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Elon Musk begins takeover of Twitter as top executives including Parag Agrawal fired, report says

Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover is underway after he fired three top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal, according to the Washington Post.

The billionaire is also said to have sacked chief financial officer Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, head of legal policy, trust, and safety, and general counsel Sean Edgett, as he moved ahead with his $44bn purchase of the social media company.

At least one of the fired executives was immediately escorted out of Twitter’s office, a source told The Washington Post.

The Tesla CEO, who has changed his Twitter description to “Chief Twit” had until Friday to complete his deal for the San Francisco-based platform or face a court battle to try and back out of the purchase.

Mr Musk arrived at the company’s headquarters on Wednesday carrying a sink and met with engineers and advertising executives before the firings became public on Thursday evening.

“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” the world’s richest person tweeted with a video of him in the lobby of the building on Wednesday.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Musk wrote a message to advertisers saying that the platform would not become “a free-for-all hellscape.”

“I wanted to reach out personally to share my motivation in acquiring Twitter. There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Most of it has been wrong,” he said.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence. There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”

Mr Musk is funding his purchase with $13bn of bank loans with the world’s richest person paying the rest through Tesla stock and other personal wealth.

The world’s richest person renewed his attempt to buy the company earlier this month after trying to back out of the purchase.

Mr Musk agreed to buy the company for $54.20 a share in April, but by July had indicated that he had changed his mind, citing bot and spam issues.

Twitter then sued him in Delaware Chancery Court to force the deal to go through. In his letter to Twitter, Mr Musk agreed to pay the full price but said that was contingent on securing the necessary funding to pay it.

“The intention of the company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share,” Twitter said in a statement after receiving the letter.

During Tesla’s quarterly earnings call last week, Mr Musk admitted that he was “obviously overpaying” for San Francisco-based Twitter.

But he said that he was “excited about the Twitter situation” and described the company as an asset with “incredible potential” that has “sort of languished for a long time.”

Mr Musk has suggested that buying Twitter is the first step in creating an “everything app” he calls X, which could be modelled after China’s WeChat.

He has also hinted that the platform will protect free speech and allow the return of banned users such as Donald Trump, whose account was locked after the January 6 insurrection by his supporters.

The Independent has reached out to Twitter for comment.

Mr Musk’s path to becoming head of Twitter is more convoluted than other takeovers, as may be expected by a billionaire who said he would take Tesla private at $420 per share in 2018 because, as the Securities and Exchange Commission would write, “he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture.”

In April, Mr Musk purchased 9.1 per cent of Twitter, and the company offered him a seat on its board – which would restrict him to buying up to 15 per cent of the company.

Mr Musk accepted, then declined, the seat, before offering to then purchase the entire company.

What Mr Musk wanted to do with Twitter was then hotly debated around his moderation policies and spambots.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”, Mr Musk said in his announcement.

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

Since that statement, Mr Musk proclaimed his approach to free speech: “If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect,” Mr Musk said on Twitter. “Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”