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HomeTechETtech Explainer: How Elon Musk-Twitter saga unfolded amid top-level firing, leaked chats...

ETtech Explainer: How Elon Musk-Twitter saga unfolded amid top-level firing, leaked chats and more


The world’s richest person and tech billionaire Elon Musk finally closed the deal to acquire Twitter for $44 billion on Friday after almost seven months of dilly-dallying and keeping everyone on the tenterhooks, particularly Twitter employees and shareholders, with a ‘will-he won’t-he’ approach.

The Twitter-Musk saga reached some definite conclusion hours before the court-set October 28 deadline to close the deal.

Opening shots fired

Musk’s first action point came with the sacking of some of the top-level brass at Twitter, which included the Indian-origin CEO Parag Agrawal, Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal, policy, and trust; chief financial officer Ned Segal, who joined Twitter in 2017; and Sean Edgett, who was the Twitter’s general counsel since 2012.

Some media reports suggested that Edgett was escorted out of the Twitter office in San Francisco.

Read |
Elon Musk plans to take Twitter CEO role, reverse life bans

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While Musk told Twitter employees that he would not sack 75% of them – contrary to media reports – to quell their jitters and nerves, his actions to fire such high-profile employees is expected to bring back the anxiety on the office floors.

Bloomberg reported Musk would replace Agrawal and assume the role of the interim CEO till he found a successor, following which he might cease the role

Chats that sealed the fate of CEO

A series of
leaked conversations between Elon Musk, former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and cofounder Jack Dorsey on Twitter tells the nature of relation Musk and the now-ousted Agrawal shared from the beginning after the former announced his plans to acquire Twitter in April.

Also read | A series of chats that possibly sealed the fate of Twitter’s ex-CEO Parag Agrawal

What began with Musk and Agrawal both trying to accommodate each other’s suggestions of “making Twitter a better place” on April 7 turned sour over the next three weeks with Musk coming to an understanding that “Agrawal’s methods were too slow and that he wanted to make people happy would never be so”.

Following Musk’s tweet in May asking if Twitter was dying, Agrawal texted him saying he would like to give him a perspective on the level of internal distraction at Twitter and how it was hurting their ability to work.

Making his displeasure felt, he wrote, “You are free to tweet ‘Is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter – but it is my responsibility to tell you that it’s not making Twitter better in the current context.”

On Friday, the bitter relations eventually led to Musk sacking Agrawal.

Hefty severance package


According to research firm Equilar, which came out with a research in April shortly after Musk made his intentions to buy Twitter public, Agrawal would get an estimated $42 million if he were terminated within 12 months of a change in control at the social media company.

While Twitter had denied Equilar’s estimate, Agrawal could well go home with an exorbitant severance package after today’s developments.

Read |
Elon Musk says Twitter cannot be ‘free-for-all hellscape’, reveals why he bought it

Further, Equilar’s estimate included a year of Agrawal’s base salary along with accelerated vesting of all equity awards, based on Musk’s offering price of $54.20 per share and terms in the company’s recent proxy statement.

According to a Business Insider report, Segal is set to receive a $25.4 million payout for getting fired, while Gadde will leave with $12.5 million.

Reversing life ban

Musk’s plan for acquiring Twitter has been clear, or so has he maintained. He wants to make
Twitter an ‘epitome’ of free speech – something that he has spoken about time and again – by curtailing the content moderation policies at the microblogging platform.

This has prompted concerns that dialogue on the social network will deteriorate, eroding years of efforts by the company and its “trust and safety” team to limit offensive or dangerous posts, and reduce bullying and abuse on the platform.

Musk also intends to do away with permanent bans on users because he doesn’t believe in lifelong prohibitions. This could augur well for public figures such as former US President Donald Trump and Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut who have been banned from Twitter for their posts and tweets.

Add to it, his support of a far-right political candidate in Texas, and sexual harassment accusations from a former SpaceX flight attendant in May, which have raised eyebrows in the past and questioned his credentials to lead Twitter.

Twitter must comply with local rules: Indian minister

Musk’s takeover of Twitter will not change India’s expectation that it will
comply with the country’s rules for such companies, said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology, adding that India’s new IT rules would be out in days.

“Our rules and laws for intermediaries remain the same regardless of who owns the platforms,” said Chandrasekhar. “So, the expectation of compliance with Indian laws and rules remains.”

Twitter has had a few past run-ins with the Indian IT ministry that have only intensified over time.

Earlier this year in July,
Twitter approached the Karnataka High Court challenging 39 such blocking orders which had been issued by the IT ministry between February 2021 and June 2022.

In its petition to the high court, the platform had said that the blocking orders issued by the central government did not pass the test of “proportionality,” and that the blocking orders issued by the IT ministry are “manifestly arbitrary, and procedurally and substantially not in consonance” with Section 69A of the IT Act.





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