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Elon Musk’s first move was to fire Twitter’s CEO—their texts show how their relationship quickly grew strained

October 28, 2022, 5:45 PM UTC
Photo of Elon Musk.
Elon Musk.
Dimitrios Kambouris—Getty Images

Months before closing his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter and immediately pushing out its leaders, Elon Musk texted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and its chairman, Bret Taylor, with some friendly banter following a dinner meeting between the three men. 

“Great dinner,” Musk wrote in early April, paired with a smiley face. Agrawal responded: “Memorable for multiple reasons. Really enjoyed it.”

Later in April, after Agrawal announced that Musk, who had bought a large stake in the company, would join Twitter’s board, the two men were still seemingly getting along. “I love our conversations,” Musk texted Agrawal. “I have a ton of ideas but lmk if I’m pushing too hard. I just want Twitter to be maximum amazing,” he added. 

“In our next convo – treat me like an engineer instead of CEO and let’s see where we get to,” Agrawal wrote back. 

But just two days after those texts, revealed in pretrial court filings after Twitter sued Musk for attempting to back out of a subsequent deal to buy Twitter, their vibe shifted. The relationship between the two men who had initially seemed to want to get along had grown visibly strained. 

It all started with Musk publicly tweeting that most of Twitter’s top users—mostly celebrities— rarely posted anything; “is Twitter dying?” he asked. 

Clearly annoyed, Agrawal texted back to Musk: “You are free to tweet ‘is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter – but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context.” 

A minute later, Musk responded, asking “what did you get done this week?” He then declared: “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of my time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private.” 

That seemed to end a friendship that lasted less than a month. And it didn’t seem to get much better throughout the takeover drama. In May, before going to court, Musk responded to a series of Agrawal’s tweets about how Twitter handles “bots,” with a poop emoji. 

Late Thursday, after closing his Twitter acquisition, Musk’s first order of business as the self-described “Chief Twit” was to fire Agrawal and a handful of other top executives, several outlets reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Musk’s plans for the rest of Twitter’s staff are still unknown. It was previously reported by the Washington Post that he planned to fire 75% of the company’s employees, but on Wednesday Bloomberg reported—citing people familiar with the matter—that Musk denied to employees that he would cut that amount, while still leaving the door open to layoffs.  

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