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PayPal President Calls Exec’s Twitter Posts ‘Shocking and Sad’

PayPal President David Marcus responded to one of his executive’s very disturbing posts on Twitter that began over the weekend, calling the incident shocking and sad. He tweeted a link to a PayPal blog post in which he called the executive’s behavior “extremely worrisome” but Marcus also wrote, “I will not tolerate your mad rants any longer.”

Rakesh Agrawal was PayPal’s Director of Strategy. He joined the company in March. On May 3, Business Insider reported on a strange series of tweets published on Agrawal’s Twitter account, including some in which he disparaged coworkers.

The next day, PayPal tweeted, “Rakesh Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses. PayPal has zero tolerance.”

Agrawal apologized to Marcus and Stan Chudnovsky (his former boss) via Twitter calling them “among the two smartest guys I know,” but he has continued to tweet strange messages in the days since the incident. Several people expressed concern about Agrawal, one person writing, “Hey journalists: can one of you try to track down a family member of @rakeshlobster to get him professional help? Like now?”

A tech columnist who is a friend of Rakesh said he was concerned about Agrawal and met him for dinner. He blogged about the meeting, writing, “I can report that contrary to the Hunter S. Thompson-esque persona he’d been creating, he seemed in command of his wits and confident in the ultimate success of his social-media strategy.”

Agrawal had published a post on the PayPal blog in March, explaining why he joined the company. He wrote in part:

Part of my role at PayPal will be to help small businesses and entrepreneurs understand online commerce and payments. There is a lot of nuance in commerce that goes beyond just APIs and technical implementation. If you can show a customer how to reduce chargebacks or mitigate fraud and as a result that business is more successful, you become more successful. If you can teach a customer to market better and they sell more, you will be more successful. The best APIs and the prettiest interfaces don’t mean much if your customers are still struggling with the rapidly changing retail environment.

That process also goes in the other direction: continuing to educate PayPal on the needs of those merchants and entrepreneurs. I see too many companies that are trying to revolutionize businesses without ever having talked to those businesses.

Interestingly, PayPal had had a taste of Agrawal’s outspokenness before hiring him when he wrote a column for Venture Beat, “PayPal’s new POS service is a Piece Of Sh*t.

Agrawal didn’t respond to our email inquiry about why he chose to leave PayPal (he tweeted that he had quit before the Friday-night Twitter incident).

It’s not clear why PayPal’s David Marcus wrote about the incident on the PayPal blogon Monday. We sent an inquiry to PayPal on Tuesday evening asking if it had offered counseling to Agrawal after what one called a Twitter “rampage,” and, given Marcus’ reference to “mad rants,” we asked what PayPal’s policy was with regard to mental health issues of their employees. We’ll update this story when we receive a response.

Here’s the fulltext of Marcus’ post on the PayPal blog:

When Rakesh (a.k.a. “Rocky”) Agrawal joined PayPal in March as a Director of Strategy, he said in our own PayPal Forward blog that he couldn’t think of a “better place to be.” So the turn of events over the past few days have been shocking and sad. Stan Chudnovsky, our VP of Growth and Strategy, invited Rocky to join his team to help PayPal chart the future of payments for small businesses and entrepreneurs. But instead of focusing on that amazing opportunity, Rocky chose to turn a career-defining moment into career-destroying infamy.

Since his tasteless tweets first became public, Rocky has posted positive remarks about myself and other PayPal leaders. Thanks but no thanks, Rocky. When you attack and insult my team, you attack, and insult me and the rest of PayPal. I think the world of the people you’ve insulted. They are some of the best people I’ve worked with in my career, and I will not tolerate your mad rants any longer.

Now…if you’re a close friend of Rocky’s and you’re out there, I’d strongly suggest getting to him sooner rather than later, as his behavior is extremely worrisome.

We at PayPal are putting this episode behind us, as always working on behalf of our customers.

On Tuesday evening, Agrawal tweeted, “My deepest apologies to everyone I’ve hurt, especially @davidmarcus and @stan_chudnovsky.” He said he would be tweeting less and wrote, “Thanks again to friends and family around the world, including many people i’ve never met.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.