Finally, Elon Musk has closed the $44 billion Twitter deal and officially took the company as the owner late Thursday bringing a new dimension to one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.
Musk also took some immediate steps by firing several longtime top Twitter executives. This information was obtained from three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
They said chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust, and safety, were let go. Also Sean Edgett, the company’s general counsel, was also pushed out, one of the people said. The top executives were hastily escorted out of the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
Musk’s moves late Thursday signal his intentions to firmly put his stamp on Twitter. Musk has publicly criticized the company’s outgoing management over product decisions and content moderation, as well as saying he would restore former president Donald Trump’s account.
Still, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” Musk tweeted Thursday, in a post offering assurances to advertisers.
Late in the evening, he tweeted, “the bird is freed.”
The closure of the deal ended a months-long, roller-coaster saga in which the billionaire — the world’s richest person — conducted a hostile takeover to buy Twitter at an inflated price, only to renege on the deal and then enter into a bitter legal battle with the social network.
But in recent days, Musk appeared resigned, and even enthusiastic, about his impending ownership. He showed up at the company’s offices unexpectedly Wednesday, carrying a sink to suggest that the message that he would become owner needed to “sink in,” according to a photo he posted to his more than 100 million Twitter followers.
He also plans to hold a companywide town hall Friday. Twitter also is expected to become private Friday, dissolving its current board of directors and ending public trading of its stock.
Neither Twitter nor the executives responded to requests for comment.
The moves place the heralded entrepreneur at the helm of one of the world’s most powerful communication platforms just days ahead of major elections in the United States and Brazil.
Musk, a transportation magnate who is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has offered some clues about what he would do when he took over Twitter — despite having no experience running a social media service.
He has suggested that he wants to loosen standards for the policing of harmful content such as misinformation and hate speech. He has also decried so-called censorship by social media companies.
Some right-wing influencers, who celebrated Musk’s ownership on Thursday night, have seen their follower counts balloon since he announced his takeover.
“The bird is free, now free the GOAT,” tweeted Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), tagging @realdonaldtrump. The acronym stands for “greatest of all time.”
Musk has repeatedly criticized the company and supported online attacks against individual executives. He has told potential investors and partners that he wants to execute a financial turnaround of the company by firing nearly 75 percent of its workforce and leaning into new business opportunities, including having people subscribe to exclusive content from popular influencers on the service.
Musk represents a different kind of owner than Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, or his now-rival Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, who generally try to stay politically neutral.
Over the course of his Twitter bid, Musk has at times styled himself as a moderate, but he also announced that he would vote Republican in the 2022 midterms and was leaning toward voting for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president in 2024. He has also weighed in on geopolitical conflicts between China and Taiwan and on the Ukraine war.