New Era Begins for Twitter as Elon Musk Acquires Company

Elon Musk took control of Twitter on Thursday, completing the historic $44 billion acquisition of the social micro-blogging platform. After some housekeeping — including carrying a sink into the company’s San Francisco headquarters for a cheeky video-op (“let that sink in!”) and firing top executives including CEO Parag Agrawal — the recalcitrant tech magnate began settling into his new role. Updating his bio to reflect his chosen title of “Chief Twit,” he tweeted off a letter assuring advertisers that Twitter will not “become a free-for-all hellscape” with no content moderation.

On Friday, Musk hung with the gang at Twitter’s coffee bar, offering assurances that he did not, as previously reported, intend to lay off 75 percent of the 7,500-person staff, according to Bloomberg. Musk apparently stopped short of promising no layoffs, however, “causing anxiety among workers,” Bloomberg says.

Musk is expected to eventually replace Agrawal, but “is expected to remain CEO in the interim” while continuing to helm both Tesla and SpaceX, writes Fortune.

In addition to Agrawal, The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter’s CFO Ned Segal, head of legal and policy Vijaya Gadde and general counsel Sean Edgett were among the high-level executives to get the early axe. Gadde was instrumental in having “permanently suspended” Donald Trump in the wake of the 2021 Capitol insurrection, acting in concert with then-CEO Jack Dorsey, according to The Washington Post.

Musk will be obligated to pay more than $204 million to Agrawal, Segal and Gadde as a result of termination, according to MarketWatch, citing a Twitter filing with the SEC.

Musk, “a self-described free-speech absolutist,” per Reuters, “was deluged with pleas and demands from banned account holders and world leaders” shortly after taking over. While some are reporting Twitter’s new influencer in chief intends to do away with lifetime bans, Musk seems to be in no hurry, tweeting Friday that “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”

CNBC reported Friday that shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., the SPAC lined-up to take Truth Social parent Trump Media & Technology Group public, “rose Friday as Elon Musk took the reins at Twitter.”

Despite saying he hopes to make Twitter “the most respected advertising platform in the world” in his letter to advertisers (reprinted in full in The Street), “at least one major automaker, GM, said it temporarily paused its advertising and was working to ‘understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership,’” reports Reuters.

Employees are also eager to get a read on that. Musk was expected to formally address staff at an all-hands meeting on Friday, but employees who spoke to Reuters “said they had not received any notice by the late afternoon.”

At that time, “Musk’s teams were investigating Twitter’s code and asking questions about how aspects of the platform work,” Reuters reports, adding that the billionaire “appeared to have joined the company’s Slack channel by Friday, according to a screenshot.”

Twitter’s share price rose close to Musk’s takeover price of $54.20 per share as news of the deal’s conclusion spread, with the stock hitting $53.98 on Thursday, ticking down slightly before being halted Friday, when the New York Stock Exchange filed notice with the SEC that the stock will be delisted on November 8.

Musk offered to buy Twitter in April, then tried to pull out of the deal as tech stocks declined. In July, Twitter sued Musk to keep the deal on track.

On Tesla’s Q3 earnings call October 19, Musk said he was “excited about the Twitter situation,” calling it “an asset that has sort of languished for a long time, but has incredible potential,” according to Barron’s.

While Musk at various points expressed he thought he was overpaying, and tried to renegotiate the price, The Washington Post says he recently “took solace in his debt and equity commitments, which locked him in to the deal on favorable terms that might not be otherwise available” while also becoming “excited by his plans for the site.”

Sparks Fly as Musk Moves Fast to Remake Twitter, The New York Times, 10/31/22
Twitter Is Drafting Broad Job Cuts in Whirlwind First Weekend Under Elon Musk, The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/22
Elon Musk Fired Twitter Execs ‘for Cause’ to Avoid Paying Out Tens of Millions in Severance, Business Insider, 10/30/22
Musk’s Free Speech Plans for Twitter Clash with EU Content Rules, Bloomberg, 10/29/22
Elon Musk’s First Test of How to Handle Misinformation on Twitter Is Not Going Well, Quartz, 10/31/22
Musk’s Twitter Roils with Hate Speech as Trolls Test New Limits, Bloomberg, 10/29/22
Meta’s Oversight Board Open to Discussing Content Moderation with Twitter, Reuters, 10/28/22
Twitter Is Planning to Start Charging $20 per Month for Verification, The Verge, 10/30/22
Elon Musk Could Move Twitter to Austin, Axios, 10/31/22
Crypto Exchange Binance Is Creating a Team That Aims to Help Twitter with Things Like Bots, Bloomberg, 10/29/22
GM Pauses Ads on Twitter After Elon Musk’s Acquisition, The Verge, 10/29/22
Twitter Drops Ticketed Spaces to Focus on Other Live Audio Features, Engadget, 10/28/22
Celebrities Say They’re Quitting Twitter as Elon Musk Takes Over: “I’m Out of Here”, The Hollywood Reporter, 10/28/22
Welcome to Hell, Elon: You Break It, You Buy It, The Verge, 10/28/22

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