Bird is freed: Elon Musk takes over Twitter, fires Parag Agarwal

'Bird is freed': Elon Musk takes over Twitter, fires Parag Agarwal

Billionaire Elon Musk has finally taken control of Twitter after firing its top officials, media reports said late on Thursday.

Reports said Musk on Thursday fired Twitter’s chief executive Parag Agarwal, the company’s chief financial officer Ned Segal and head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde.

Bloomberg said, Sean Edgett, who has been general counsel at Twitter since 2012 was also sacked.

New York Times reported that the top executives were sacked as soon as the deal was completed. The daily said that one of the executives was also escorted out of the Twitter office after being fired.

Parag Agarwal had taken Musk to court after the latter tried backing out from his promise to take over the microblogging site.

Reports said Agarwal and other Twitter colleagues were sacked hours before the Friday deadline fixed by the court for Musk to seal the USD 44 billion deal, ended.

Also read: Elon Musk plans to cut 75% of Twitter workforce: Report

“The bird is freed,” Musk tweeted on Friday after completing the takeover.

Citing people with knowledge of the situation, The New York Times said that Musk has started cleaning house at Twitter with the firings of at least four top executives.

The deal’s closing removes a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Twitter’s business, employees and shareholders for much of the year, the CNN commented. After initially agreeing to buy the company in April, Musk spent months attempting to get out of the deal, first citing concerns about the number of bots on the platform and later allegations raised by a company whistleblower.

Agrawal, 38, was appointed Twitter CEO in November last year after the social media sites co-founder Jack Dorsey had stepped down. An IIT Bombay and Stanford alumnus, Agrawal had joined Twitter over a decade ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees at the company. Agrawal, who was appointed Twitter’s chief executive last year, had clashed with Musk publicly and privately in recent months about the takeover, the NYT report said.

Musk also singled out Gadde, 48, criticising her for her role in content moderation decisions at the company, it added. As the Twitter account of former US President Donald Trump was permanently suspended in January last year, Hyderabad-born Gadde was at the forefront of this dramatic decision undertaken within days of the attempted insurrection by pro-Trump supporters at the US Capitol.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone thanked Agrawal, Segal and Gadde for their “massive contribution” to the business. “Thank you to @paraga, @vijaya, and @nedsegal for the collective contribution to Twitter. Massive talents, all, and beautiful humans each!” Stone tweeted.

Also read: ‘Plot twist’: Will Elon Musk close Twitter deal before Oct 28 deadline?

On Wednesday, Musk had posted a video showing him strolling into Twitter headquarters ahead of the Friday deadline.

Musk also changed his Twitter profile to refer to himself as ‘Chief Twit’ and his location as Twitter headquarters, which is based in San Francisco. The video showed him carrying a sink through a lobby area.

“Entering Twitter HQ let that sink in!” he tweeted.

During his visit to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, Musk had been meeting with engineers and advertising executives.

Musk has promised to transform Twitter by loosening the services content moderation rules, making its algorithm more transparent and nurturing subscription businesses, as well as laying off employees.

In April, Twitter accepted Musk’s proposal to buy the social media service and take it private. However, Musk soon began sowing doubt about his intentions to follow through with the agreement, alleging that the company failed to adequately disclose the number of spam and fake accounts on the service.

When Musk said he was terminating the deal, Twitter sued the billionaire, alleging he refuses to honour his obligations to Twitter and its stockholders because the deal he signed no longer serves his personal interests.

Earlier in October, Musk said he wanted to pursue his acquisition of Twitter at the original price of USD 54.20 a share if the social messaging service dropped its litigation. Twitter’s lawyers said that the Tesla CEO’s proposal is an invitation to further mischief and delay.

A Delaware Chancery Court judge eventually ruled that Musk had until October 28 to cement the Twitter deal or head to trial. On Thursday, Musk wrote a message to reassure advertisers that social messaging services wouldn’t devolve into a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.

Also read: Explained: Twitter’s good, bad bots and Elon Musk’s demand for ‘proof’

“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,” Musk said in the message.

There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far-right wing and far left-wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society. The social media platforms shares will be suspended from trading on Friday, according to the New York Stock Exchanges website.

(With inputs from agencies)

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