Elon Musk to Twitter executives: You’re fired, but about that $122 million severance…

Shot of Elon Musk waving to a crowd at a SpaceX event
Twitter’s departing executives are leaving the company with some big payouts.
Michael Gonzalez—Getty Images

The bird has been freed” at Twitter with Elon Musk’s takeover, and now it looks like a bunch of executives are getting millions of dollars to stop doing their jobs.

There’s a fog of confusion around the widely watched social-media takeover, but Musk changed his bio to “chief Twit” earlier this week and filmed himself walking into Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters literally carrying a sink. On Friday morning, Twitter notified the New York Stock Exchange that its shares would no longer be listed, implying that the world’s richest man really has taken it over at last.

Musk has yet to publicly confirm a bloodbath in the Twitter C-suite, but multiple outlets reported Thursday that CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and head of legal, policy, and trust Vijaya Gadde were immediately terminated, and at least one of them was personally escorted from headquarters.

But each of those executives is set to walk away with a hefty severance package, on paper.

Among the three of them, Agrawal, Segal, and Gadde are entitled to a base severance of nearly $122 million, research firm Equilar, which specializes in executive compensation, told Fortune.

According to a Twitter regulatory filing from May, termination compensation for executives is determined by base salaries, equity in the company, and health care premiums. However, The Information reported on October 29, citing a person familiar with the situation, that Musk had fired the executives “for cause,” setting up a lengthy fight over whether Twitter will pay out any severance packages at all.

Twitter did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment on the executives’ departure or their severance packages.

Executive departures

Musk taking over is likely bittersweet for the former executives who have repeatedly clashed with Twitter’s brand-new owner in recent months.

Former CEO Parag Agrawal is entitled to the biggest payout, worth $57.4 million, according to Equilar. After he initially welcomed Musk’s interest in joining the company’s board, Agrawal’s relationship with Musk soured once the latter revealed his intentions to buy Twitter in April, as detailed by a series of texts between the two disclosed in court in September, shortly before Musk dropped his lawsuit in which he was trying to get out of buying Twitter altogether.

The exchanges revealed that Agrawal had repeatedly voiced concerns to Musk over his questioning of the company’s leadership, saying he was damaging the company’s image.

“What did you get done this week?” Musk eventually answered Agrawal. “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private.”

The relationship between the two spiraled once the long takeover process began. At one point, Musk replied using a poop emoji to a series of tweets by Agrawal on the state of Twitter’s spam accounts.

While Agrawal is expected to leave Twitter with the largest payout, his former colleagues won’t be collecting chump change. CFO Segal departs the company with $44.5 million, according to Equilar, while legal chief Gadde is taking home $20 million. 

Gadde has also been the recipient of Musk criticism during the takeover process. In April, Musk criticized Gadde on Twitter for her content moderation policies, referring to a 2020 incident when Twitter blocked the New York Post’s Twitter account in response to a report regarding Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine.

Musk’s takeover of the company reportedly left Gadde in tears, according to a Politico report in April citing inside sources who said Gadde had expressed significant uncertainties about the direction Twitter would take under Musk.

[This article has been updated in the headline and text to state that Twitter may be starting a legal process to withhold payment of its former executives’ severance packages.]

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