The twisting saga of Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter ended late Thursday, with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO closing on the $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform.
Musk marked the occasion, as he has so many other milestones on the tumultuous journey, with a tweet.
“[T]he bird is freed,” he wrote.
On Thursday night, Musk began the process of cleaning house, according to The New York Times.
Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO; Ned Segal, its chief financial officer; Vijaya Gadde, head legal and policy executive; and Sean Edgett, general counsel, were all booted, according to the report, which quoted sources it did not name.
At least one of those fired was escorted out of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.
Musk has made it clear he wants the social media platform to be a forum for open discussion — something it has drifted away from in recent years as it silenced conservative voices.
Many Twitter users on the right reacted happily to the deal’s closing.
As that last tweet indicated, those on the left were less enthusiastic about Musk’s purchase.
The company also has some internal changes to make, including dissolving the current board of directors.
As noted by the Times, Musk will be owning Twitter as a privately held company, which means the dialogue between the company and the outside world could be radically changed with it not having to report to shareholders.
For Twitter, the purchase came as the company was going to fall far short of its revenue targets for the year, the Post reported.
The company had been planning major cuts to staff — including third-party contractors who serve as content moderators — to reduce labor costs by $700 million.
The Times noted that having Musk at the pinnacle of Twitter caused an outbreak of fretting among those who fear unbridled speech will cause problems.
“There could be real-world consequences to his leadership,” said David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who worked with the United Nations on issues of free speech. “To the extent that world leaders see they have this space and it’s unmoderated, they could push to see how far they can go.”
“It’s a ‘back-to-the-future’ reversion to content rules circa 2010, but one that ignores the lived experience over the last decade,” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s former head of global public policy, who left the company in 2019. “People eventually realize that the Wild West needs a sheriff, both for ensuring the safety of citizens but also for enhancing the prospects for commerce.”
Musk addressed that in a message to advertisers on Thursday.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he wrote.
“In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature,” Musk said.