A kitchen sink. Otherwise living a very specific purpose in its existence. Not interesting enough for any conversations. Now, the harbinger of change? The visuals of Elon Musk (posted from his own Twitter account first, mind you) walking into the Twitter headquarters holding what looks like a fairly heavy (and literal) kitchen sink, say a lot without a word being said. Two ways of looking at it – letting it sink in, as Musk hopes, that the Twitter deal is finally done and dusted; and secondly, he’ll likely throw the kitchen sink at it to get the social media platform molded according to his vision.
The wheels are in motion, for the latter. After months of verbal volleys, legal skirmishes, and a lot of posturing in public (by that, we mean the town square Twitter is supposed to be), the $44 billion deal is finally complete. In the first big move, after likely keeping the sink safely someplace, was to let go a bunch of senior executives. That list is believed to include the company’s CEO, Parag Agrawal.
Also Read: For Twitter boss Elon Musk, now comes the hard part
At the time of writing this and for whatever it is now worth, the Twitter website still lists all the executives who have reportedly been fired or have left, at their last held positions.
Those who’ve reportedly followed Agrawal walking out of the Twitter HQ include Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, Vijaya Gadde who was Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust as well as Sean Edgett, the general counsel. There are reports Chief Customer Officer Sarah Personette has also left.
Handsome payouts have been given to the now former Twitter executives, for their troubles. Insider reports that Agrawal has received $38.7 million, Segal given $25.4 million, Gadde receiving $12.5 million, and Personette getting $11.2 million. That’s a combined payout of close to $88 million, though Twitter has not officially confirmed these figures.
Twitter has not shared an official statement on any changes in employment contracts for the top leadership.
Personette’s departure from Twitter, if true, is even more surprising. A day earlier, she had tweeted, “Had a great discussion with @elonmusk last evening! Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged. Looking forward to the future!”
The timing of this change of mind, and change of heart, is interesting. Ever since Musk changed his mind about the offer to buy Twitter earlier this year, there has been no hiding the fact that his legal team had been hard at work trying to identify an exit plan. Musk, after making up his mind, perhaps decided he was overpaying for Twitter.
In fact, Musk was expected to depose earlier this month in courts, something his legal team had in mind as the final pieces of the takeover puzzle were quickly put in place. There were indications of some Signal messages that Musk is believed to have deleted, which would have otherwise been relevant to Twitter vs. Elon Musk, in the Delaware Chancery Court.
Question marks remain about what exactly Musk intends to do with Twitter. There are persistent reports of Musk intending to reduce the Twitter staff by as much as 75%.
On the platform itself, there could be significant changes with content policies and how moderation works. There will of course be action against bots and scam accounts, something Musk has referred to many times in the last few months. In fact, the actual percentage of bot accounts (Twitter insists these are less than 5% of their total user base) was mentioned as one of the reasons why Musk wanted to walk away from the deal.
Quite how Musk intends to deal with the bots and spam accounts, will only become clear in the coming months. It’ll also dictate the path for Twitter’s revenue increase and profitability.
The discussion about content moderation inevitably drives the conversation towards the question – will Donald Trump’s ban be reversed? In May, in an interview, Musk had hinted at as much. “I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” he had said.
Musk has also spoken in the past about an app, simply called X, the inspiration likely to be WeChat. “You basically live on WeChat in China,” he had said to Twitter employees in his first Q&A with Twitter employees, over the summer.
There’s a lot that’s still to be revealed about the path that Twitter will take. In all likelihood, with Elon Musk at the helm, Twitter is most certainly going to look very different from what it does today, twelve months down the line.