In an emergency meeting on Friday, Twitter employees lashed out over Elon Musk‘s deal to acquire the company for $44 billion, accusing the world’s richest man of bigotry and fretting over potential job cuts once the deal closes.
Staffers at the ‘impromptu’ all-hands meeting fired angry questions at executives including CEO Parag Agrawal, who was described as looking tired and at times annoyed, according to Insider.
Reached by DailyMail.com on Saturday morning, a Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment.
One employee at the meeting described Musk as anti-gay and anti-transgender, expressing fear that his ownership would hurt efforts to recruit new employees.
‘What should we tell the LGTBQ community at recruiting conferences we’re lined up to attend when they ask us why they should come work at Twitter when we just sold ourselves to an open homophobe and transphobe?’ the staffer asked Dalana Brand, Twitter’s chief people and diversity officer.
Brand diplomatically avoided agreeing with that assessment of Musk, responding: ‘I cannot speak to Elon’s personal feelings on these things. I can’t speak to what he’s done in his other companies, in terms of people’s experiences.’
‘Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to have a conversation. That may be telling,’ she added.
At an all-hands meeting on Friday, Twitter staff fired angry questions at CEO Parag Agrawal (left) and Dalana Brand, Twitter’s chief people and diversity officer (right)
Elon Musk, seen with filmmaker Bryn Mooser last month, will not make any decisions about job cuts until he assumes ownership, one source says
The criticism of Musk may have been referring to his prior mockery of the inclusion of pronouns in Twitter bios.
Recent reports also suggest that the billionaire was prompted to buy Twitter after the service suspended a satirical account that praised a transgender Biden administration official as ‘Man of the Year’.
Twitter staffers also voiced fears about coming layoffs. Musk has reportedly vowed to slash executive pay after taking over, but one source said he will not make any decisions about job cuts until he assumes ownership.
One employee, described as ‘angry and disappointed,’ raised the issue with Agrawal in a question read aloud during the meeting.
‘I’m tired of hearing about shareholder value and fiduciary duty. What are your honest thoughts about the very high likelihood that many employees will not have jobs after the deal closes?’ the employee asked.
Agrawal answered that Twitter has always cared about its employees and would continue to do so, but did not deny the possibility of layoffs.
‘Different organizations have different cultures, but they’ve excelled,’ he said. ‘It will be different here than what it is today, but for the people who are here, it will be worth it to be here.’
‘I believe the future Twitter organization will continue to care about its impact on the world and its customers,’ he said.
Twitter headquarters is seen in San Francisco. Twitter staffers voiced fears about coming layoffs in a staff meeting on Friday afternoon
Executives said during the meeting that the employee attrition rate has not changed compared to the levels before the news of Musk’s interest in buying the company.
In recent days, Musk has tweeted criticism of Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, who is widely respected across Silicon Valley. Gadde was a key player in controversial moves to ban Donald Trump from Twitter and censor reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Musk’s attack triggered a barrage of online harassment targeting Gadde, and led to speculation that he could fire her after assuming control.
At Friday’s meeting, Gadde addressed questions about the contract Musk struck with Twitter defining the terms for his buyout.
Asked about the $1 billion termination fee that either party could be forced to pay if they walk away from the deal, Gadde said that it could be seen as ‘an incentive in some ways to perform the contract.’
‘But the contract itself has very strong requirements to perform,’ Gadde continued, according to Insider.
‘What I mean by that is there’s a provision in the contract that says Twitter can sue to have the contract enforced. So, as we say, it’s not just about the termination fee. It’s all the provisions and how they play together to create deal certainty.’
