The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has completed his $44bn (£38.1bn) takeover of Twitter, according to US media and an investor in the social media firm.
Mr Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” in an apparent reference to the deal.
A number of top executives, including the boss, Parag Agrawal, have reportedly been fired.
Mr Agrawal and two other executives were escorted out of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Thursday evening, said Reuters.
The completion of the deal brings to an end months of legal wrangling but it has prompted questions over the platform’s future direction.
Chief financial officer Ned Segal, and the firm’s top legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde, are leaving alongside Mr Agrawal, according to US media reports.
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Meanwhile, Bret Taylor – who had served as Twitter’s chairman since last November – updated his LinkedIn profile to indicate that he was no longer in the post.
Mr Musk, a self-styled “free speech absolutist”, has been critical of Twitter’s management and its moderation policies.
They clashed over the terms of the takeover, with Mr Musk accusing Twitter of providing misleading information about the firm’s user numbers.
He has also said he would reverse bans on suspended users, which could include former US President Donald Trump, who was excluded following the Capitol riot in January 2021.
At the time, Twitter said there was a risk Mr Trump would incite further violence. But Mr Musk has described the ban as “foolish”.
It is not clear yet whether the clear out of senior management is the forerunner to company-wide job cuts. Earlier reports suggested 75% of staff at the social media company were set to lose their jobs but those reports were “inaccurate”, according to Ross Gerber, a shareholder in both Twitter and Mr Musk’s other company Tesla.
“There are a lot of talented people at Twitter, especially on the engineering side and they want to retain as much of that talent as possible,” Mr Gerber told the BBC.
He said apart from cutting management, Mr Musk might look to end projects “that aren’t going anywhere”.
The social media platform’s shares will be suspended from trading on Friday, according to the New York Stock Exchange’s website.
A long road
Until recently it appeared the deal could still fall through.
After building a stake in Twitter at the start of the year, Mr Musk made his $44bn offer in April, a price tag that looked too high almost as soon as it was agreed.
He said he was buying it because he wanted “civilisation to have a common digital town square” and said he planned to clean up spam accounts and preserve the platform as a venue for free speech.
But by the summer he had changed his mind about the purchase, citing concerns that the number of fake accounts on the platform was higher than Twitter claimed.
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Eventually Twitter executives took legal action to hold Mr Musk to his offer and while he recently admitted he and the other investors involved in the deal were “overpaying for Twitter right now”, the deal does now appear to have gone through.
But speculation continues around Mr Musk’s intentions for the platform.
Earlier this week, he changed his Twitter profile to read “Chief Twit” and some observers believe he will take the reins at the firm himself.
He also Mr Musk tweeted a video of himself walking into Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco carrying a kitchen sink with the caption: “let that sink in!”
There has been no comment yet from Twitter about its new management team, but whoever becomes its next chief executive, it is clear that Mr Musk will ultimately be in charge of the company.
He sat briefly on Twitter’s board earlier this year, and criticised the firm’s strategy.
In private messages revealed in court filings, Mr Musk talked about how Mr Agrawal didn’t understand how to fix the social media platform’s problems.
With Mr Musk at the helm, many people who have been banned for hate speech or disinformation may be invited back to the platform.
But Mr Musk has also posted that his plans for Twitter include more ambitious changes including “X, the app for everything”.
Some suggest this might be something along the lines of the hugely successful Chinese app WeChat, a kind of “super app” that incorporates different services including messaging, social media, payments and food orders.
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