Elon Musk's Twitter takeover begins with top executives gone

San Francisco, California - Billionaire Elon Musk on Thursday closed the $44-billion deal to acquire Twitter and began cleaning house.

Elon Musk reportedly kicked off his Twitter takeover by firing several top executives.
Elon Musk reportedly kicked off his Twitter takeover by firing several top executives.  © REUTERS

Musk completed the transaction on Thursday night, US outlets including the Washington Post and CNN said. He had until Friday to do so or face a court battle.

The Post and CNN reported, each citing multiple unnamed sources, that the Musk era at Twitter started with the firing of chief executive officer Parag Agrawal, finance chief Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy. The New York Times reported that four top executives were fired.

Shortly after the reports broke, Musk tweeted "the bird is freed."

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The Twitter logo is a blue bird and Musk had repeatedly stated that he wanted to free the social media platform from restrictions on freedom of expression that, in his view, are currently too strong.

Earlier in the day, Musk released an open statement to advertisers to explain his reasons for acquiring the platform, which include "to help humanity."

"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," the billionaire said, explaining his concern that social media has the power to "generate more hate and divide our society" into extremist echo chambers.

In the letter titled Dear Twitter advertisers, Musk said that "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences." Instead, as he wants it to be "warm and welcoming to all."

Elon Musk plans to make some big changes at Twitter

Elon Musk is expected to introduce himself to Twitter employees on a larger scale on Friday.
Elon Musk is expected to introduce himself to Twitter employees on a larger scale on Friday.  © REUTERS

Musk mentioning the deal in the past tense ignited speculation of an announcement on the sale being imminent.

A court had previously set a Friday deadline to finally settle the takeover after months of wrangling.

Musk initially agreed to purchase Twitter in April. Later in July, he said the agreement was invalid due to the company's alleged misrepresentations about fake accounts.

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Twitter sued to enforce the purchase agreement, and a court case was scheduled to resolve the dispute. At the beginning of October, however, Musk renewed his purchase offer.

In recent days, it become apparent that Musk has accepted his new role as Twitter's owner. He now refers to himself as "Chief Twit" on his Twitter profile.

On Wednesday, he showed up at the company's headquarters in San Francisco. According to US media, he plans to introduce himself to the employees on a larger scale on Friday.

This is not likely to be an easy job for Musk, as he has been publicly critical of the company and its leadership for months and recent reports of large-scale job cuts have caused uncertainty among employees.

"I didn't do it because it would be easy," he said in his Thursday announcement. "I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility."

Musk has long justified his purchase by citing the need to protect and strengthen freedom of speech. He even said he would let former president Donald Trump, who was banned for his role in inciting violence at the US Capitol, back onto the platform.

Critics are concerned that the change in ownership will result in less moderated content on the network and encourage hate speech, something which may scare away advertisers.

Advertising revenue accounts for practically all of Twitter's revenue.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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