Elon Musk closes Twitter deal, fires top executives immediately

Elon Musk has several Twitter Inc. shares after taking over the company, ending an unusual corporate battle and potentially setting up one of the world’s most influential social media platforms for sweeping changes, according to people familiar with the matter. fired his manager.

Mr. Musk fired Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal after the deal closed, the people said. Mr. Musk also fired Twitter’s senior legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde, and general counsel Sean Edgetti. Twitter spokespeople had no comment.

Ask the WSJ

The Musk-Twitter Deal

WSJ Finance Editor Charles Forelle sits down with WSJ reporter Alexa Corse, who covers Twitter, to discuss Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter on October 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET. What does the future hold for the platform? So what does the deal mean for Mr. Musk’s business empire?

A few hours after these actions, Mr. Musk tweeted “the bird is free” in an apparent reference to Twitter, which has a blue bird as its logo. The Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed on Thursday that the deal had closed and that Twitter is now part of Mr. Musk’s X Holdings I Inc.

Mr Musk first agreed to buy Twitter for $44bn in April, then threatened to walk away from the deal before reversing course this month and promising to see the buyout through. He had previously expressed his displeasure with some of the higher-ups on Twitter, at one point replying to Mr Agrawal’s tweet with a poo emoji. He also used the site to mock Ms Gadde, the top legal boss, by tweeting an image overlaid with text reiterating allegations that Twitter has a left-wing political bias.

It was not immediately clear who would fill the top positions left vacant in Thursday’s speeches. CNBC previously reported the departures of Mr. Agrawal and Mr. Segal.

The deal, which would see Twitter become a private company again, adds to Mr. Musk’s extensive business portfolio, which also includes running Tesla. Inc.,

the world’s most valuable car company and rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX, among other endeavors. Mr. Musk, who became Twitter’s largest individual shareholder, previously said he would pay for the acquisition mostly in cash, with some contributions from fellow investors and $13 billion in debt.

There were signs this week that Mr Musk was closing in on acquiring the social media platform by 5pm on Friday. The Wall Street Journal reports that banks have started sending money to support the deal. Mr. Musk also changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit,” showed himself visiting the social media platform’s San Francisco headquarters, and issued a statement on Twitter explaining his vision for the site to advertisers.

The deal ends a months-long saga over whether Mr. Musk will buy the company. The acquisition also puts one of the world’s most popular social media platforms under the control of the world’s richest man, with implications for the future of online discourse.

A self-described free-speech absolutist, Mr. Musk has vowed to limit content moderation in favor of emphasizing free speech. However, this approach may cause conflicts with some advertisers, politicians and users who prefer a more controlled platform.

Elon Musk completed the deal for Twitter a day before the deadline set by the court.


Carina Johansen/NTB/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

In a message to advertisers on Twitter on Thursday, Mr Musk said he was buying the company to “have a common digital town square where broad beliefs can be discussed in a healthy way”. He said Twitter “can’t turn into a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said without consequence!”

Mr Musk said the platform should be “warm and welcoming for everyone” and suggested Twitter could “allow people to choose the experience you want based on your preferences, like you can choose to watch movies or play video games for all ages”. did catch up.”

Mr. Musk’s decision to take over Twitter came two weeks before a trial in Delaware over the stalled deal began. The judge presiding over the legal battle agreed to stay the proceedings, allowing Mr. Musk to ask for more time to complete the takeover. The judge gave Mr. Musk until Oct. 28 to comply with his offer, or he said he would schedule a trial in November.

Mr. Musk offered to buy Twitter in April for $54.20 a share, higher than the company’s valuation at the time. In the months since the deal was closed, Twitter has faced efforts by Mr. Musk to renege on the deal, a whistleblower complaint by Twitter’s former security chief accusing the company of security and privacy problems and failed negotiations for a lower price. Mr. Musk.

The New York Stock Exchange has suspended trading of Twitter shares since Friday. The stock closed Thursday at $53.70.

Mr. Musk’s takeover raises big questions about the platform’s future, including how it will revamp its business model and implement the changes it proposes to curate content.

Like other social media companies, Twitter relies heavily on digital advertising and has faced headwinds in recent months due to widespread economic uncertainty. The deal will also saddle it with billions in debt, and payments on those loans will create additional costs for a company that has suffered losses in eight of its last 10 fiscal years.

As a result of the deal, Twitter will face billions of dollars in debt.


Godofredo A. Vasquez/Associated Press

The deal turned into a wild business drama with little precedent. Mr. Musk moved to buy Twitter in April. After signing the merger agreement, he accused the company of misrepresenting the proliferation of fake and spammy accounts on its platform, which Twitter denied.

He tried to formally back out of the deal in July, prompting Twitter to sue him to enforce the original merger agreement. Mr. Musk reciprocated.

In early October, Mr. Musk abruptly dropped his legal battle with Twitter without public explanation. After the reversal, he wrote on Twitter that “buying Twitter accelerates the creation of Xi, the everything app.” He previously suggested he might start a social media platform called X.com if he doesn’t buy Twitter.

Eric Talley, a law professor at Columbia University, said after the most recent meeting that several factors weighed against Mr. Musk, including court rulings denying some of Mr. Musk’s discovery requests. Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, who oversees the case, called some of the information requests “absurdly broad.”

“He spent months trying to find ways out of this deal,” Mr. Talley said. “All these windows started to close, and some closed completely.”

Vijaya Gadde, a senior Twitter executive who Elon Musk mocked on the site, is among the ousted executives.


Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg News

Mr. Musk’s specific plans for the company remain unclear. He may return Twitter to public ownership in a few years, the magazine previously reported.

By taking Twitter private, the billionaire entrepreneur is likely to take more risks to get the company off the ground. “It’s going to be bumpy,” said Youssef Squali, lead internet analyst at Truist Securities. “He could take it over a couple of years, really redesign the whole thing,” Mr. Squali said.

Mr. Musk has suggested that he wants to move Twitter away from its advertising-heavy business model and focus more on subscriptions to other forms of revenue. In the second quarter of this year, more than 90% of Twitter’s revenue came from advertising.

He said he would allow former President Donald Trump to return to the platform, although Mr. Trump has said he has no intention of returning to the platform. Twitter banned Mr Trump after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, citing the company’s risk of further inciting violence.

“Twitter is clearly not going to become a right-wing madhouse. We aim to be as inclusive as possible,” Mr Musk said in a message released as part of the legal battle.

The prospect of Mr. Musk taking over Twitter, as well as the subsequent uncertainty surrounding the deal, has rattled many Twitter employees. Twitter told employees they would hear from Mr. Musk on Friday, according to an internal memo reviewed by the Journal.

write to Alexa Corse at alexa.corse@wsj.com

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