had reached a deal with Elliott Management which would leave Jack Dorsey in place as CEO.
The deal included a $1 billion investment from private equity firm Silver Lake, and partners from both Elliott Management and Silver Lake joined Twitter’s board.
Patrick Pichette, lead independent director of Twitter’s board, said he was “confident we are on the right path with Jack’s leadership,” but added that a new temporary committee would be formed to instruct the board’s evaluation of Twitter’s leadership.
The accounts of high-profile verified accounts belonging to Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian West, and others were hacked, with attackers tweeting out posts asking users to send payment in bitcoin to fraudulent cryptocurrency addresses.
As a solution, Twitter temporarily blocked all verified accounts — those with blue check marks on their profiles — but the damage was done.
And Musk said during a July 2020 interview with The New York Times that he personally contacted Dorsey following the hack.
“Within a few minutes of the post coming up, I immediately got texts from a bunch of people I know, then I immediately called Jack so probably within less than five minutes my account was locked,” said Musk.
CNBC was the first to report on Dorsey’s expected resignation, citing unnamed sources.
Twitter confirmed the story the same day, announcing Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal would take over as CEO with immediate effect.
Dorsey posted on his Twitter account saying: “Not sure anyone has heard but, I resigned from Twitter.”
In his tweet he included a screenshot of the email he sent to Twitter staff announcing his resignation.
And in May 2022, his time on the board of directors officially came to an end, an anticipated move that coincides with the company’s stockholder’s meeting.
“The name change creates room for further growth,” the company said in a statement.
“Block references the neighborhood blocks where we find our sellers, a blockchain, block parties full of music, obstacles to overcome, a section of code, building blocks, and of course, tungsten cubes,” it added.
The line about tungsten cubes was an apparent reference to a craze among crypto enthusiasts of paying as much as $3,500 for novelty tungsten cubes.
The title change was made official in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 20, 2022.
“There will be no changes in Mr. Dorsey’s roles and responsibilities,” the filing said.
Block’s website was also updated to list his new title as Block Head.
Musk tweeted in response to the news using fire emojis to signal his approval for Dorsey’s title.
Musk officially added the title of “Technoking” to his role at Tesla in March 2021.
In particular, Dorsey is a fan of Bitcoin, which he described in early 2019 as “resilient” and “principled.” He told the “Tales of the Crypt” podcast in March that year that he was maxing out the $10,000 weekly spending limit on Square’s Cash App buying up Bitcoin.
In October 2020 he slammed Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong for forbidding employee activism at the company, saying cryptocurrency is itself a form of activism.
He’s also said he hopes bitcoin can help bring about “world peace” in a panel alongside Musk and Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood called “The B Word” on July 2021. He said he loves the bitcoin community because it’s “weird as hell.”
“It’s the only reason that I have a career — because I learned so much from people like who are building bitcoin today,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey replied to a Twitter user lamenting Vine’s demise saying: “I know. Biggest regret,” accompanied by a sad face emoji.
Twitter acquired short-form video app Vine in 2012 but shut it down in 2016.
In his 84-page report and subsequent testimony, Zatko made a number of allegations against the company, including claims it had “egregious deficiencies” around security protocol and that Dorsey experienced a “drastic loss of focus” in his last year as CEO of Twitter.
Musk’s team accused Twitter of misleading investors and intentionally “miscounting” spam accounts, Insider reported.
In the texts, Dorsey explained why he left the company and said he previously pushed to get Musk involved with Twitter.
“A new platform is needed. It can’t be a company. That’s why I left,” Dorsey wrote to Musk, adding he thinks Twitter should be an “open-sourced protocol” and “cant have an advertising model.”
Dorsey also told Musk he had advocated for the Tesla CEO’s addition to the Twitter board a year earlier, but the request was denied, which he said he thought “was completely stupid and backwards.”
After Musk ordered mass layoffs at Twitter after taking over in November 2022, Dorsey tweeted an apology: “I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.”
“Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient,” he wrote on Twitter. “They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment. I realize many are angry with me.”
Last year, Dorsey criticized Musk’s decision to rebrand the social media site’s Birdwatch feature to call it Community Notes, dubbing it the “most boring Facebook name ever.”
In April, the Twitter cofounder openly criticized Musk’s leadership in a series of social media posts Friday, writing that “it all went south” and Musk “should have walked away” from the acquisition.
Though in July, Dorsey said “running Twitter is hard” after Musk sparked a backlash by announcing “rate limits” on viewing tweets.
“I don’t wish that stress upon anyone,” Dorsey tweeted. “I trust that the team is doing their best under the constraints they have, which are immense. It’s easy to critique the decisions from afar … which I’m guilty of … but I know the goal is to see Twitter thrive. It will.”
Dorsey also urged “calm” when Musk rebranded Twitter to X in July.
He endorsed Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has made misleading claims about the COVID virus, in June for his 2024 presidential campaign.