SAN FRANCISCO, United States – Elon Musk became Twitter Inc’s owner on Thursday, firing top executives and providing little clarity over how he will achieve the lofty ambitions he has outlined for the influential social media platform.
The CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc and self-described free speech absolutist has, however, also said he wants to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.
Other goals include wanting to “defeat” spam bots on Twitter and make the algorithms that determine how content is presented to its users publicly available.
Yet Musk has not offered details on how he will achieve all this and who will run the company. He has said he plans to cut jobs, leaving Twitter’s 7,500 employees fretting about their future.
He also said on Thursday he did not buy Twitter to make more money but “to try to help humanity, whom I love.”
Musk fired Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, according to people familiar with the matter. He had accused them of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the platform.
Agrawal and Segal were in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters when the deal closed and were escorted out, the sources added.
Musk, who also runs rocket company SpaceX, plans to become Twitter’s CEO after completing the acquisition and also plans to scrap permanent bans on users, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Twitter, Musk and the executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Before closing the $44-billion acquisition, and never afraid to indulge in theatrics, Musk walked into Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday with a big grin and a porcelain sink, subsequently tweeting “let that sink in.” He changed his Twitter profile description to “Chief Twit.”
He also tried to calm employee fears that major layoffs are coming and assured advertisers that his past criticism of Twitter’s content moderation rules would not harm its appeal.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”Musk said in an open letter to advertisers on Thursday.
Twitter shares ended trade on Thursday up 0.3 percent at $53.86, just under the agreed price. The stock will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.