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Elon Musk acquires Twitter, fires CEO Parag Agrawal and top officials

Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, completing his $44 billion acquisition of the network after more than six months of public and legal wrangling over the deal.

Among Musk’s first steps — a change in leadership. He fired CEO Parag Agrawal, who went to court to enforce the terms of the deal he tried to escape. Other departures include Vijaya Gadde, head of legal, policy and trust; CFO Ned Segal, who joined Twitter in 2017; and Sean Edgett, who has been Twitter’s general counsel since 2012. Edgett was reportedly escorted out of the building.

Shareholders will be paid $54.20 per share and Twitter will now operate as a private company. The completion wraps up a convoluted saga that began in January.

Agrawal stepped into the CEO role in November when co-founder Jack Dorsey unexpectedly resigned. Agrawal had been at Twitter for nearly a decade, most recently as chief technology officer, but his run as CEO was quickly disrupted by the arrival of Musk as a major shareholder and an increasingly vocal opponent of current management.

After Musk came along, it became clear that Agrawal was unlikely to keep his job. “I don’t have confidence in management,” Musk said in one early filing about the deal, and the two executives exchanged several public barbs. In May, Musk responded to a Twitter thread from Agrawal defending the company’s user metrics by tweeting back a poop emoji.

Text messages revealed during the lawsuit show the two men had a contentious exchange early in the deal process after Musk asked his followers if Twitter was “dying.”

Agrawal confronted him via text. “You can tweet ‘is twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter,” he wrote on April 9, “but it’s my duty to tell you that it’s not helping me improve Twitter in the current context.” Musk replied, “What did you do this week?” And then, “I’m not joining the board, it’s a waste of time.”

The following week, Musk mocked Agrawal in a message with a friend for vacationing in Hawaii while the deal was being negotiated. “Shouldn’t he be in the war room right now?!?” investor Jason Calacanis sent Musk a message. “Does the occasional zoom while drinking fruity cocktails at the Four Seasons count?” Musk replied.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s efforts to reconcile Musk, a longtime friend of Dorsey’s, and Agrawal after the deal was announced also ended badly. “At least it turns out you can’t work together,” Dorsey texted Musk after the group call. “That was a clarification.

Agrawal will not leave empty-handed. As part of the transaction, the CEO will take 100% of his unvested equity awards, according to the filing. Research firm Equilar estimates that means he will earn an estimated $42 million, Reuters reported.

As Twitter’s head of legal and policy affairs, Gadde oversaw the creation and enforcement of rules for hundreds of millions of Internet users, including prominent ones subject to looser content restrictions under the company’s exemptions for news posts or communications from world leaders. In acquiring Twitter, Musk promised to make it a less restrictive platform for free speech, a move he said was “necessary for a functioning democracy.”

Gadde was hit with a barrage of online abuse earlier this year after Musk publicly criticized content-related decisions on Twitter. The company permanently banned former US President Donald Trump in January 2021 after his supporters attacked the Capitol. Musk’s statements leading up to his purchase of the social media company led many to expect the billionaire to restore Trump’s account and reinstate other users who have been blocked for violating rules about offensive or dangerous content.

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