Musk FIRES several top Twitter executives in his first power move as he formally takes over


Elon Musk has formally taken over Twitter – and immediately fired several top executives, in what is being seen as his first power move.  

Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal, the chief financial officer Ned Segal, and the top lawyer for the firm, Vijaya Gadde, were culled just hours after Musk finalized the $44billion acquisition. 

Sean Edgett, the company’s general counsel, and chief customer officer Sarah Personette were also pushed out – as the Tesla CEO set out to make his mark in his new position. 

The fired Twitter executives were hastily shuttled from the building, sources told The Washington Post. Billionaire Musk is set to hold a company-wide town hall meeting on Friday.

In a securities filing on April 14, Musk said he did not have confidence in Twitter’s management and initially vowed to sack 75 percent of the workforce when he formally bought the tech giant. 

Agrawal, who has repeatedly clashed with Musk over the number of users Twitter has, will walk away from his job with $42 million, after being chief executive officer for just under a year. 

His total compensation for 2021 was $30.4 million – largely in stock awards – after he was handed the top position following Jack Dorsey’s resignation last November. It’s currently unclear who will replace him, although there is speculation that Musk will take on the role as CEO himself.

Twitter’s former top lawyer Gadde, who earned $17 million in 2021, was reportedly in tears in April when Musk’s $44 billion takeover first came to light. She has now been paid out $12.5 million for her troubles, Insider said.

Ex-CFO Segal – who was the man behind Donald Trump’s Twitter ban – also received the handsome sum of $25.4 million after being fired by Musk on Thursday evening. 

And former CCO Personette was handed $11.2 million as part of Musk’s house clearance. 

The South African publicly criticized Twitter’s existing leadership team – in particular, attacking their policies on content moderation and censorship. He has also sparred with them over data on how many accounts were bots or spam.

This deal completion comes at the eleventh hour – just one day before Musk was going to be dragged back into court after being sued by Twitter for a back-and-forth he had over whether he was going to buy the company. 

Musk posted a video of himself marching into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters carrying a porcelain sink on Wednesday

Parag Agrawal, the CEO of Twitter, was fired by Elon Musk on Thursday

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's top lawyer, has been fired by Musk

Parag Agrawal (left), the CEO of Twitter, and Vijaya Gadde (right), Twitter’s top lawyer, have been fired by Musk according to reports

Sean Edgett, the general counsel for Twitter, was fired on Thursday night immediately on Musk taking over, according to sources

Ned Segal, chief financial officer for Twitter, has also been fired by Musk, according to reports

Sean Edgett (left), the general counsel, and Ned Segal, chief financial officer for Twitter (right), have also been fired by Musk, according to reports

On Wednesday, the billionaire changed his Twitter profile to identify himself as the ‘Chief Twit’ and posted a video of himself walking into the company’s San Francisco headquarters carrying a porcelain sink.  

Agrawal, who took over from founder Jack Dorsey almost a year ago, has been at loggerheads with Musk over the number of genuine Twitter users, with Musk responding to a thread of Agrawal’s in May with a ‘poop’ emoji.

When Musk first made his takeover bid in April, he said he had not been given accurate data about spam accounts and bots.

Three months after launching his bid, Musk pulled out – insisting he had been mislead about the size of the firm. 

Twitter has for years said that bots make up less than 5 percent of its ‘monetizable daily active users’ (mDAU). 

The fired four: Musk culls Twitter’s top executive staff members within hours of taking control of the company  

Parag Agrawal, 38

Chief Executive Officer since 2021

2021 compensation: $30.4 million

Ned Segal, 48

Chief Financial Officer since 2017

2021 compensation: $18.9 million

Vijaya Gadde, 48

Head of Legal Policy since 2011

2021 compensation: $17 million

Sean Edgett

General Counsel since 2017

2021 compensation: unclear

 

In a series of tweets in May, Agrawal acknowledged that ‘spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter,’ and added that, ‘as such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day.’

He insisted that Musk was exaggerating the scale of the problem. The South African-born Musk said as many as 25 percent of all Twitter accounts were not real. 

Twitter sued Musk to complete the deal, accusing him of using bots as a pretext to exit the deal after getting buyer’s remorse, and the deal was set to go to trial later this month.

Musk himself took aim in April at Gadde for censoring stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop after it was reported she’d sobbed at news he’d bought the firm.   

The tycoon issued a scathing tweet in response to reports Gadde, 48, had been crying at news of the deal.

He wrote: ‘Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.’   

Musk was referring to the suspension of the New York Post’s account for its exclusive about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the run-up to the 2020 election. 

