Elon Musk completed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on Thursday, taking control of the company and reportedly firing top executives, including the CEO, Parag Agrawal. The world’s richest man is now in control of one of the most influential social media platform.
Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” in a reference to Twitter’s corporate logo just hours before a court-ordered deadline to buy the business expired. He also changed his Twitter bio to ”Chief Twit.”
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Shortly after taking over Twitter, Musk reportedly ousted several executive figures, including Agrawal; Ned Segal, the chief financial officer; and Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy, trust and safety, who was also behind Donald Trump’s suspension last year.
Agrawal and Segal were in Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco at the deal’s close and security escorted them out. Musk also fired Sean Edgett, Twitter’s general counsel.
By completing the deal, Musk and Twitter managed to avoid a trial that was originally set to take place earlier this month. But Musk’s takeover, and the immediate firings of some of its top executives, now raises new questions for its future.
The firings followed news last week that Musk planned to eliminate nearly 75% of Twitter’s staff in an effort to pay down the debt burden that will have grown since the acquisition. Musk later dismissed those reports however, telling employees that he would not cut such a large percentage of the staff.
Back and forth drama between Musk and Twitter
It has been six months of ongoing drama since the Tesla CEO made his unsolicited $54.20 per share bid public. Initially, Twitter resisted the deal by adopting a so-called “poison bill.” The company later sued the billionaire in Delaware after he declared plans to abandon it since he was concerned about spam accounts on the platform. Twitter demanded Musk to close the deal and he eventually moved forward with it.
The Tesla CEO announced his landmark accomplishment by entering the San Francisco Twitter headquarters holding a sink, which was accompanied by a tweet with the caption: ”Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!.”
Throughout the seesawing to and fro, Musk regularly clashed with senior figures at Twitter, including Agrawal and Gadde, who he later fired.
Musk is expected to speak to Twitter employees directly on Friday, according to an internal memo cited in several media outlets. Despite internal confusion and low morale, Twitter leaders have at least outwardly welcomed Musk’s arrival this week.
Sarah Personette, the company’s chief customer officer, said she had a “great discussion” with Musk on Wednesday and endorsed his Thursday message to advertisers.
“Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged,” Personette tweeted on Thursday. “Looking forward to the future!”
Twitter enters a new chapter
Twitter enters a new chapter, with questions hanging over what Musk plans to do with the platform that numbers over 230 million users.
So far, Musk has said he plans to rethink Twitter’s content moderation policies in service of a more maximalist approach to “free speech.” The world’s richest man has also stated that he downright disagrees with the company’s practice of permanently barring those who repeatedly violate its rules. This raises the possibility that a number of previously banned, controversial users could gain back their accounts.
With that being said, many will be watching to see how soon Musk could let former U.S. President Donald Trump back on the platform, as he has previously said he would do.
By taking those critical steps, Musk could easily reshape public discourse online and disrupt the new conservative-leaning social media platforms that emerged in response to bans and restrictions on Twitter.
Civil rights groups have stated that loosening the content moderation rules could lead to a political and social disaster, especially as the US midterm elections approach.
Earlier this week, Musk posted an open letter to Twitter advertisers, saying he doesn’t want the platform to become a “free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”
He also said he is buying the company “to try to help humanity”.
”The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he said in a tweet earlier on Thursday.
Dear Twitter Advertisers pic.twitter.com/GMwHmInPAS
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2022