Last week, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced that the company’s consumer product leader Kayvon Beykpour and head of revenue product Bruce Falck had been informed that they were no longer required. Now several more internal leaders are following suit.
As reported by Bloomberg:
“Ilya Brown, a VP of product management, Katrina Lane, VP of Twitter Service, and Max Schmeiser, head of data science, are all leaving the company, according to internal memos described to Bloomberg. All three chose to exit on their own, according to the memos.”
That’s a big chunk of the top voices at the business that are now moving on – and we may not be done yet, with the Musk takeover deal now in a new state of flux, which will ramp up the pressure even more, heightening an already tense internal atmosphere.
To recap on where we’re at – over the weekend, Musk said that his $44 billion Twitter takeover was effectively ‘on hold’ because he did not believe Twitter’s official SEC reporting that less than 5% of its active user count was made up of fake profiles.
Musk has made a big deal about the need for Twitter to tackle bots and fakes, as in his personal experience, many accounts do not represent real people, an issue that he’s vowed to tackle when he takes ownership.
Current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal responded publicly to Musk’s critiques, explaining the process of assessing its fake user numbers. But today, Musk has one again reiterated that he will not go ahead with the Twitter deal if the platform is unable to definitively prove its fake user claims.
20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher.
My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.
Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%.
This deal cannot move forward until he does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2022
Which Twitter may be hard-pressed to actually do – though exiting the deal won’t be so simple for Musk either, who waived various due diligence measures in his Twitter takeover proposal, in order to push the sale through faster.
But again, regardless of the outcome, Twitter has already been irreparably changed. With so many senior leaders now moving on, either by choice, or by company decision, that will inevitably alter the trajectory of the company, and will either make Agrawal a more hardened leader, solidified in his place, if Musk somehow backs out of the deal. Or it will change completely anyway, with Musk in charge.
As it stands, however, it still seems like the most likely outcome is that Musk will be locked into the deal, with Twitter filing its preliminary proxy statement with the SEC today to entrench the sale.
“Twitter is committed to completing the transaction on the agreed price and terms as promptly as practicable.”
There is some legal precedent for Musk pulling out entirely, on the basis of Twitter’s reportage to the SEC being false, though in order to prove this, he would have to establish bad faith, essentially, via Twitter’s deliberate effort to deceive regulators through its previous disclosures.
Twitter’s been reporting its fake profile account number at 5% since 2013, so it seems unlikely that Musk will be able to argue that he was either unaware or that the numbers are explicitly false. But it does seem like he’s going to try, either to reduce his offer price, or to step away from his bid.
There’s a lot to come yet, which will likely see even more Twitter staff jumping ship.