Elon Musk became the new owner of Twitter Inc on Thursday, firing top executives he accused of misleading him and providing little clarity on how to achieve the lofty ambitions he outlined for the influential social media platform.
The CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc. has said he wants to “defeat” spam bots on Twitter, create algorithms that determine how content is publicly presented to its users, and prevent hate speech on the platform. And prevents division from becoming an echo chamber, even if it limits censorship.
Yet Musk has not given details about how he will achieve all this and who will run the company. He has said he plans to cut jobs, leaving Twitter’s roughly 7,500 employees worried about their future. He also said on Thursday that he didn’t buy Twitter to make more money, but “to try to help humanity, which I love.”
According to people familiar with the matter, Musk terminated Twitter chief executive officer Parag Agarwal, chief financial officer Ned Sehgal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. He had accused him of misleading him and Twitter investors about the number of fake accounts on the social media platform.
Sources said Agarwal and Sehgal were at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters when the deal closed and they were pulled out.
Twitter, Musk and officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The $44 billion acquisition is the culmination of a remarkable saga, full of twists and turns, that raised doubts about whether Musk would complete the deal. It began on April 4, when Musk disclosed a 9.2% stake in the company, making him its largest shareholder.
The world’s richest man then agreed to join Twitter’s board, only to bow down at the last minute and offer to buy the company in exchange for $54.20 per share, an offer that Twitter was unsure whether Musk’s cannabis Let’s be interpreted as other jokes.
Musk’s offer was genuine, and only one weekend later in April, the two sides struck a deal at the price he suggested. This happened without Musk doing any due diligence on the company’s confidential information, as is customary in a takeover.
In the weeks that followed, Musk had other ideas. He publicly complained that he believed Twitter’s spam accounts were much higher than Twitter estimates, published in regulatory filings, that accounted for less than 5% of its monetizable daily active users. His lawyers then accused Twitter of not complying with his requests for information on the subject.
The acrimony resulted in Musk giving Twitter notice on July 8 that he was terminating his deal on the grounds that Twitter misled him about bots and did not cooperate with them. Four days later, Twitter sued Musk in Delaware, where the company is incorporated, to force him to complete the deal.
By then, stocks in social media companies and the broader stock market were engulfed in worry that raising the Federal Reserve’s interest rates as it attempts to fight inflation would push the US economy into recession. Twitter accused Musk of buyer’s remorse, arguing that he wanted to exit the deal because he felt he overpaid.
Most legal analysts said Twitter had the strongest arguments and would likely prevail in court. His mind didn’t change even after Twitter’s former security chief Peter Zatko stepped down as whistleblower in August, alleging that the company failed to disclose vulnerabilities in its security and data privacy.
On October 4, just as Musk was to be ousted by Twitter’s lawyers before the start of his trial later in the month, he made another U-turn and offered to complete the deal as promised. A Delaware judge gave him an October 28 deadline to close the transaction and avoid trial.
Since then, Musk has joined in promoting the deal. He walked into Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday with a big grin and carried a porcelain sink, later tweeting “let that sink in.” He changed his description to “Chief Tweet” in his Twitter profile.
He also tried to quell fears among employees that major layoffs were coming and assured advertisers that his past criticism of Twitter’s content moderation rules would not hurt its appeal.
“Twitter clearly can’t become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said without consequences!” Musk said in an open letter to advertisers on Thursday.
Musk has indicated that he sees Twitter as the foundation to build a “super app” that offers everything from money transfers to shopping and ride-hailing.
“In my view the long-term potential for Twitter is an order of magnitude greater than its current value,” Musk said on Tesla’s call with analysts on October 19.
But Twitter is struggling to engage its most active users who are vital to business. These “heavy tweeters” account for less than 10% of total monthly users, but generate 90% of all tweets and half of global revenue.
Musk said in May that he would lift the ban on Donald Trump, which was lifted after the attack on the US Capitol, although the former US president has said he would not return to the podium. Instead he has launched his own social media app Truth Social.
Twitter shares were trading 0.3% higher at $53.86 in New York on Thursday, a small discount to the $54.20 per share deal price. The stock will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.
This is the first post Elon Musk did at BGR India after becoming the new Twitter owner.