Alexander Macgillivray is stepping down as Twitter’s general counsel, a post where he not only guided the company’s legal strategy but also gave it a reputation as a vigorous advocate for free speech.
Macgillivray, the Canadian former-Googler known to everyone as Amac, disclosed the news in a tweet Friday:
Passing the torch. I care deeply about Twitter and our users, will continue to help while exploring other passions http://t.co/EBY6UZyN72
— Alexander Macgillivray (@amac) August 30, 2013
In a blog post, Macgillivray proudly described the work he did at the company. He did not provide specific reasons for moving on, only stating he looked forward to pursuing “my various internet passions from new and different perspectives, seeing friends and family without distraction, and just goofing off a bit. We should all do more of that.”
According to AllThingsD, sources at the company speculate that Macgillivray’s stock options have vested after four years and that he is ready to move on before Twitter’s arduous IPO process gets under way; the story also referred to occasional tension between Macgillivray and CEO Dick Costolo.
In a profile interview with GigaOM last year, Macgillivray explained that it was Twitter’s commitment to free speech that has led the company to have frequent confrontations with governments and police. These include including a long-running fight in which Twitter repeatedly refused to turn over the Twitter account of an Occupy Wall Street profile.
Macgillivray’s tenure also coincided with Twitter’s transformation from a micro-blog platform for tech fans into a full-blown major media company that is now partnering with major studios, brands and sports leagues. Twitter’s evolution has also brought controversies, including its decision to suspend the account of a U.K. journalist who was tweeting disparaging comments about Twitter partner NBC during the Olympics. In the fallout, Macgillivray wrote a blog post to apologize and explain the company’s actions.
The high regard in which Macgillivray is held in tech and legal circles was reflected in reactions on Twitter from lawyers, academics and writers:
— Steven Levy (@StevenLevy) August 30, 2013
— Jillian C. York (@jilliancyork) August 30, 2013
— Michael Geist (@mgeist) August 30, 2013