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Jack Dorsey accused of ‘backstabbing’ his own Twitter board by helping Elon Musk as shareholders meet

May 25, 2022, 2:52 PM UTC

Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey stabbed his company’s board in the back by serving up the social media platform on a platter to Elon Musk, according to a former company veteran and ex-director.

As the company prepares to host shareholders for a virtual annual general meeting from 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jason Goldman found clear words for his former colleague during an interview with Bloomberg.

The former vice president of Product and member of Twitter’s founding team referenced events that transpired on April 5, the day after chairman Bret Taylor and CEO Parag Agrawal reached an agreement to bring Musk on as a director in exchange for not expanding his stake beyond 14.9%. 

During a meeting that the Tesla CEO had requested, Dorsey “shared his personal view that Twitter would be able to better focus on execution as a private company,” according to an SEC filing by Twitter.

This suggests the cofounder, who served on the board alongside Taylor and Agrawal, encouraged Musk to buy the company outright.

“That to me is just a clear backstabbing of the board by the founder when they had a deal in hand to come to a standstill,” Goldman said in the interview.

Shortly thereafter the Tesla CEO backed out of the agreement in favor of announcing a $44 billion acquisition plan. 

“On April 9, 2022, before Mr. Musk’s appointment to the Twitter Board became effective, Mr. Musk notified Messrs. Taylor and Agrawal that he would not be joining the Twitter Board and would be making an offer to take Twitter private,” Twitter said in its proxy statement from May 17th.

According to Twitter, a day before Musk made his proposal public, he reached out to Taylor again.

“I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company,” the centibillionaire wrote.

Goldman, who stepped down from Twitter’s board in 2010, said shareholders would now just want assurances that the $54.20 per share tender offer will proceed as planned after Musk claimed the deal was on hold pending an audit into the number of fake accounts.

“The most important answer [the company] can assert is that there’s no such thing as the deal being on hold,” Goldman explained. 

He referenced recent leaked reports that general counsel Vijaya Gadde had told staff the company remained committed to the deal and would enforce its execution legally if need be. 

Industry under scrutiny

Nevertheless, even as shareholders would reap the rewards of the bid, Goldman didn’t think the company itself would benefit.

“It’s not a good outcome for the product. It’s not a great outcome for employees, because Elon’s plans for what he would do with it have proven to be so unserious that he’s just simply shut up about them on Twitter altogether,” he said. 

A day after shares in Twitter rival Snap plunged 43%, Goldman warned social media platforms in general were in search of a new approach for their users after 15 years of operating the same business model.

“Instead of being in these arenas of public combat where you have to contend with just everyone all at once, maybe folks are looking for more private experiences or semipublic experiences and maybe there’s a new evolution of social media to come,” he said.

Snap warned on Monday after the close of trading that it would not meet its month-old second quarter guidance due to a “faster than anticipated” deterioration in the broader economic environment. 

The plunge in the stock mimicked Meta’s collapse early February after disappointing with its first ever decline in daily users and a weak outlook for the first quarter, citing competition from ByteDance’s TikTok. 

The industry has furthermore been rocked by claims of complicitity in acts of extremist violence by offering people like the Buffalo killer Payton Gendron a chance to platform their murderous rampages.

As trustee of a $280 billion pension fund, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the board had “repeatedly failed to properly enforce its content management policies,” adding he would vote against them all.

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