Initially dismissed as ‘misinformation’ by liberal outlets and social media networks, the laptop and its contents have since been verified by many of the same publications.  

Gadde – who was described as Twitter’s ‘moral authority’ – broke down in tears on April 25, Politico reported, while briefing her team via video link on the future of the company under Musk.

The tech entrepreneur must now try and turn around the company’s finances.

On October 19, he said Twitter was an asset that had ‘languished’ for a long time. 

‘Myself and the other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now,’ he said.

‘The long term potential for Twitter in my view is an order of magnitude greater than its current value.’ 

TOP LAWYER IS TWITTER’S ‘MORAL AUTHORITY’

Vijaya Gadde, 48, was described in a 2020 Politico profile as ‘the most important Silicon Valley executive you’ve never heard of.’

Managing a team of 350, in 2021 she earned $17 million: a base salary of $600,000, plus a bonus of $450,000 and almost $400,000 in personal security. The rest was from shares. 

Born in India and moving to Beaumont, Texas, when she was two years old, she recalls her engineer father having to go to the KKK to ask permission to sell insurance door-to-door.

The family later moved to New Jersey, and Gadde graduated with a law degree from New York University in 2000. ‘I felt very strongly that I needed to be in a position where I understood my rights, or my community’s rights,’ she told Politico. ‘I didn’t ever want to be taken advantage of.’

Gadde joined Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she worked for a decade before becoming Senior Director in the legal department of Juniper Networks in Silicon Valley. 

She joined Twitter in 2011, and became co-founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey’s right-hand woman, sitting next to him and accompanying him on his meetings in Congress and at the White House.

In October 2019 she was the architect of the idea to stop political advertising on the platform, and shortly before the election she played a key role in the decision to suspend The New York Post’s account when it reported on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Twitter claimed it violated the company policy against promoting hacked material; critics were angered by the heavy-handedness, and Twitter later apologized.

In January 2021, it was Gadde who rang Dorsey – on vacation in Hawaii – to inform him they were banning Donald Trump, for violating policies against inciting violence. 

Married to Ramsey Homsany, a lawyer and co-founder of Octant Bio, a synthetic biology company, the pair welcomed a child in 2020.

Gadde is also a co-founder of #Angels, an investment collective that backs start-ups and helps ensure that women receive equal compensation at successful companies. She is also on the board of medical charity Mercy Corps.

 

He has floated the idea of turning Twitter into an ‘everything app’.

The idea originated in Asia with companies like WeChat, which lets users not only send messages but also make payments, shop online or hail a taxi. 

The all-in-one service appealed to users who had fewer choices in a region where Google, Facebook and others were blocked.

Musk has told investors he plans to build one that will sell premium subscriptions to reduce reliance on ads, allow content creators to make money and enable payments, according to a source briefed on the matter.

Musk’s plans to lower the guard rails that are common across all social media platforms has lead to fears of a deluge of hateful, harmful and potentially illegal content on Twitter. Already, it has struggled with identifying and removing child porn.

Members of Twitter’s trust and safety team, which includes content moderators, are expected to be among Musk’s deepest job cuts, employees fear.

‘Imagine a world where all those people are gone,’ one employee said. ‘It’s going to be a hellscape.’

Yet Musk warned advertisers earlier on Thursday that Twitter cannot become a ‘hellscape’ under his ownership.

The Tesla CEO sent a tweet to advertisers on Thursday morning, saying that while he wants the social media giant to become a ‘digital town square’ it ‘obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.’

‘Our platform must be warm and welcoming to all,’ he wrote to advertisers Thursday, ‘where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.’ 

He added that he ‘very much believes that advertising… can delight, entertain and inform you,’ saying that when done properly, advertising ‘can show you a service or product or medical treatment that you never knew existed, but is right for you.

‘For this to be true, it is essential to show Twitter users advertising that is as relevant as possible to their needs,’ the 51-year-old concluded in his letter, adding: ‘Low relevancy ads are spam, but highly relevant ads are actually content!’ 

Musk later agreed with a rapper on the platform, Zuby, who suggested that Twitter should ‘find a way to compensate’ monetize or partner ‘with its top creators, like every other social media app.’

‘Absolutely,’ the SpaceX founder wrote in response. 

Musk also revealed his ‘motivation’ for buying the company in the open letter to advertisers, writing: ‘There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it is wrong.’

He said he acquired the company ‘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.’

But, he wrote, ‘much of traditional media has fueled and catered’ to either the far right or the far left ‘as they believe that is what brings in the money, but in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.

‘That is why I bought Twitter,’ Musk wrote. ‘I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.

‘And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.’

Meanwhile, Twitter staff remained on edge on Thursday.

