You’re fired! Elon Musk’s $44bn Twitter takeover

You’re fired! Elon Musk’s $44bn Twitter takeover

Updated: 5 months, 6 hours, 47 minutes, 56 seconds ago

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The world’s richest man Elon Musk completed his £38 billion takeover of Twitter on Thursday and immediately launched a purge of the company’s top executives.

After months of uncertainty over the deal, the eccentric entrepreneur appeared to confirm it had finally been agreed, tweeting early this morning: “The bird is freed”.

Reports quickly emerged that Mr Musk, inset, had fired chief executive Parag Agrawal, legal chief Vijaya Gadde, chief financial officer Ned Segal and general counsel Sean Edgett as he bids to seize full control of the social media platform.

He is expected to take the company, which reported annual revenues of more than £4 billion in 2021, private. But the takeover has sparked fears that Mr Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” will now loosen moderation rules and lift the ban on former president Donald Trump as the United States prepares for mid-term elections early next month.

Mr Trump was removed from the site, which has more than 230 million users worldwide, following the Capitol Hill riot in January last year.

Today the Environment Secretary and former deputy prime minister Therese Coffey refused to comment on whether Mr Trump should be allowed to return but said she would be concerned by any changes which would allow hate speech to proliferate. Ms Coffey told Sky News: “As a politician sometimes it feels like an anti-social media site. It’s important people who have these platforms use them responsibly rather than to promulgate hate but it’s also important to have safety which is why we are carrying on with the online safety bill in Parliament next week.”

Professor Charlie Beckett, director of the Polis think-tank at the London School of Economics, told the Standard: “The US midterm elections are just a week away. If Musk lets Trump back on Twitter it will be a dramatic demonstration of his stated desire to shift Twitter away from moderating disinformation and speech that incites violence.

“But Musk also knows he needs to attract more advertisers and they won’t come if Twitter becomes even more rancorous.”

In an effort to ease concerns Mr Musk insisted in a post titled “Dear Advertisers” yesterday that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences”!

With a fortune of around £217 billion, according to Forbes and Bloomberg, the chief executive of electric car company Tesla and founder of Space X, is the richest man on the planet. But he has also had a colourful private life. He divorced his first wife Justine Wilson in 2008 after they had twins and triplets before twice marrying and divorcing the English actress Talulah Riley. Their on-off relationship finally ended in 2016.

Since then the billionaire has dated Johnny Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard and the Canadian singer Grimes with whom he has two children — a girl named Exa Dark Sideræl Musk and a boy called X Æ A-XII. He is also reported to have fathered twins with the Tesla executive Shivon Zilis — taking his total number of children to nine.

His political views and attempts at influencing sensitive geopolitical issues including the war in Ukraine and China’s aggressive stance towards Taiwan have also landed him in trouble. Mr Musk first agreed to buy Twitter for £38 billion ($44bn) in April but then walked away from the deal in July, claiming the company had misled him over the number of fake accounts on the site.

But with the two sides heading for court, Mr Musk U-turned again at the start of this month and — just ahead of a deadline set for later today by a court in Delaware — completed the purchase. Signs that the deal, which is yet to be officially confirmed, was nearing completion came earlier this week when Mr Musk was filmed walking into Twitter’s California HQ carrying a sink.

However City analysts questioned the price Mr Musk has paid for Twitter.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “With tech valuations tumbling everywhere you turn, $44 billion is an eye-watering price to pay for the platform, which is why there is so much surprise that the deal finally went through, especially following the twists and turn of the legal fight as Mr Musk tried to back out. Team Musk clearly believed the chances of the court ruling in his favour were slim, but his bout of buyer’s remorse may have damaged the company he will end up owning.”

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