Elon Musk’s dad joke of letting it "sink in" on Twitter headquarters that he had taken over the social media platform got a lot more serious as the world’s richest man settled into his first day in his new self-professed role of ‘Chief Twit’, leading to the exit of the company’s top three executives.
Media reports say that CEO Parag Agarwal and CFO Ned Segal, who were at the San Francisco headquarters of Twitter when the $44 billion deal finally concluded, were escorted out of the building after the papers were signed. Vijaya Gadde, Head of Legal policy, trust and safety was also let go, as reported by several news outlets.
The dramatic entry of Musk and the exit of its top leadership comes after months of acrimony and public feuding between Musk and Agarwal and much back and forth by the former, all of which led to Twitter stock swinging like a pendulum.
Musk, who says he bought Twitter for the good of humanity and wants to cement the platform as the world’s digital public square, has long been a radical advocate of free speech, even as critics have questioned the fairness of the world’s richest men controlling all means of public discourse.
While Twitter has a relatively small user base of 230 million users globally, it is a very active base, which includes many of the world’s most powerful political leaders, business heads, celebrities and other policymakers and public influencers. Indeed, people are waiting to see how soon Musk will reinstate former US President Donald Trump, whose account had been permanently suspended for spreading misinformation and inciting violence, something Musk had promised to do upon completing his purchase of Twitter.
Musk’s often radical ideas of free speech and freedom of content have caused much anxiety for corporations, both large and small, who advertise on Twitter to a highly engaged user base. Just last month, up to 30 major advertisers pulled out of Twitter, after their ads reportedly appeared next to media and tweets depicting child exploitation.
In an apparent move to appease both present and future advertisers, Musk posted a long message on the platform yesterday, positing how he wanted to make Twitter “the most respected advertising platform in the world” and would not allow it to degenerate into a “free-for-all hellscape”, despite his affinity for free speech.
Advertisers, agencies and audiences are watching and waiting. Stay tuned for more.