Two Twitter leaders are leaving the company after the Musk deal

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter’s chief executive fired two CEOs, froze most new hires and said he was cutting spending on Thursday, as the social media company tries to turn its business around as it battles to acquire Elon Musk, the world’s richest man.

In a memo shared with employees and obtained by The New York Times, Twitter CEO Paraj Agrawal said the company was halting most hiring and rolling back discretionary spending, even though it had no plans to lay off workers. Mr. Agrawal wrote that these moves resulted in part from Twitter’s failure to meet audience targets and increase revenue.

The memo said Kavonne Beckbor, general manager of Twitter, and Bruce Falk, general manager of revenue, were leaving. The memo said Mr. Bikbor would be replaced by Jay Sullivan, interim general manager of Consumer Products.

“It is important to have the right leaders at the right time,” Mr. Agrawal said in the note. He added that Twitter decided at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to invest aggressively in growth, but “as a company we haven’t reached intermediate milestones that enable us to have confidence in these goals.”

Mr Bikpur and Mr Falk said on Twitter that Mr Agrawal had fired them. Mr Falk later appeared to delete his tweet.

Twitter spokesperson Brian Polyakov confirmed the memo and changes made by Mr. Agrawal. He declined to give further details.

The changes raise questions for Mr. Musk about his $44 billion purchase of Twitter. The billionaire, who said he doesn’t care about the company’s economics, is paying $54.20 a share to the company. In a presentation to investors, he also said he wants Twitter’s revenue to fivefold by 2028 and to increase its users to 931 million by then, up from 217 million at the end of last year.

But Twitter shares were dropping, as part of a broader decline in technology shares, and hovered at $45.22 on Thursday. Mr. Agrawal’s moves also indicate that the company’s business, which relies primarily on digital advertising, is in turmoil. Last month, Twitter reported quarterly revenue and profit growth that Wall Street wasn’t expecting.

Musk, who also runs electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, said he would take Twitter privately and would like to improve the product. Some of Twitter’s top executives have been publicly criticized, particularly for the way they conducted speech on the service. The billionaire, who is still amassing some funding for the purchase, is expected to close the deal for Twitter in the next few months.

credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times

Mr. Agrawal, who was appointed CEO last November, has made a series of changes to the company and terminated some long-time CEOs. That same month, for example, the company’s chief communications officer left and the chief of staff said she would be leaving by the end of the year. In December, Twitter’s head of engineering and head of design and research left.

While Mr. Agrawal was trying to reform the company, Twitter was in a rage over Mr Musk’s takeover. At a company meeting on the day the deal was announced, Mr. Agrawal answered questions about how the deal would happen, what would happen to employees’ compensation and jobs, and how Mr. Musk might change Twitter.

“Some of you are anxious, some of you are excited, and some of you are waiting to see how it goes. I know this affects all of you personally,” he said at the time. He later added, “Once the deal closes, we don’t know which direction this company will take.”

credit…Twitter, via Getty Images

In his note on Thursday, Mr. Agrawal did not mention Mr. Musk by name but acknowledged that the company was in the middle of an acquisition and it was unclear when it would close.

It is not clear how long Mr. Agrawal will remain in charge of Twitter. Mr. Musk floated the idea of ​​becoming the company’s interim CEO once the deal was completed.

Last week at another company meeting, Mr. Sullivan, the newly promoted general manager, told Twitter employees to stay motivated and keep working, despite the uncertainty caused by Mr. Musk, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Times. .

“We may be private, we may be public, we may have an owner who wants to do something different,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We don’t know what the future holds, but what we do know is that we have left everything in the field for the people who depend on us every day.”

Mr. Sullivan also gave a candid assessment of Twitter’s vulnerabilities, saying that the company had failed to hold on to new users and that employees had gone beyond the responsibility to fix difficult problems. He said machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, is important to Twitter’s growth. He also warned that Twitter’s content editing policies may become more flexible.

“Social media is facing a crisis of trust right now,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Kate Conger Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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