Elon Musk dissolved Twitter’s nine-person board on Monday, naming himself the sole director of the social media company that he officially acquired last week.
Later in the day, the billionaire responded to a Tweet which linked to a report about the dissolution of the Board saying that decision to do so was only “temporary.”
It remains unclear whether or not he meant that he planned to bring back ousted members or create a new Board with candidates of his choosing.
Still, he’s been doubling down on the other contentious decisions he’s made since his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company, including the concept of charging verified users a monthly fee to keep their blue checkmark.
Author Stephen King, an avid Twitter user with 6.9 million followers, was not amused.
“$20 a month to keep my blue check? F*ck that, they should pay me,” he said. “If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.”
Musk swiftly responded to King, explaining that he had a larger plan for charging the monthly fee and how it would ultimately help him in his overarching mission to rid the site of spam and bot accounts.
I will explain the rationale in longer form before this is implemented. It’s the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) Nov 1, 2022
Musk has reportedly been ousting top executives, though he denied via Twitter that any sort of mass layoffs were on the way for employees. However, also on Monday, the Washington Post cited sources that claimed that the plan for layoffs was in fact in motion, targeting 25% of Twitter’s workforce.
Musk’s takeover of the company has been full of controversy, prompting a slew of celebrities (notably Shonda Rhimes and Toni Braxton) and executives such as NBC executive producer Ken Olin to leave the platform. General Motors went so far as to suspend advertising on Twitter, citing Musk’s takeover as the primary reason.
“We are engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership,” the company said. “As is normal course of business with a significant change in a media platform, we have temporarily paused our paid advertising. Our customer care interactions on Twitter will continue.”
Musk has continued to remain active on the social media platform following his takeover.
Original story below.
“Let the good times roll.”
That seems to be the vibe of the reportedly new Twitter CEO, Elon Musk, as he starts his first day as owner of the social media platform.
let the good times roll
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Elon Musk’s long-awaited acquisition of Twitter finally closed on Thursday evening, securing his $44 billion purchase of the social media platform.
On Wednesday, Musk walked into Twitter HQ in Silicon Valley, while carrying a sink.
“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” he wrote in an attempt to be punny.
Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2022
The billionaire has wasted no time making big decisions and pledging further changes in the wake of his takeover, even taking to the platform himself to declare “The bird is freed,” in reference to Twitter’s logo which has helped the platform earn the moniker, ” the bird app.”
On Friday morning, it was reported that Musk had officially taken the title of CEO. If confirmed, Musk is now CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter.
Here’s what we know so far about Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Musk Fires Top Execs
Musk reportedly fired Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Twitter’s Chief of Policy and Legal Affairs Vijaya Gadde almost immediately upon the finalization of the deal.
Twitter CFO Ned Segal confirmed that he was fired via a lengthy Twitter thread on Friday morning.
Thursday concluded 5 years @twitter. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such an incredible group of people building the world’s town square for all of our stakeholders. The work isn’t complete, but we made meaningful progress.
— Ned Segal (@nedsegal) October 28, 2022
Segal did not directly mention Musk or the acquisition in his post.
Per ReutersAgrawal and Segal were at Twitter HQ in Silicon Valley when the deal was inked — with Musk also inside in the building — and upon dismissal from their roles, were escorted out of the building.
The aggressive move is not surprising as Musk and Agrawal have had a contentious relationship since the early days of Musk’s interest in purchasing the company.
Musk challenged Agrawal to a “public debate” in August about how the company was sourcing its information on how many spam and bot accounts are on the platform.
I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage.
Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2022
Still, Twitter execs aren’t walking away empty-handed. Agrawal is reportedly set to receive a payout of $38.7 million, followed by Segal who is set to receive $25.4 million. Gadde will also receive a payout of $12.5 million.
Are Twitter Layoffs on the Horizon?
A report earlier this week by the Washington Post claimed that Musk had plans to lay off a staggering 75% of Twitter employees, roughly 5,600 workers, which would bring the total number of Twitter employees to around 2,000 people by the end of the year. There are currently around 7,500 Twitter employees.
The report cited documents and interviews with people close to the matter, noting that even before Musk’s reported decision to incite mass layoffs, Agrawal and other top leadership had already set in motion plans to cut company payroll by around $800 million by the end of the year . This would cost Twitter an estimated 25% of its total workforce.
However, upon Musk’s entrance into Twitter HQ on Wednesday, he reportedly told employees that the 75% figure was wrong and denied his plans to release such a massive number of employees.
The sources add that the information has not yet been made public and chose to remain anonymous.
A More Personalized, Less-Censored Environment
in an open letter to advertisers on Thursday, Musk shared his motivations for acquiring Twitter and his plans for the future of the platform.
“It is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk wrote. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
He did clarify that the platform would not become a ruleless “free-for-all hellscape.”
Musk went on to tell potential and current advertisers that he aims to make the Twitter user experience more personalized, by allowing users to choose their own preferences as to what content is surfaced including advertisements that are relevant to their interests and needs.
A War on Spam
The billionaire has been vocal since day one about his distaste for the alleged high number of spam and bot accounts on Twitter, which was his original reason for wanting to back out of the deal in May.
Musk has maintained that Twitter and top execs (including Agrawal) have been dishonest about the number of these fake accounts on the website, something Twitter whistleblower and former head of security Peiter Zatko confirmed in testimony against the company.
Zatko claimed that Twitter did not have a solid security plan in place to protect the platform from spam and bot accounts while also noting that the company was more focused on user growth than removing potentially harmful accounts.
During an interview on the red carpet at the Met Gala in May, Musk doubled down on his distaste for these accounts and his plans to remove them as swiftly as possible.
“I’ve also vowed this publicly that we have to get rid of the bots and trolls and the scams and everything, because that’s obviously diminishing the user experience, and we don’t want people getting tricked out of their money and that kind of thing,” Musk told reporters. “I’m definitely on the warpath, so if somebody’s operating a bot or troll on me then I’m definitely their enemy.”
Musk has not clearly laid out a plan for what exactly he plans to do in order to clear the house of these accounts but the billionaire has made it clear that this will be a priority for him moving forward in his ownership of the company.
Twitter shares were frozen on Friday as the deal between Twitter and Musk closed.
Will Banned Accounts Be Coming Back?
A source according to Bloomberg also said that Musk has plans to remove life bans from users who had been removed from the platform, something that could bring the most contentious of past Twitter users back.