Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said on Thursday he is reconsidering a proposed stint in Africa this year due to coronavirus concerns, walking back his plans 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 in San Francisco.
Dorsey tweeted in November, as he was wrapping up a shorter trip through Africa, that he was planning to move to the continent for three to six months in mid-2020.
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.
Twitter gives shareholders equal voting rights, and Dorsey, a co-founder of the company, owns only about 2% of the company.
New York-based Elliott will be seeking to install its own nominees to Twitter’s eight-member board when three of the company’s directors stand for election at its upcoming annual shareholder meeting, sources told Reuters.
Dorsey said Thursday that he had made a mistake in failing to explain his reasons for wanting to spend time in Africa. He said Africa’s growing population and his belief in the benefits of a “distributed model” of work across time zones made the move desirable.
“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.
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 and other tech companies have said they were encouraging employees to work from home, citing risks related to the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.