Elon Musk takes control of Twitter and immediately ousts top executives : NPR

This image from Elon Musk’s Twitter page shows Musk entering Twitter headquarters carrying a sink through a hallway area on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 in San Francisco.


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This image from Elon Musk’s Twitter page shows Musk entering Twitter headquarters carrying a sink through a hallway area on Wednesday, October 26, 2022 in San Francisco.


Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and ousted the company’s CEO, chief financial officer and top lawyer, two people familiar with the deal said Thursday night.

People will not say if all the paperwork for the deal, which was originally worth $44 billion, was signed or if the deal was closed. But it said Musk was in charge of the social media platform and fired Parag CEO Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Chief Legal Counsel Vijaya Gadde. No one wants to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the deal.

The departures arrived just hours before the deadline set by the Delaware judge to finalize the deal on Friday. She threatened to schedule a trial if no agreement was reached.

While they come quickly, the big staffing moves have been much-anticipated and are almost certainly the first of many big changes the nimble Tesla CEO will make.

Musk had a private conflict with Agrawal in April, shortly before deciding to bid on the company, according to text messages later revealed in court filings.

Around the same time, he used Twitter to criticize Gadde, the company’s top lawyer. His tweets were followed by a wave of Gadde harassment from other Twitter accounts. For Gadde, an 11-year Twitter employee who also heads public policy and safety, the harassment included racist attacks and misperceptions, alongside calls for Musk to be fired. Teacher. On Thursday, after she was fired, the harassing tweets lit up again.

Musk’s changes will be aimed at increasing Twitter’s subscribers and revenue.

In his first big move earlier on Thursday, Musk tried to placate shrewd Twitter advertisers who said he was buying the platform to help humanity and didn’t want it to become a “local scene.” free prison for all”.

The message appears to address the concern of advertisers – Twitter’s main source of revenue – that Musk’s plan to promote free speech by cutting content moderation opens the risk of direct poisoning. online more and drive away users.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it’s important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square where a wide variety of beliefs can be debated in a healthy way without using to violence,” Musk wrote in an unusually long message to the Tesla CEO, who often expresses his thoughts in one-line tweets.

He continued: “There is now a great risk that social media will split into the echo chambers of the far right and the left, creating more hatred and dividing our society.”

Musk has previously expressed his distaste for advertising and Twitter’s reliance on it, suggesting a greater emphasis on other business models such as paid subscriptions that won’t let large corporations out. policies on how social networks work. But on Thursday, he assured advertisers he wants Twitter to become “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”

Pinar Yildirim, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said the note is a shift in Musk’s view that Twitter is unfairly violating freedom of speech by blocking misinformation. or objectionable content.

But people also recognize that not moderating content is bad for business, putting Twitter at risk of losing advertisers and subscribers, she said.

“You don’t want a place where consumers are simply bombarded with stuff they don’t want to hear about and the platform isn’t held accountable,” Yildirim said.

Musk said Twitter should be “warm and welcoming to everyone” and allow users to choose the experience they want.

A deadline to close the deal on Friday was ordered by the Delaware Premier Court in early October. It’s the latest step in a battle that began in April with Musk signing a deal to buy Twitter, then attempting to back out, prompting Twitter to sue the Tesla CEO to force him to take the deal. If the two sides fail to meet Friday’s deadline, the next step could be a trial in November that could lead to a judge forcing Musk to complete the deal.

But Musk has signaled that the deal will succeed. He strolled into the company’s San Francisco headquarters Wednesday carrying a porcelain sink, changing his Twitter profile to “Chief Twit,” and tweeted “Into Twitter HQ – let that sink in!”

And overnight, the New York Stock Exchange informed investors that it would suspend trading in Twitter’s shares before the opening bell on Friday in anticipation of the company going private. under Musk.

Musk is expected to speak directly to Twitter employees on Friday if the deal is finalized, according to an internal memo cited in several media outlets. Despite the internal embarrassment and low morale attached to concerns about layoffs or destruction of the company’s culture and operations, Twitter leaders this week at least welcomed appearances and messaging. by Musk.

Top sales manager Sarah Personette, the company’s chief customer officer, said she had a “great discussion” with Musk on Wednesday and appeared to confirm his Thursday message with Musk. advertisers.

“Our ongoing commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged,” Personette tweeted Thursday. “Toward the future!”

Musk’s apparent enthusiasm for visiting Twitter headquarters this week stands in stark contrast to one of his earlier suggestions: The building should be turned into a shelter for the homeless because it has so few employees. actually work there.

The Washington Post reported last week that Musk had told potential investors he plans to cut three-quarters of Twitter’s 7,500 workers when he becomes the company’s owner. The newspaper cited documents and unnamed sources familiar with the deliberation.

Musk spent months figuring out Twitter’s “spam bots” and sometimes making conflicting statements about Twitter’s problems and how to fix them. But he did share some specifics about his plans for the social media platform.

Thursday’s note to advertisers reveals a new focus on ad revenue, particularly the need for Twitter to deliver more “relevant ads” – which often means targeted ads based on the collection and analysis of users’ personal information.

Yildirim says that, unlike Facebook, Twitter hasn’t been good at targeting ads to what users want to see. She says Musk’s message shows he wants to fix that.

Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg said Musk has good reason to avoid a major shakeup to Twitter’s ad business because Twitter’s revenue has taken a hit from the weakening economy, months of uncertainty surrounding Musk’s proposed takeover, changing consumer behavior and the fact that “no other revenue stream awaits in the wings.”

“Even loosening content moderation on the platform is sure to spook advertisers, many of whom have found that Twitter’s brand safety tools fall short of that,” Enberg said. with other social platforms,” says Enberg.


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