Tesla and SpaceX owner Elon Musk has finally taken over the world’s most popular micro-blogging site, and his first move has been to remove its top executives.
Musk, who closed the deal on Thursday - one day before the court-imposed Friday deadline - immediately fired Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett, and legal affairs chief Vijaya Gadde. Media reports said they were escorted out of the company's San Francisco headquarters. Musk is expected to stand as CEO in the interim, but may eventually cede the role in the longer term.
The world’s richest man had accused Agrawal and Segal of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the social media platform.
Twitter, Musk, and the executives, however, did not come up with an immediate response to the development.
Last week, Twitter employees were put on edge by rumours that Musk plans to fire 75% of Twitter’s staff after he acquires the popular social media platform, which were dispelled almost as quickly by Edgett in a retrospectively ironic announcement.
Thursday’s firings, however, are sure to send anxiety among employees spiking again as Musk begins his takeover. Although rumours circulated in April that he already had a replacement CEO lined up, the identity of the candidate was never confirmed, and Agrawal dismissed suggestions that he might be removed. At this point, no clear succession plans for Twitter have been revealed.
In an open letter to Twitter advertisers on Thursday, possibly aimed at easing concerns that might hit the platform's revenue base, Musk said that much speculation about why he bought Twitter and what he thinks about advertising has been wrong.
“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. 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,” he wrote, echoing his previous insistence that the platform needs to be overhauled to enable free speech.
Musk said he didn’t buy Twitter to make more money. “I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognising that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility,” he wrote.
“That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, 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,” Musk added.
“Fundamentally, Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise. To everyone who has partnered with us, I thank you. Let us build something extraordinary together,” he concluded.
The tech billionaire on Wednesday posted a bizarre video of himself walking into Twitter’s San Francisco office holding a sink, which some viewers interpreted as a hidden message that he plans to 'get rid of everything right down to the kitchen sink' - a prediction that the sacking of the C-suite seems to bear out.