The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has completed his $44bn (£38.1bn) takeover of Twitter. Mr Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” in an apparent reference to the deal.
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
A number of top executives, including the boss, Parag Agrawal, have reportedly been fired.
Mr. Agrawal and two other executives were escorted out of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Thursday evening, said Reuters.
The completion of the deal brings to an end months of legal wrangling but it has prompted questions over the platform’s future direction. Chief financial officer Ned Segal, and the firm’s top legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde, are also leaving alongside Mr. Agrawal.
Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone, appeared to confirm the executives’ departure. In a tweet, he thanked all three for their “collective contribution to Twitter”, calling them “massive talents” and “beautiful humans”.
Elon Musk has been critical of Twitter’s management and its moderation policies in the past. He has also said he would reverse bans on suspended users, which could include former US President Donald Trump, who was excluded following the Capitol riot in January 2021.
At the time, Twitter said there was a risk Mr Trump would incite further violence. But Mr Musk has described the ban as “foolish”.
Earlier this week, Mr Musk said that he doesn’t want the platform to become an echo chamber for hate and division. “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell-scape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he tweeted.
The takeover has prompted discussion among Twitter users over what the platform will look like under Musk’s ownership.
There are fears that more lenient free speech policies would mean people banned for hate speech or disinformation may be invited back to the platform. As well as Mr Trump, that could include political extremists, QAnon loyalists and Covid-19 deniers.
Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market tweeted “In Europe, the bird will fly by our EU rules” suggesting regulators will take a tough stance against any relaxation of Twitter’s policies.
Elon Musk, as well as being the world’s richest person with $250bn to his name, is a controversial figure.
He made his fortune through the electric car company Tesla, and space exploration firm Space X. But he has drawn additional attention by his outspoken intervention in unrelated matters, often using Twitter as the platform, ranging from geopolitical issues such as the war in Ukraine to the rescue of the schoolboys trapped in a Thai cave.
It is not clear yet whether the clear out of senior management is the forerunner to company-wide job cuts. Earlier reports suggested 75% of staff at the social media company were set to lose their jobs but those reports were “inaccurate”, according to Ross Gerber, a shareholder in both Twitter and Musk’s other company Tesla.
“There are a lot of talented people at Twitter, especially on the engineering side and they want to retain as much of that talent as possible,” Mr Gerber told the BBC.
But he said the job losses could nevertheless extend far beyond upper management. Elon Musk might look to cut product managers and end projects “that aren’t going anywhere” he said.
He sat briefly on Twitter’s board earlier this year, and criticised the firm’s strategy.
In private messages revealed in court filings, Elon Musk talked about how Mr. Agrawal didn’t understand how to fix the social media platform’s problems. He has also posted that his plans for Twitter include more ambitious changes including “X, the app for everything”.
Some suggest this might be something along the lines of the hugely successful Chinese app WeChat, a kind of “super app” that incorporates different services including messaging, social media, payments and food orders.
Culled from the BBC