- Billionaire investor Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and swiftly fired the social media giant’s CEO Parag Agrawal and CFO Ned Segal, according to reports late Thursday from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal citing people with knowledge of the situation and people familiar, respectively.
- The long anticipated closing of the the on-again off-again deal comes roughly six months after Musk — the world’s richest man — agreed to acquire and take private the company for $44 billion. Agrawal and Segal were escorted out of the building after the closing Thursday, The New York Post reported.
- The clash between the mercurial Elon Musk and a number of top Twitter executives has been evident for months, both in court and on the social media platform itself. Musk added some fuel to the fire taking a victory lap of sorts this week: he tweeted a video of himself walking into Twitter headquarters carrying what appeared to be a white sink, and stated: “Entering Twitter HQ - let that sink in!”
It’s hardly surprising that Musk is cleaning house. Tensions have been rising since early in the negotiations, with Agrawal even referring to himself as a “lame-duck” CEO. Twitter also went to court in July to force Musk to close the transaction, filing a complaint that painted a picture of senior Twitter executives caught in the crosshairs dealing with an adversarial buyer.
Agrawal, 37, was appointed as Twitter’s CEO in November 2021 after then CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down, according to the company’s April proxy filing.
Segal, 47, has served as CFO for just over five years, according to the proxy. Before joining Twitter Segal held various finance roles including as senior vice president of finance at Intuit, CFO of RPX as well as positions at Goldman Sachs, according to the proxy.
Earlier this year experts differed as to whether Segal was likely to remain at Twitter’s finance helm. Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told CFO Dive in May that Musk would “clear the decks once he takes over.” Others said Segal’s institutional knowledge would be too great for Musk to pass up.
But Musk and Twitter executives have increasingly locked horns in the run-up to the closing.
For a period of time Musk attempted to walk away from the deal, citing concerns about the number of fake Twitter accounts. His attorneys fired off a letter “terminating the agreement” and asserting Twitter appeared to be “dramatically” understating the proportion of false accounts and complaining that Twitter had not yet provided complete information to enable Musk to do a comprehensive review of the issue. Twitter has stated that the bots represent less than 5% of its accounts.
In its suit filed in July, Twitter asked the Delaware Court of Chancery to force the billionaire to close the transaction following “a long list of material contractual breaches by Musk that have cast a pall over Twitter and its business.” In its complaint, Twitter asserted Musk was aware that spam accounted for some portion of its daily usage when he signed the merger agreement but was grasping “for an out.”
By Friday morning, Segal had updated his Twitter account’s bio. It states: “Former CFO and current fan of @Twitter” although he retained additional information that describes him as dad, husband, proud San Franciscan, Giants fan, chocolate chip cookie connoisseur.
Meanwhile Musk, whose account identifies him as “Chief Twit,” tweeted “The bird is freed,” suggesting that the deal is closed. But Agrawal’s Twitter bio still states he is “ceo @twitter.”
Separately, a few Twitter users have pointed to Segal’s social media posts earlier this week about an earthquake in San Francisco, suggesting that in hindsight it was a forboding sign of what was to come. “Earthquake at the headquarters,” one Twitter user replied.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.