The saga of the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has finally come to an end. Or at least, it passes a major milestone with the effective signature of the acquisition on Thursday evening October 27 and the takeover of the billionaire. It was made according to the original terms of the agreement: 54.20 dollars per share for a total of approximately 44 billion dollars.
A new chapter is now beginning for the network, and it is likely to be eventful. Elon Musk began by firing most of the company’s executives, including its CEO, Parag Agrawal, its CFO, Ned Segal, its “chief legal officer”, Vijaya Gadde, as well as Sean Edgett, chief legal officer.
All had come under heavy criticism from Musk before and during his takeover bid. Vijaya Gadde being notably in charge of moderation issues, a subject on which the new boss has publicly committed to relaxing the rules, to the delight of the American far right.
However, Elon Musk wanted to reassure through a message addressed to advertisers, who generate almost all of the company’s revenue. He declares that Twitter has an important role to play: that of a place of discussion “far from the sensationalist drifts of the traditional media”, that it cannot become “an infernal site on which everything is permitted”, and that it will respect the laws of the different nations in which it operates, just as it will remain “a welcoming and benevolent place for all”.
We can obviously raise an eyebrow at this description of the social network, Twitter being the antithesis of a platform inviting measured and nuanced debates. The short formats of its messages and its mechanisms for spreading information, on the contrary, favor hot reactions and other bloodshed, giving little importance to the rectification of errors, the attribution of sources, or even to content moderation in general. Cases of mass harassment are common there, and the company is known for its systematic refusal to cooperate with justice, especially in France.
A profound transformation to come
The future of the social network is currently unclear. Elon Musk intends to play a leadership role there, even if he will not necessarily have the title of “CEO”. He seems to want to expand the business model beyond simple advertising, or even make it a “super app” (integrating many e-commerce, payment, identity management, etc. features) based on the model from WeChat. For the moment, no project has been officially shared.
According to Bloomberg, Elon Musk does not plan to lay off 75% of Twitter employees, contrary to what the Washington Post said last week. But cuts in the payroll (which has about 7,500 employees) will take place. Musk must hold meetings this Friday, October 28 with various technical managers, and the instruction to the engineers is “to bring code”. The new boss would have been accompanied by developers working for Tesla, another of his companies, to judge the skills of Twitter employees.
Note that layoffs were already planned before the takeover. Internal documents consulted by the Washington Post reported a plan to part with 25% of employees, or 1,900 people. It would have been accompanied by the closure of certain data centers and other budget cuts.
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