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Musk Consolidates Power at Twitter After Board Is Dismissed

(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk consolidated his control of Twitter Inc. on Monday after the entire board was dismissed.

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Musk, 51, completed his purchase of Twitter last week for $44 billion and immediately started molding the company to his liking. One of the first steps he took was to fire four of the most senior executives of the company, including Parag Agrawal, the chief executive officer. Calling himself Chief Twit, Musk plans to effectively run the company himself in the immediate term, people familiar with his plans have said.

On Monday, Musk became the sole director of the social media company after the removal of all nine other board members, in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement, according to a securities filing. It wasn’t clear who Musk would nominate to fill the board. At the other companies he runs, including Tesla Inc., the boards are packed with Musk loyalists. His brother Kimbal Musk, is a board member at Tesla, for example.

As a result of the closing of the merger, Twitter will purchase outstanding 3.875% senior notes due 2027 and 5% senior notes due 2030 at an offer price of 101% of principal plus accrued and unpaid interest, according to the filing. The bond agreements required Twitter to offer to buy back its debt in the event of a change in control of the company. Musk has also asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit over his attempt to pull out of the acquisition now that the deal has closed.

Musk’s first few days on the job have been filled with rumor and speculation, including about how he will handle content moderation on Twitter and how many jobs he’ll cut in an effort to control costs. Concerns over massive layoffs swirled in the run-up to Musk’s take-private transaction, when potential investors were told that he’d eliminate 75% of the workforce. Musk later denied that the cuts would be that deep, though he hasn’t elaborated on the plans. In recent weeks, Musk has hinted at his staffing priorities, saying he wants to focus on the core product.

Just three days in to his new job, the billionaire’s views on content moderation were also being tested after he posted and deleted a tweet spreading a baseless anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory about the recent attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The episode underscored the pressures that Musk, a self-styled “free speech absolutist,” now faces in running the popular social media website — particularly in how to place limits on misinformation and hate speech on its service. Musk has pledged to advertisers that Twitter won’t become a “free-for-all hellscape” under his leadership but at the same time pronounced that unfettered speech should be the norm on the site.

Musk has also been busy making changes to the Twitter product. He has told engineers to work on rebooting the looping-video app Vine, Axios reported, and he apparently wants to take away the blue badges of verified users if they don’t pay as much as $20 a month for the site’s new subscription service Twitter Blue, according to reports in The Verge and Platformer.

–With assistance from Kurt Wagner and Davey Alba.

(Updates with reports of Vine comeback and the cost of the blue check in final paragraph.)

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