NEW YORK, Oct 28: “The bird is freed,” billionaire Elon Musk tweeted on Friday after completing the whopping USD 44 billion takeover of Twitter and firing the social media giant’s four top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde.
The New York Times said that Musk, the world’s richest man, closed the deal to buy Twitter on Thursday.
“The bird is freed,” Musk, 51, tweeted, referring to Twitter’s popular logo, and indicating that he has closed the deal.
Citing people with knowledge of the situation, the report said that Musk “has started cleaning house at Twitter with the firings of at least four top executives”.
The Twitter executives who were fired include Agrawal, Gadde, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and General Counsel Sean Edgett.
“At least one of the executives who was fired was escorted out of Twitter’s office,” the report said.
The deal’s closing removes a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Twitter’s business, employees and shareholders for much of the year, 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 site’s 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.
Musk arrived at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco on Wednesday and had been meeting with engineers and advertising executives.
Musk tweeted a video of himself walking into Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco carrying a kitchen sink with the caption: “let that sink in!”
Musk also updated his Twitter description to “Chief Twit.”
Musk has promised to transform Twitter by loosening the service’s 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!”
“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 platform’s shares will be suspended from trading on Friday, according to the New York Stock Exchange’s website.
There has been no comment yet from Twitter about its new management team. (PTI)