At Friday’s meeting, top Twitter lawyer Vijaya Gadde addressed questions about the contract Musk struck with Twitter defining the terms for his buyout
Elon Musk’s attempted hostile takeover of Twitter timeline:
- January 31: Musk starts buying Twitter shares ‘almost daily’
- April 4: The billionaire reveals he has a nine per cent stake in the tech giant
- April 5: Twitter offers him a seat on the board of directors – as long as he does not own more than 14.9 per cent. He initially accepts the offer
- April 8: Vanguard Group reveals it has a larger, 10.3 per cent, stake in Twitter, meaning Musk is no longer largest shareholder
- April 9: Musk rejects seat on Twitter’s board on the day he is meant to join
- April 10: CEO Agrawal announces Musk declined to join the board in a statement
- April 12: Investor Marc Bain Rasella files lawsuit against Musk in NYC over ‘failing to report his Twitter share purchases to the SEC’ in time
- April 14: The Tesla founder offers to buy Twitter for $43 billion
- April 14: Twitter stocks plummet after hostile takeover bid
- April 15: Twitter board mounts a ‘poison pill’ strategy against Musk
- April 16: Musk tweets ‘Love Me Tender’ as he again teased at the possibility of a hostile takeover of Twitter
- April 17: Musk agreed with a tweet saying the ‘game is rigged’ if he can’t buy Twitter
- April 18: Jack Dorsey has slammed the board of Twitter for ‘plots and coups’ that were ‘consistently the dysfunction of the company’
- April 18: The social media giant files its ‘poison pill’ defense with the Securities and Exchange Commission
- April 21: Musk files SEC document unveiling how he will fund takeover bid
- April 24: Must tweets ‘moving on’ in reference to poking fun at Bill Gates
- April 24: Twitter announces it is re-examining Musk’s $43 billion bid to buy the company
- April 25: Twitter signs an agreement to be acquired by Musk for $44 billion
At the all-hands meeting, employees also told executives they feared Musk’s erratic behavior could destabilize Twitter’s business, and hurt it financially as the company prepares to address the advertising world in a presentation next week in New York City.
‘Do we have a strategy in the near-term on how to handle advertisers pulling investment,’ one employee asked.
Sarah Personette, Twitter’s chief customer officer, said the company was working to communicate frequently with advertisers and reassure them ‘the way that we service our customers is not changing.’
After the meeting, a Twitter employee told Reuters there was little trust in what executives had to say.
‘The PR speak is not landing. They told us don’t leak and do a job you are proud of, but there is no clear incentive for employees to do this,’ the employee told Reuters, noting that compensation for non-executive staffers is now capped because of the deal.
Agrawal is estimated to receive $42 million if he were terminated within 12 months of a change in control at the social media company, according to research firm Equilar.
Gadde, who earned $17 million last year, would walk away with a severance package worth $12.5 million, including accelerated vesting of her incentive shares.
During the meeting, Agrawal urged staff to expect change in the future under new leadership, and acknowledged that the company could have performed better over the years.
‘Yes, we could have done things differently and better. I could have done things differently. I think about that a lot,’ he said.
Elon Musk increases his selloff of Tesla shares to $8.5 BILLION ‘to help fund his $44B Twitter takeover’
Elon Musk sold off a total of $8.5 billion in Tesla shares in recent days, new regulatory filings on Friday showed.
The filings double the previously reported amount of the fire-sale, which Musk is presumably conducting in order to fund his $21 billion cash commitment in a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
Though Musk is the richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $246 billion, most of his fortune is tied up in stock, and it had seemed clear he would have to sell off some assets to fund the Twitter takeover.
About half of Musk’s selloff of Tesla shares was made on Tuesday. Musk sold another $4.4 billion in the stock on Thursday, the new filings show.
On Thursday night, after the first round of share sales became public, Musk tweeted: ‘No further TSLA sales planned after today’.
Elon Musk sold off a total of more than $8.4 billion in Tesla shares in recent days, new regulatory filings on Friday showed
Tesla stock, which dropped 12 percent as he made his initial stock dump earlier this week, popped 6 percent in morning trading on Friday following Musk’s vow not to sell the remainder of his stake.
To complete the Twitter takeover, which is due to close by October, Musk has committed $21 billion in cash, $13 billion from Morgan Stanley in traditional bank loans and another $12.5 billion from the bank and others in margin loans.
It’s unclear why Musk decided to liquidate part of his 17 percent stake in Tesla so far in advance of the deal’s expected closing date.
In total, sold about 9.6 million shares this week, according to the filings on Thursday and Friday, equating to 5.6 percent of his stake in the company. Musk still owns about 16 percent of Tesla, a stake worth $143 billion.
After taxes, Musk will make about $6.5 billion from his latest stock sale, and made about $3 billion in profit from another big sell-off late last year. That leaves roughly $10 billion in cash he will still need to meet his equity requirement for the Twitter deal.
It is not clear how he will cover the remaining equity financing. Musk holds a 44 percent stake in unlisted rocket company SpaceX that is reportedly valued at $100 billion.
Musk has been looking for partners to reduce his cash requirement for the Twitter deal, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, adding that it is far from certain such a partner will emerge.
This week’s activity marks Musk’s first Tesla stock sale since he offloaded $16.4 billion worth of shares in November and December, after polling Twitter users about selling 10 percent of his stake in the electric car maker.
Musk owed about $11 billion in taxes in 2021 due to his exercise of stock options set to expire this year, in addition to taxes on profits he realized in the stock sale.