Several reports say that Elon Musk has taken over Twitter and fired its CEO and at least two other top executives.
The Associated Press heard Thursday night from two people who knew about the deal that Twitter’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, as well as its CFO and top lawyer, had been fired.
The sources wouldn’t say if all the paperwork for the deal, which was originally worth $44 billion, had been signed or if the deal had closed. But they said that the social media platform is run by Musk. Because the changes in staff were so sensitive, neither source wanted to be named.
CBS News asked Twitter for a comment, but they didn’t answer right away. However, Musk tweeted late Thursday that “the bird is freed,” referring to Twitter’s famous logo and showing that he was in charge.
The move to close the deal came a day before a court-ordered deadline. It was the end of a tumultuous six-month process in which the billionaire made a surprise offer to buy Twitter in the spring, but then changed his mind and said he was pulling the offer in July.
The speed with which he fired Twitter’s top two executives is a sign that big changes are coming to the social media company. No one knows where Musk, a serial entrepreneur whose businesses have changed the payment, auto, and space exploration industries, will take Twitter next.
Now Comes The Tough Part
We’ve already talked about how easy it was for Musk to buy Twitter, said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives in a report. “Fixing this troubled asset will be hard, and it will feel like climbing Mount Everest.”
Ives also said that the $44 billion price tag “will go down in M&A history as one of the most overpaid tech acquisitions.” He thinks that Twitter is worth more than $25 billion.
With Musk in charge, everyone will be looking to see what he can do to speed up Twitter’s growth, which has slowed down a lot in recent years. The Washington Post said last week that this could mean firing up to three-quarters of Twitter’s employees right away. Musk has said many times that he paid too much for Twitter. To balance the books, he might be tempted to cut labor costs.
More difficult will be coming up with a plan to grow Twitter, which only has about 238 million regular users compared to the millions of people who use Facebook and TikTok. Musk has talked in the past about making a “super app” (which he has also called “X app”) like WeChat, which is used in China for everything from banking and getting a ride to buying groceries and talking to friends.
Ives said, “Musk took over Twitter last night, and now there are a lot of big questions about how the platform will change, how it will try to make money, how many jobs will be cut, and what the long-term plan is for the ‘X’ app and building a possible WeChat model in the future.”
How Musk might change Twitter’s rules for users is also something we don’t know yet. In April, when he started his unsolicited bid, he talked about how the company had the “potential to be the platform for free speech around the world.” He also said that Twitter in its current form “will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative.”
Musk, on the other hand, has a benefit in that when he buys Twitter, he also makes it private. That means the company won’t have to tell the public about its financial results, how it pays its employees and other things that are required by law for publicly traded companies to say in their securities filings.
And since there are no public shareholders, Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan, says that Twitter’s leaders won’t have to steer the company in a way that makes investors happy as much.
Will Trump Come Back?
This could mean letting former President Donald Trump back on Twitter. He was banned from the platform for good last year after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, because of the risk of more violence.
“I am very happy that Twitter is now in good hands and won’t be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs who really hate our country,” Trump said in a post on Truth Social on Friday. Truth Social is a conservative social network that Trump’s media company backs. “Twitter needs to work hard to get rid of all the bots and fake accounts that have caused it so much trouble. It will be a lot smaller, but better.”
Musk, on the other hand, was giving signs that the deal would go through. He carried a porcelain sink into the company’s headquarters in San Francisco on Wednesday, changed his Twitter name to “Chief Twit,” and tweeted, “Entering Twitter HQ—let that sink in!”
Overnight, the New York Stock Exchange told investors that it will stop trading Twitter shares before the opening bell on Friday. This is because Musk wants to take the company private.
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