Elon Musk takes control of Twitter and immediately fires top executives

The Tesla and SpaceX founder has closed the $44-billion deal to buy the social media company after a seven-month tug of war

Elon Musk at a gaming convention in Los Angeles.

Elon Musk is now the owner of Twitter. He closed the deal on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco and immediately fired the company’s top executives, CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and Chief Legal Counsel Vijaya Gadde, who will walk away with multimillion-dollar severance packages. The New York Stock Exchange announced it will suspend trading in Twitter shares in anticipation of the company going private under Musk.

The deal brings an end to a seven-month tug of war that began when Musk, the founder and largest shareholder of Tesla and SpaceX, began buying shares in the company. On April 4, Musk revealed that he had acquired a 9.2% share in the social media company. The billionaire, who has 110 million followers on Twitter, also began to tweet about the company’s business, platform and functionality.

After revealing his stake in the company, Musk accepted an offer from Twitter’s board and management to join its board of directors. But just a day later, it was revealed that he had changed his mind and did not want a board seat, meaning he could buy no more than 14.9% of Twitter’s shares.

Speculation grew about Musk’s intentions. And finally, on April 14, Musk announced his plans to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share – $44 billion in total. “My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder,” he said in his offer.

On April 15, the Twitter board adopted a plan to shield the company from a hostile takeover, but also began to study Musk’s offer. On April 25, Musk and Twitter signed the takeover deal.

Musk celebrated the deal in a message on Twitter, in which he stated his plans to tackle “spam bots” and improve account verification. But while Musk recognized Twitter’s bot problem from the start, he then tried to use it as a reason to back out of buying the company. In May, the 54-year-old said he was putting the deal on hold and would not go through with the sale if Twitter could not show that less than 5% of accounts were fake. This turnabout took place as the economy took a turn for the worse. Tech stocks stumbled due to falling ad revenue, and the $44-billion price tag for Twitter began to seem excessive.

On July 8, Musk officially announced that he was withdrawing from the buyout deal on the grounds that Twitter had too many fake user accounts. Twitter responded by suing him for breach of contract. The dispute was gearing up to be the lawsuit of the century. But three weeks ago, Musk did another U-turn and announced that he would buy Twitter for the agreed price of $54.20 per share, on condition that a trial for breach of contract, at which Musk was called to testify on October 18, be called off.

This week, it was revealed that Musk and his team met with banks to discuss how to finance the $44-billion buyout deal. He also changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit,” and visited the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in,” he wrote in a message on Twitter, in which he shared a video of himself entering the building with a literal sink. “Meeting a lot of cool people at Twitter today!” he added.

The business tycoon is also set to address Twitter staff on Friday, according to a message sent by a directive to employees, which was published by the Bloomberg new agency. “Elon is in the SF office this week meeting with folks, walking the halls and continuing to dive in on the important work you all do,” the sender, who Bloomberg identified as Twitter Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland, wrote in the email. “For everyone else, this is just the beginning of many meetings and conversations with Elon, and you’ll all hear from him directly on Friday.”

The arrival of Musk is a cause for concern for workers, given he has announced plans to cut 75% of the workforce, which now numbers around 7,500. Musk also wants to increase revenue and explore subscription options. Staff who work in content moderation may be axed, as Musk has framed his interest in Twitter as about protecting “freedom of speech” – even if that leads to a surge in disinformation, fake news and hate speech. The Tesla founder, for instance, has said he is in favor of lifting the ban on former US president Donald Trump, who now spreads misinformation on his own social network, Truth Social. But it is not clear if Trump even wants to return to Twitter, given that would mean the end of his alternative platform.

Musk has also expressed an interest in turning Twitter into some kind of all-in-one app. “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” he posted on Twitter, after resuming his bid to acquire the platform. Musk didn’t offer any other information, but has expressed admiration in the past for the Chinese WeChat app, which evolved from a messaging service to a multinational platform with payment, e-commerce, health, subscription management and other services used by the Chinese in their daily lives.

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