Elon Musk Takes Over Twitter, Fires CEO, CFO and Legal Head

The billionaire is making good on this threat to fire top management and reduce payroll

Elon Musk attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 22, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

Elon Musk took control of Twitter Thursday night and immediately fired the social platform’s CEO, CFO and head of legal policy, trust and safety.

In addition, sources told Bloomberg that Musk will assume the position of CEO, though he may hand the position to someone else in the future. According to Bloomberg, Musk also plans to reverse lifetime bans that the site has handed out — which could pave the way for the return of President Donald Trump and others who have been denied access to the platform. Whether Musk will reverse all lifetime bans — which have been enacted against users for violating rules against misinformation of fomenting of violence — is not known.

CEO Parag Agrawal; chief financial officer Ned Segal; and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust and safety were the first to be axed, according to The Washington Post, as well as Sean Edgett, the company’s general counsel. The former executives were “hastily shuttled from the building,” according to the Post.

Before the $44 billion sale went through, Musk had trumpeted his plans to shake up Twitter both in terms of content moderation and business operations. Last week, The Washington Post reported that Musk told potential investors that he plans to cut nearly 75% of the company’s 7,500 workers, as well as make major cuts to infrastructure and data centers that are essential to keep Twitter functioning.

A former Twitter executive who oversaw spam and health metrics, Edwin Chen, who is now CEO of content moderation startup Surge AI, told the Post that while he believed Twitter was overstaffed, “the cuts Musk proposed were ‘unimaginable’ and would put Twitter’s users at risk of hacks and exposure to offensive material such as child pornography.”

“It would be a cascading effect,” Chen said, “where you’d have services going down and the people remaining not having the institutional knowledge to get them back up, and being completely demoralized and wanting to leave themselves.”

Paul Barrett, deputy director and senior research scholar at the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, predicted, “Musk will fire most of Twitter’s top management and begin to substantially reduce its payroll, meaning that there will be fewer people on staff devoted to promoting trust and safety.” He also predicted that “hundreds, if not thousands, of Twitter employees will not wait to be fired” and will quit in droves.

Many Twitter users have also stated their plans to leave the service once Musk assumed control.

Musk, who had tried to back out of the deal, showed up at the company’s San Francisco offices unexpectedly on Wednesday holding a sink. “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” Musk wrote on Twitter alongside a video of him surveying his newly purchased company.

As part of his takeover, the billionaire Tesla CEO took the company private — paying shareholders $54.20 a share, a 64% premium over where Twitter stock was worth when the sale was announced in April.

Musk put up about $27 billion in cash to fund the deal, most from selling Tesla stock last spring, with $13.5 billion from bank loans and another $5 billion from elite investors like Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

According to The Post, he plans to hold a companywide town hall on Friday, the day the court had set for the completion of the deal.