- The firing of two powerful Indian Americans at the social media company (Agrawal and attorney Vijaya Gadde) elicited mixed reactions. Some welcomed the move, some were critical, and some had fun.
Ever since news of Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy Twitter broke earlier this year, there has been a good deal of conjecture on the future of the social media company’s leadership, including the fate of CEO Parag Agrawal and top lawyer Vijaya Gadde. Their fate was sealed immediately after Musk arrived at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco with a sink — as a pun on his acquisition. He tweeted a video saying, “Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in!”
Right after taking over the company on Oct. 27, Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal, legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, and CFO Ned Segal. “He had accused them of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the platform,” as reported by Reuters. In an email to the news agency, Equilar, known for its research on executive compensation, valued Agrawal’s so-called compensation or “golden parachute” at $57.4 million,” while Gadde’s was $20 million.
Agrawal, who was appointed CEO in November 2021, holds a 2.3% stake in Twitter and has been a part of the company for more than a decade. Morning Star noted that “Agrawal, Segal and Gadde own roughly 1.2 million shares of Twitter, more than half of that a $34.8 million stake owned by Gadde. The trio’s roughly $65 million stake would be purchased by Musk like any other shareholder’s stock.” The report also mentioned that the three are also “entitled to a year’s salary and health benefits. In 2021, Agrawal had a base pay of $623,000, while Segal and Gadde’s base pay was $600,000 each.”
After taking over as CEO, Agrawal “initiated the launch of Twitter edit button on the platform’s premium version Twitter Blue, added context notes on tweets and also completed the transition for controlling mentions on Twitter via Twitter Safety,” as reported by Business Insider.
Gadde, who has worked at Twitter since 2011, is the key executive charged with overseeing Twitter’s trust and safety, legal and public policy functions. She made headlines for major decisions such as prohibiting political ads on the platform in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. During the Capitol riots in January 2021, she was reportedly the driving force behind the permanent suspension of Trump’s account, “a position that has earned her devoted fans within Twitter, as well as a large contingent of right-wing critics,” the New York Post noted.
Agrawal has been trending on Twitter with netizens being divided on the development. Some hailed his ouster, while others praised his work on the platform. Some were skeptical about the future of Twitter. Many also shared hilarious memes.
A user named Daryl Carr tweeted, “Elon officially owns Twitter and the firings have begun. Parag Agrawal, Vijaya Gadde among others have been terminated. I say good riddance and I hope that Elon rights that platform. This is the most important thing for our nation and free speech.”
Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University called Agrawal “one of the most aggressively anti-free speech figures on social media.”
Actor Nick Searcy tweeted, “Goodbye Parag Agrawal! Hope you can find another censoring job soon!”
Aditya Raj Kaul, executive editor TV9 Network tweeted: “Elon Musk has begun his Twitter ownership by terminating Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. How the tables have turned against #SmashBrahmanicalPatriarchy gang!”
A user named Aarav Gautam shared the screenshot of Agrawal’s bio which stated that he was the CEO of the microblogging site, and wrote, “Misinformation Twitter, Parag Agrawal is impersonating as the CEO of your website. This is in clear violation of the rules. Twitter, please deal with this immediately.”
There were many who praised the Indian American. “Parag Agrawal will go down as one of the best CEOs to create the most shareholder value for a stagnating company in the shortest time possible after a series of CEOs and execs who now talk big game about their failed tenures,” tweeted user Sar Haribhakti.
Entrepreneur Moiz Ali wondered why more people aren’t praying Agrawal. Citing his accomplishments, he wrote: “If anyone ever won a negotiation, it was him.”
“Parag Agrawal actually dragged the world’s richest man to Court, made him eat his own words, to finally pay up and do the deal, and in the process made at least $ 40 m for himself,” Sandeep Manudhane weeted.
Matthew Zeitlin, a reporter at Grid News suggested that Agrawal’s state should be built “in the shareholder value hall of fame.”
A user name Jack tweeted: “Parag Agrawal got into a legal showdown with the richest man on earth, embarrassed him so badly he completely folded, then as a reward gets bought out of all his equity at the highest conceivable valuation and *doesn’t have to run twitter any more*”
A user named Xavier Uncle took a dig at Indians’ obsession with government jobs. It doesn’t matter if you are CEO of a giant social media platform. The job security will only be in government jobs.
Some comparisons were made as well. “Told my Parents that I would reach Parag Agrawal’s level of greatness and today both him and I are unemployed. Mission Accomplished.”
There were some that anticipated a return of Trump. Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed Candidate for Arizona Governor also offered a shift of Twitter headquarters to to Arizona.
There were some concerns about the platform and its future. Max Berger, a former associate of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), predicted ‘dark times ahead,” as “Musk’s takeover of Twitter is cheered on by Trump, Bannon, Thiel and most of the fascist right.”