Elon Musk completed his A$68 billion Twitter takeover deal, firing the company’s CEO and financial chief and ending a lengthy tug of war with the social media firm’s board of directors just before a key deadline, according to a report.
Musk finally closed a deal to take the struggling social network late Thursday, ousting Chief Executive Parag Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources.
Mr Agrawal and Mr Segal were reportedly in the building when the deal closed and were “escorted from the building”.
Head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde, the woman who made the decision to suspend Donald Trump permanently from Twitter, was also reportedly fired.
The firing of Ms Gadde is being seen as significant because of Musk’s plans to bolster freedom of speech on the platform — a move that some believe could see the former US president’s account reinstated.
Her role included handling issues such as harassment, misinformation, and harmful speech. She is known for her involvement in decisions and policies taken by Twitter, such as the approach taken to issues such as harassment and harmful speech, and high profile decisions made by Twitter.
The tech giant blocked Trump’s Twitter handles for the first time in January last year, finally escalating its crackdown on his social media posts that they believe encouraged and supported rioters at the US Capitol.
Ms Gadde, the company’s head of Legal, Policy and Trust and Safety issues, took to Twitter and said “The account of @realDonaldTrump has been permanently suspended from Twitter due to the risk of further violence. We’ve also published our policy enforcement analysis —you can read more about our decision here.”
The agreement between Musk’s legal team and Twitter’s board was reached less than a day before the 5pm Friday deadline imposed by Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen McCormick. Without a deal, Musk and Twitter would have clashed on opposite sides of a November trial.
Under the deal’s terms, Musk will buy Twitter at the originally-agreed price of A$84.00 per share. Musk has vowed to take the company private and reshape the platform with an emphasis on free speech.
Musk signalled throughout the week that he intended to finalise the takeover deal. The eccentric billionaire changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit” and posted a video of himself barging into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters carrying a sink.
Musk’s involvement has renewed hand-wringing about Twitter employees who fear he will enact sweeping lay-offs and other cost-cutting measures while reshaping the company’s business.
The Tesla boss took steps to assure sceptics. During his office visit, Musk said he had no intention of slashing 75 per cent of Twitter’s workforce upon taking control, as the Washington Post had reported.
Musk also posted a lengthy message to Twitter’s advertisers, writing that he had no intention of turning the social media platform into a “free-for-all hellscape.” Critics had suggested that Musk’s aggressive stance on free speech would enable extremism voices to thrive on the platform.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilisation 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.
Musk’s co-investors, including Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, are contributing A$11 billion toward the deal. Banks including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are covering A$20.3 billion I debt financing.
During Tesla’s earnings call earlier this month, Musk admitted that he was “obviously overpaying” to buy the firm, but added he felt the “long-term potential for Twitter is an order of magnitude greater than its current value.”
While Musk’s long-term plans for Twitter are still murky, the executive has called the company an “accelerant” for his goal of creating an “everything app” called X. The app is widely expected to mirror the Tencent-owned social media app WeChat, which offers a wide array of services ranging from payments to food delivery and ride-sharing.
Earlier this month, Musk said acquisition of Twitter “probably accelerates X by 3 to 5 years, but I could be wrong.”
The closed deal followed a months-long saga that began in April, when Musk disclosed that he had taken a sizeable stake in Twitter. By April, Twitter’s board had accepted Musk’s offer to buy the company for A$84.00 per share, or A$68 billion.
Musk later attempted to back out of the agreement, citing concerns about the number of spam bots within Twitter’s user base and accusing the company of withholding key information about the issue. In July, Twitter’s board sued Musk in Delaware Chancery Court an effort to enforce the original A$68 billion deal by court order. As the trial approached, Musk reversed course again and signalled that he would honour the original agreement.
This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission.