After a six-month rollercoaster ride, including two lawsuits and a number of his personal text messages being made public, Elon Musk has officially acquired Twitter, he announced on the platform with a tweet saying “the bird is freed.”
AP and other news outlets reported that he had also dismissed CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and general counsel Vijaya Gadde.
The world’s richest man attempted to back out of the deal after initially announcing he wanted to buy the company in April. Twitter sued Musk to force him to go through with the acquisition. He counter-sued but dropped his suit before the trial began.
Musk, whose Twitter profile bio recently changed to “Chief Twit,” tweeted a statement Thursday that gave the clearest picture of his vision for the platform to date. He wrote that he had acquired Twitter “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.”
He added that both traditional and social media had driven polarization, and that he would restore “dialogue” on the platform. But he also hinted he would not preside over a total roll-back of its rules, as some Twitter employees had feared. “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences,” he wrote. “Our platform must be warm and welcoming to all.”
Read More: How Twitter Could Change Under Elon Musk
The billionaire Tesla CEO suggested earlier this year that he would allow former President Donald Trump back onto the platform. But doing so could alienate advertisers, who Musk needs to keep on-side if he wants to realize his revenue growth goals. His statement about the direction of the platform began with a simple phrase: “Dear Twitter Advertisers.” (Trump has said he would not rejoin Twitter even if the ban were to be lifted.)
Musk visited Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday ahead of the deal closing. He reportedly told employees that he would not be firing 75% of the company’s staff—a figure that prompted them to pen a retaliatory open letter when it was divulged in the media. But he is still expected to make some cuts, according to Bloomberg News.
With social media stocks falling across the board, Musk faces an immediate economic challenge. He has reportedly promised financiers of his acquisition that he will quintuple Twitter’s revenue before the end of the decade by boosting user growth and adding a spate of new features. Doing so could fundamentally change the character of the site. With 200 million users (compared with Facebook’s 2 billion), it has never been a mass-market social media platform.
Twitter is traditionally perceived as a discussion-oriented space disproportionately inhabited by elites. That may also be changing. Internal research, first reported by Reuters, shows that Twitter has been losing its most active users for years. The topics of interest currently growing fastest on the platform—pornography and cryptocurrencies—are also less likely to appeal to advertisers.
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