Elon Musk Closes Twitter Deal, CEO Fired

Comment on this story


SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk became the owner of Twitter late Thursday as his $44 billion deal to acquire the company officially closed, ushering in a new era for one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.

As one of his first steps, he fired several top Twitter executives, according to three people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. One of them confirmed that the deal was done.

Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde, head of Legal Policy, Trust and Safety, have been fired, according to the population. Sean Edgett, the company’s general counsel, was also pushed out, one of the people said. Top executives were hastily evicted from the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.

Documents contain detailed plans to eviscerate Twitter’s workforce

Musk’s moves late Thursday signal his intent to put his stamp on Twitter. Musk has publicly criticized the company’s outgoing management over product decisions and content moderation, saying he would restore former President Donald Trump’s account.

Still, “Of course, Twitter can’t become an all-encompassing hellscape where anything can be said without consequences!” Musk tweeted Thursday.

Closing the deal ended a months-long rollercoaster ride in which the billionaire — the world’s richest person — staged a hostile takeover to buy Twitter at an inflated price, only to have the deal broken and then engage in a bitter legal battle with the social Network.

Elon Musk calls himself “Chief Twit”

But in recent days, Musk seemed resigned and even excited about his upcoming acquisition. He unexpectedly showed up at the company’s offices on Wednesday, carrying a sink to indicate that the news that he would become the owner must “sink in,” according to a photo he attached to his more than 100 posted millions of Twitter followers.

He also plans to hold a company-wide town hall on Friday.

Neither Twitter nor executives immediately responded to a request for comment.

The moves put the entrepreneur at the forefront of one of the world’s most powerful communications platforms just days before major elections in the United States and Brazil.

Musk, a transportation magnate and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has offered some hints as to what he would do if he took over Twitter — although he has no experience running a social media service.

Elon Musk is offering to buy Twitter at the original price weeks before the test

He has indicated that he wants to relax standards for monitoring harmful content, such as misinformation and hate speech. He has also denounced so-called censorship by social media companies.

Musk has repeatedly criticized the company and supported online attacks against individual executives. He has told potential investors and partners that he wants to turn the company around financially by firing nearly 75 percent of its workforce and embarking on new business opportunities, including allowing people to subscribe to exclusive content from popular influencers on the service.

Musk represents a different breed of owner than Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey or his current rival Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, who generally try to remain politically neutral.

Elon Musk says he would reverse Donald Trump’s ban

Musk has at times styled himself moderate during his Twitter bid, but he also announced that he wants to elect a Republican president in 2024. He has also commented on geopolitical conflicts between China and Taiwan and the Ukraine war.

Within Twitter, Musk’s arrival was greeted with resentment and dismay – although his visit on Wednesday raised some hopes. Those hopes were quickly dashed by the layoffs of long-serving top executives who enjoyed the trust of the existing workforce.

The mood following Wednesday’s visit was “a little more positive overall,” said an employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the company, adding, “Everyone is ready to see this.” Closing chapters and dealing with what’s next.”

Musk’s interest in owning Twitter became public in early April, when financial records revealed that he had taken a more than 9 percent stake in the company, making him the largest single shareholder. A day later, Musk was announced as Twitter’s newest CEO.

Texts reveal how Elon Musk was persuaded to buy Twitter

But his relationship with top executives quickly went awry. Agrawal took offense at Musk’s April 9 tweet asking, “Is Twitter dying?” according to the text message exchange revealed in court documents. Musk laid out his plan in subsequent messages.

“I will not be joining the board,” he said in one. “That’s a waste of time.”

Instead, he decided to take Twitter private and went to the board with an ultimatum: Let him buy the company or he’d found a competing social media service. He publicly submitted a hostile takeover bid at a price of $54.20 — a possible tongue-in-cheek approach to cannabis that cast some doubt on his sincerity.

About two weeks later, Musk and Twitter reached an agreement. In a stage interview, Musk spoke about his plans.

“Well, I think it’s very important that there’s an inclusive arena for free speech,” he said, echoing statements he’d made over the past few weeks. “Twitter has become a de facto marketplace of sorts, so it’s just really important that people … have both the reality and the perception that they can speak freely within the confines of the law.”

Why Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter

But Twitter’s board of directors, while angered by Musk’s tactics, were ultimately eager for the deal.

Twitter executives internally forecast that the company would be far from meeting revenue targets in 2022, according to Washington Post documents, as well as people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the process.

Twitter’s board of directors planned “drastic” cuts in staff and other services, including cutting about a quarter of the budget for third-party companies that moderate content for the company, major cuts in infrastructure and data centers, and laying off thousands of people from the interviews and documents reported saving at least $700 million in labor costs. One of the leaders who signed the layoff notices was Edgett, who was fired Thursday.

According to one of the people, executives also believed that the company would not have found other buyers easily.

Musk announced his acquisition three days prior to announcing those layoffs.

He planned to buy the company with a combination of debt financing, co-investors, and his own personal fortune, much of which will be generated through his stake in Tesla. But the stock market began to collapse, affecting Tesla’s stock prices and Musk’s overall wealth.

Musk declares Twitter deal on hold

Musk then began tweeting about Twitter’s spam and bot stats, which he says underestimated the true proportion of non-human accounts on the site.

He declared the deal “on hold” in an early morning tweet on May 13. In early July, Musk pulled out of the deal entirely.

Twitter sued him days later for alleged breach of contract and referred the matter to the Delaware Court of Chancery. Musk’s chances were widely viewed as bleak, but his legal team resorted to a new strategy after The Post uncovered a whistleblower complaint containing explosive claims about Twitter’s business.

According to Musk and his team, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe sensitive matters, Musk changed his mind about whether to buy the company after a series of court losses on planning and discovery-related matters. Loss became a serious possibility if the matter went to court and risked penalties beyond mere acquisition costs. And the blows to Tesla’s stock and Musk’s fortune became an ongoing problem.

Musk also found solace in his debt and equity obligations, which tied him to the deal on favorable terms that might otherwise not be available, people said. And he was excited about his plans for the site.

Earlier this month, the Delaware judge overseeing the case agreed to let Twitter and Musk settle their dispute by Friday or else it would go to court.

The deal finally closed a day before the deadline.

Comments are closed.