Elon Musk begins Twitter reign by firing CEO, top executives
Tesla CEO kicks off tenure as social media giant’s new owner by firing top leadership.
Elon Musk has kicked off his tenure as the new owner of Twitter by giving the boot to the social media giant’s top leadership.
After closing a $44bn deal to buy the company on Thursday, Musk swiftly fired three of Twitter’s most senior executives in a signal of his intent to put his stamp on one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.
Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal, policy and trust, were all shown the door, according to multiple media reports citing people familiar with the situation.
Sean Edgett, Twitter’s general counsel, was also given the sack, the Washington Post reported, citing an unnamed source.
Agrawal and Gadde were both reportedly escorted from Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters following Musk’s firing, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Twitter and Musk have yet to officially confirm the firings.
Musk, a self-described free-speech absolutist, had repeatedly clashed with the company’s leadership over their stewardship of the social media platform.
In April, the Tesla CEO tweeted a meme featuring Gadde’s face that suggested the platform’s moderation decisions are driven by left-wing bias.
Gadde has been a lightning rod for conservatives’ complaints about Big Tech’s censorship of their viewpoints. As Twitter’s top lawyer, the Indian-born executive made the decision to permanently suspend former United States President Donald Trump’s Twitter account over his alleged incitement of violence in the wake of the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
In May, Musk publicly clashed with Agrawal, tweeting a faeces emoji in response to a thread by the Twitter CEO that argued it was not possible to determine the true number of spam accounts on the platform. The exchange came after Musk attempted to back out of his $44bn deal to buy the company after accusing executives of concealing the number of bots and spam accounts on the platform.
Text messages made public during Twitter’s legal bid to enforce the original terms of the deal revealed terse exchanges between the two men over the direction of the company.
Before taking over from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey last year, Agrawal, who moved from Mumbai to the US in 2005, served as chief technology officer. In an interview with MIT Technology Review in 2020, he said he viewed the company’s role as to “focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed”.
In court documents filed earlier this month, Musk’s lawyers accused senior executives including Agrawal, Gadde and Edgett of directing Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko to destroy evidence of the company’s subpar cybersecurity policies.
While Musk’s exact plans for Twitter are not yet clear, the billionaire has criticised the platform’s moderation policies and stressed the need for a “common digital town square” where a wide range of views can be discussed.
Critics have warned that Musk’s takeover of Twitter could result in a surge in hate speech and misinformation, while conservatives have welcomed his purchase as a corrective to what they see as Silicon Valley’s stranglehold on political discussion online.