He was later pictured on Wednesday speaking with some employees, reportedly denying rumors that he is culling three quarters of the staff.

But that did little to assuage the more than 7,500 people employed by the social media giant.

As one Twitter employee explained in an anonymous essay for Business Insider, those who remain at the company are worried about the Tesla CEO’s volatility.

‘I don’t think my colleagues and I have a good model for how volatile he is — and I can see that rocking the boat, especially if he makes more comments that make people say, ‘What the hell?” the anonymous Twitter employee wrote.

‘There are also people here who are just unfazed by his volatility,’ they continued. ‘They’re not going to react in any way.’

Musk confirmed on Thursday that he has bought Twitter ahead of a court-imposed deadline to seal his $44billion takeover of the company

Musk confirmed on Thursday that he has bought Twitter ahead of a court-imposed deadline to seal his $44billion takeover of the company

The Tesla CEO sent a tweet to advertisers Thursday morning, saying that while he wants the social media giant to become a 'digital town square' it 'obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences'

The Tesla CEO sent a tweet to advertisers Thursday morning, saying that while he wants the social media giant to become a ‘digital town square’ it ‘obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences’

He also changed his Twitter profile to identify himself as the 'Chief Twit' ahead of the court-imposed deadline to finalize his $44billion takeover

He also changed his Twitter profile to identify himself as the ‘Chief Twit’ ahead of the court-imposed deadline to finalize his $44billion takeover

The employee noted that their fellow workers’ views of their new boss will all be contingent on how many people he lays off.

‘People are asking, if heads are going to roll, whose good graces do you need to be in to stay?’ the employee wrote, adding: ‘Most people think layoffs are going to be pretty immediate.

‘I don’t think our site-reliability engineers need to be worried, though,’ they mused. ‘On the other hand, machine-learning engineers, or the people responsible for building experimental services are more worried.’

The Twitter employee then went on to say they would be most worried ‘if Musk decides to wipe out teams indiscriminately, because then it’s just a roll of the dice.’

In the meantime, several Twitter employees took to their social media platform to share how they are sticking together.

Stephanie Guevara, a senior iOS engineer for the platform, though, was more blunt — asking Musk directly: ‘Was it fun to look at the faces of the people you said you’d be laying off?’

And Parker Lyons expressed his nervousness about the new boss’ visit with a meme of a man on top of two tires lifting a sofa, captioned: ‘When Elon walks by your desk to see what you’re working on.’

Musk met with Twitter employees when he visited the San Francisco headquarters Wednesday

Musk met with Twitter employees when he visited the San Francisco headquarters Wednesday

Following the visit, Stephanie Guevara, a senior iOS engineer for the platform, asked Musk directly: 'Was it fun to look at the faces of the people you said you'd be laying off?'

Following the visit, Stephanie Guevara, a senior iOS engineer for the platform, asked Musk directly: ‘Was it fun to look at the faces of the people you said you’d be laying off?’

Parker Lyons expressed his nervousness about the new boss' visit with a meme of a man on top of two tires lifting a sofa, captioned: 'When Elon walks by your desk to see what you're working on'

Parker Lyons expressed his nervousness about the new boss’ visit with a meme of a man on top of two tires lifting a sofa, captioned: ‘When Elon walks by your desk to see what you’re working on’

Others just shared how they are sticking together during the takeover

Others just shared how they are sticking together during the takeover

Twitter management had already planned to cut staff after spending a whopping $1.5 billion last year on personnel, and had wanted to reduce that amount by some $800 million.

It also spent hundreds of millions of dollars in contracting firms that pay people to review reports of hate speech, child pornography and other rule-breaking content, corporate documents obtained by the Washington Post last week revealed.

Management also planned to make major cuts to its infrastructure, getting rid of data centers that keep the site functioning for more than 200 million users a day.

But Musk expanded on the idea of layoffs, telling employees in June he didn’t see a reason why low-performing workers should remain on the payroll.

He has also made clear he plans to loosen content moderation standards — which he claims are infringing on free speech — and restore former President Donald Trump’s account as soon as he takes ownership of the company.

Since then, though, the Tesla CEO has vowed to take a far lighter touch on suspending users who break Twitter’s rules on hate speech, having declared himself a strong believer in free speech. 

The billionaire has found himself in hot water previously for some of his views, including comments on transgender issues. 

In 2020, he tweeted that ‘pronouns suck’ – then hastily deleted the post and said: ‘I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare.’

He has also voiced support for Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who tabled the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Musk’s transgender daughter, Vivian Jenna Wilson, also cut ties with him earlier this year and said she ‘no longer [lives] with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form’.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk