Elon Musk has completed his $44 billion (£38 billion) takeover of Twitter and ousted its top three executives. His first move after taking control was to fire the social media company’s top leadership, which he accused of misleading him over the number of spam accounts on the platform.
Musk sacked chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and general counsel Vijaya Gadde, according to two people familiar with the deal.
Sources on Thursday night (early Friday morning in the UK) would not say if all the paperwork for the deal had been signed or if it had been closed, but they said the South Africa-born entrepreneur was in charge of the firm and had dismissed three of its top staff.
The billionaire appeared to confirm his takeover after tweeting “the bird is freed” shortly before 5am (UK time) on Friday. His comment also gives a nod to Musk’s chief criticism of the social media platform about its policing of “free speech”. He has also updated his bio on the platform to “Chief Twit” in a further nod to the deal being completed.
Musk is expected to speak to Twitter employees directly on Friday if the deal is finalised, according to an internal memo cited in several media outlets.
Despite internal confusion and low morale tied to fears of layoffs or a dismantling of the company’s culture and operations, Twitter leaders this week have at least outwardly welcomed his arrival and messaging.
On Thursday, Musk posted a statement aimed at Twitter’s advertisers where he said he was acquiring the platform because he believed it was important to have a space where “a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner”.
The comment came after the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla boss posted a bizarre video of himself entering Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday carrying a sink alongside the message “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in”.
Musk reportedly told staff during his visit that it was not true that he was planning on cutting up to 75% of Twitter staff after acquiring the company. It had previously been reported that he had told investors he planned to cut around three-quarters of the firm’s 7,500 employees.
Staff, Twitter users and industry experts are waiting to see what plans Musk has for the platform. The billionaire has previously spoken of his belief in “absolute free speech” and suggested he would allow previously suspended and often controversial figures, including former US president Donald Trump, to return to the platform, which has alarmed online safety campaigners.
There have been reports that many staff plan to leave the company once the takeover is completed and some security campaigners have warned that Twitter could become an easy target for hackers in the aftermath of the deal and as Musk restructures the firm.
Musk has also spoken of removing all spam and bot accounts from the site, and using Twitter as part of a so-called “everything app” called X, where users are able to access a wide range of services in one place.
This is similar to WeChat in China, where users are able to access social media, online shopping and money transfer, taxi hire, restaurant booking and more from within one app.