‘The bird is freed’, so are its top executives: Elon Musk fires Parag Agrawal, 3 others

Agrawal, who was appointed Twitter’s chief executive last year, had clashed with Musk publicly and privately in recent months about the takeover

'The bird is freed', so are its top executives: Elon Musk fires Parag Agrawal, 3 others

A combination photo of Parag Agarwal (L) and Elon Musk (R)

Twitter’s transfer of hands was completed on Friday morning after billionaire Elon Musk announced the whopping USD 44 billion takeover with the tweet “The bird is freed”. With this came the immediate firing of the social media giant’s four top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal and legal executive Vijaya Gadde.

The New York Times said that Musk, the world’s richest man, closed the deal to buy Twitter on Thursday. Citing people with knowledge of the situation, the report said that Musk has started cleaning house at Twitter with the firings of at least four top executives.

The Twitter executives who were fired include Agrawal, Gadde, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and General Counsel Sean Edgett.

At least one of the executives who was fired was escorted out of Twitter’s office, the report said.

The deal’s closing removes a cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Twitter’s business, employees and shareholders for much of the year, CNN commented.

After initially agreeing to buy the company in April, Musk spent months attempting to get out of the deal, first citing concerns about the number of bots on the platform and later allegations raised by a company whistleblower.

Agrawal, 38, was appointed Twitter CEO in November last year after the social media site’s co-founder Jack Dorsey had stepped down.

An IIT Bombay and Stanford alumnus, Agrawal had joined Twitter over a decade ago when there were fewer than 1,000 employees at the company.

Agrawal, who was appointed Twitter’s chief executive last year, had clashed with Musk publicly and privately in recent months about the takeover, the NYT report said.

Musk also singled out Gadde, 48, criticising her for her role in content moderation decisions at the company, it added.

As the Twitter account of former US President Donald Trump was permanently suspended in January last year, Hyderabad-born Gadde was at the forefront of this dramatic decision undertaken within days of the attempted insurrection by pro-Trump supporters at the US Capitol.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone thanked Agrawal, Segal and Gadde for their “massive contribution” to the business.

“Thank you to @paraga, @vijaya , and @nedsegal for the collective contribution to Twitter. Massive talents, all, and beautiful humans each!” Stone tweeted.

The world’s richest man and CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc has become Twitter Inc’s new owner and the self-described free speech absolutist fired top executives, including chief executive Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde.

“How does it matter to government who owns what. Our laws and rules are applicable to platforms regardless of who owns it or who doesn’t own it,” Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar told PTI in reply to a specific question on the ownership change at Twitter.

Musk’s claim of allowing free speech on the platform has enthused many, particularly those who were banned by Twitter for violation of rules.

Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, who was banned from Twitter last year for violating its rules on hateful conduct and abusive behaviour, took to Instagram on Friday to hail articles about Musk’s takeover.

She re-shared a fan’s post in which he asked Elon Musk to restore the actor’s account. Musk, who is the world’s richest man, had in April made an unsolicited take-it-or-leave-it USD 44 billion takeover offer.

India is one of the largest markets for social media companies, and Twitter is no exception.

Twitter has millions of users in India – a country that offers a huge potential market for all internet giants not just in terms of users but also advertising.

But the microblogging platform has had confrontations with the government, the most recent being compliance with the new IT rules.

Musk himself had a track record of standoffs with the government over import duties. Telsa wants higher import duties slashed, a move opposed by local companies.

Starlink, a part of Musk’s SpaceX, was barred in November 2021 from accepting pre-orders for its satellite broadband services in India without a licence.

Government sources said Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink has applied for a licence now.

Twitter is extensively used by several government handles, politicians and businesses as a medium of disseminating views and information.

Notably, Musk’s takeover comes at a time when India is all set to tweak IT rules to make way for the setting up of grievance appellate panels that will be able to review content moderation decisions by social media companies like Twitter and Meta.

(With PTI inputs)

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