Twitter was a sitting duck: Social media expert
Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal and Chairman Bret Taylor told employees on Monday that the social network will keep operating as usual -- including with Agrawal at the helm -- until the deal to sell the company to Elon Musk for US$44 billion closes later this year.
The deal was signed Monday morning, Agrawal told workers, adding that Musk’s transaction to take the company private could take as long as six months to complete, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting’s details. The CEO told staffers there would be no job cuts “at this time,” and when asked about a potential hiring freeze, Agrawal said the company was still working through hiring plans before the deal officially closes.
Agrawal held an all-hands meeting Monday afternoon via video to explain the Twitter board’s decision to sell the company to the billionaire Tesla Inc. CEO. Musk, the world’s richest man, who plans to purchase Twitter for US$54.20 per share, was notably absent from the call. Agrawal was joined by Taylor, who is also Salesforce Inc.’s co-CEO, but no other board members were in attendance, including former CEO and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
Twitter employees have been living in a state of uncertainty for weeks since Musk announced his offer to acquire the social networking service. Musk is an avid Twitter user, often criticizing the company from his Twitter account, and many people dismissed his early efforts to buy the company as a kind of joke. But Musk eventually secured financing to complete a deal, prompting the board to seriously consider his offer.
The twists and turns left many employees confused and frustrated over the past few weeks. Many employees internally have been vocally opposed to a Musk deal, worried that Musk’s brash, combative style will hurt company culture and alienate some employees. One employee who spoke with Bloomberg estimated that just 10 per cent of Twitter workers would be excited about Musk acquiring the company.
In an email to employees earlier in the day, Agrawal noted that the deal is a “significant change and you’re likely processing what this means for you and Twitter’s future.” He reiterated during the meeting that the company was entering a period of uncertainty.
Musk has been vocal about his intention to make Twitter a haven for freedom of expression, and has derided content-moderation decisions the platform has made in the past. That has led to speculation that a Musk-owned Twitter might allow more offensive or dangerous content to proliferate on the site.
On Monday, Agrawal acknowledged that will be Musk’s choice, saying the company makes decisions for the health of the public conversation every day, according to one person on the call. Once the deal closes, he told workers, he doesn’t know which direction the platform will go.
Agrawal reassured employees that their stock grants, which can make up a large part of compensation, will continue to vest in the meantime. Taylor also spoke at the beginning of the call, explaining the board’s fiduciary duty. He said that Twitter’s board would no longer exist after the deal is finalized.