Former Twitter Top Executive Takes Shot at Elon Musk

Twitter’s former CFO speaks publicly after being fired by the billionaire.

Twitter’s top executives were silent on their last day as the social networking company became private in a $44 billion takeover by billionaire Elon Musk.

Several executives were fired immediately by Musk, who also is the CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report. In his first hours running Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Report, the world’s richest man, fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal along with Chief Legal Counsel Vijaya Gadde, a source told TheStreet. 

Sean Edgett, the general counsel, was also fired, according to the New York Times. The sources told the newspaper that Edgett was escorted out of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters after being fired. 

Musk has said he would be making wide-ranging changes at Twitter. The platform has faced challenges increasing the number of new users and advertising over the past several years. 

The firings occured just hours before a deadline imposed by Kathaleen St. J. McCormick, Chancellor at a Delaware Chancery Court, for Musk to finalize the deal by Oct. 28 and had said a trial would be scheduled if there was not an agreement in place.  

‘Every Mental Muscle’

But Segal took a shot at Musk on Friday and was the first executive to break the silence and discuss the blockbuster deal and his five-year tenure at the company.

Segal recounted the challenges working at Twitter during the past six months as Musk had originally made his unsolicited bid for the microblogging website in April. 

“The past 6 months have pulled on every mental muscle I’ve developed in 48 years,” he tweeted on Friday. 

He gave credit to his co-workers and their efforts to maintain its content moderation policy.

“You learn so much when times are challenging and unpredictable, when we are tired or feel our integrity questioned,” Segal tweeted. “Our team remained kind, respectful, and steadfast. They’re lifelong friends.”

Segal, who had served as a director at plant-based company Beyond Meat  (BYND) – Get Beyond Meat Inc. Report prior to working at Twitter and served in various leadership roles at Intuit, RPX and Goldman Sachs, said Twitter faces many challenges ahead serving as the “world’s town square for all of our stakeholders. The work isn’t complete, but we made meaningful progress.”

Musk’s firing of Gadde, who served as the head of legal, policy and trust, came as no surprise since she was in charge of the content policy at Twitter. She oversaw the team that recommended the suspension of the account of former President Donald Trump after the events of January 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill, according to press reports.

Her philosophy clashed with Musk who criticized the decision and has said he would reinstate Trump once he owns the company. Musk, who also is in charge of Space X, the rocket company, believes that nearly all opinions are welcome if they do not skirt the law. But he toned down his position somewhat on October 27. 

Segal remained optimistic in his tone on the future of Twitter, citing its value as a social network that “democratizes communication and knowledge, ensuring accountability and equal distribution of info.,” he tweeted.

But, he added a major caveat and said being in charge of Twitter remains “a huge responsibility for everyone that shares in the work. I wish them strength, wisdom, and foresight.”

During his tenure, Twitter doubled both the number of users and revenue and tripled the value of the company, increasing its share price from around $17 a share to its sale price of $54.20, Segal recounted.

There is more work to be done at Twitter since both social networks and legacy media companies face dwindling digital advertising revenue as companies cut costs amid higher inflation, slower growth in the economy and fears of a recession, Segal said.

He said that the future of advertising “is at a crossroads, driven by the economy, the shift from linear to digital, public policy, and the ads ecosystem,” in a tweet. “People are accustomed to trading privacy for access, and as digital ads matures, fewer platforms may have more info and control.”

Good Severance Package

The former CFO did not give any indication on his next move, but he and the other executives were guaranteed large severance packages as part of their employment contracts, according to filings from the Securities and Exchange Commision.

Agrawal, will receive the largest payout of $38.7 million since all his Twitter shares vested when he was fired. 

Segal is expected to receive a $25.4 million payout for being fired while Gadde’s severance is lower at $12.5 million. 

Working at Twitter were the “most fulfilling of my career,” Segal said, but remained vague on the next step of his career.

“The people, the potential, and the importance of Twitter,” he tweeted. “The shifts in technology, politics, culture. This will be hard to beat… but after catching my breath, I’m going to try! In the meantime, see you on @twitter!”

Sarah Personette, the chief customer officer, would get $11.2 million, but it has not been confirmed if she was also fired. On Thursday, she tweeted that she had a “great discussion” with Musk on Wednesday.

“Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged,” Personette tweeted Thursday. “Looking forward to the future!”

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