Twitter employees grill CEO Parag Agrawal over fears of post-Musk exodus
Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal sought to assuage employee anger on Friday during a company-wide meeting where employees demanded answers on how managers planned to handle a mass exodus anticipated provoked by Elon Musk.
The meeting comes after Musk, the chief executive of Tesla who struck a $44 billion deal to buy the social media company, repeatedly criticized Twitter’s content moderation practices and a senior executive responsible for the definition of speech and security policies.
At the internal town hall meeting, executives said the company would monitor staff attrition daily, but it was too early to tell how the takeover deal with Musk would affect staff retention.
Musk has offered lenders to dramatically cut director and executive salaries, but the exact cost cuts remain unclear, according to people familiar with the matter. A source said Musk would not make a decision on the job cuts until he owns Twitter.
“I’m tired of hearing about shareholder value and fiduciary duty. What do you honestly think of the very high probability that many employees will not have jobs after the agreement is concluded? a Twitter employee asked Agrawal, in a question read aloud during the meeting.
Agrawal replied that Twitter has always cared about its employees and will continue to do so.
“I believe the future Twitter organization will continue to care about its impact on the world and its customers,” he said.
Executives told the meeting that the employee attrition rate had not changed from levels prior to news of Musk’s interest in buying the company.
In recent days, Musk has tweeted criticism of Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, a widely respected Twitter veteran in Silicon Valley and known internally as Twitter’s “moral authority.”
On Monday, Gadde reportedly wept during a virtual meeting with the company’s legal and policy teams as she voiced concerns about the company’s trajectory.
In response to YouTuber Saajar Enjeti’s tweet about the company’s ‘top censorship advocate’ who once censored the New York Post for an article about content on Hunter Biden’s laptop, Musk tweeted“Suspending a major news organization’s Twitter account for publishing a true story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.”
Musk’s attack sparked a barrage of online harassment targeting Gadde. Users took aim at Gadde, Tweeter: “Just stop you scum” and “WHITE POWER! WHITE PRIDE!”
Earlier this week, Musk also pushed for end-to-end encryption on the social media platform, raising concerns among users and lawmakers who fear such protections could make it easier for extremists to operate online and criminals.
“Twitter DMs should have end-to-end encryption like Signal, so no one can spy on or hack into your messages,” he said. tweeted Wednesday.
Employees told executives they fear Musk’s erratic behavior could destabilize Twitter’s business and hurt it financially as the company prepares to address the advertising world in a presentation the next week in New York.
“Do we have a short-term strategy on how to deal with advertisers that attract investment?” asked an employee.
Sarah Personette, Twitter’s chief customer officer, said the company is working to communicate frequently with advertisers and reassure them “the way we serve our customers isn’t changing.”
After the meeting, a Twitter employee told Reuters there was little confidence in what the executives had to say.
“The public relations talk is not landing. They told us not to run away and to do a job you’re proud of, but there’s no clear incentive for employees to do that,” the employee told Reuters, noting that employee compensation not executive was now capped due to the agreement.
Agrawal was to receive around $42 million if he was fired within 12 months of a change in control at the social media company, according to research firm Equilar.
During the meeting, Agrawal urged staff to expect changes in the future under new management and acknowledged that the business could have performed better over the years.
“Yes, we could have done things differently and better. I could have done things differently. I think about it a lot,” he said.
On Friday, Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey used the platform to write“I tried to take a break from Twitter recently, but I must say: the company has always tried to do its best given the information available to it. Every decision we made was ultimately my accountability.* Where we got it wrong or went overboard, we’ve admitted it and worked to correct it.
He added: “A transparent system, both in policy and operations, is the right way to gain trust. Whether it belongs to a company or an open protocol doesn’t matter as much as deliberately deciding to be open about every decision and why it was made. It’s not easy to do, but it has to happen.
Dorsey also wrote that he did not believe permanent bans were fair, except for those involving criminal activity. “That’s why we need an upper-layer-resistant protocol,” he explained.
Twitter declined further comment.
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