The $44bn takeover of Twitter continues to be interspersed with public clashes between two executives with extremely differing styles: brash, blunt millionaire Elon Musk, and also the social networking company’s more measured and diplomatic chief, Parag Agrawal.
Musk has openly goaded Twitter’s lesser-known leader around the social networking platform and frequently threatened to leave behind the offer, citing concerns about its fake accounts data.
Backed right into a corner under annually into his tenure, the enigmatic Agrawal is starting to be released fighting before staffers and also the public, based on multiple current and former staffers who spoken with the Financial Occasions on condition of anonymity.
“Parag really wants to swing back many has been more aggressive internally,” stated one former Twitter executive. “It appears Twitter would like to visit war to create this deal happen.”
Behind closed doorways, navigating the connection appears less fraught. The 2 interact weekly in discussions which are relaxed instead of hostile, based on people acquainted with the problem. They’re naturally aligned on numerous issues about how exactly the organization ought to be run, a couple stated – including the necessity to diversify revenues, develop a bigger audience as well as relax moderation rules to escape from permanent bans.
Nonetheless, Agrawal’s critics are sceptical of methods effective he’ll be being an misguided leader when confronted with an unpredictable opponent. Many cite the 38-year-old’s insufficient leadership experience cheap his negotiating hands is going to be weakened if Twitter’s business starts to deteriorate, because of the uncertainty.
“Parag is within a hopeless situation,” stated John Wieser, global president of economic intelligence at GroupM. “We still have no idea how serious Elon is many several weeks later, but the organization has dedicated to the purchase.”
India-born Agrawal has risen up through Twitter’s ranks in the last decade, and it was hired leader in November after 4 years as chief technology officer. He became a member of after graduating having a PhD from Stanford College, interspersed with research internships at Microsoft, Yahoo and also at&T.
Because the company’s first “distinguished engineer” – a title that confers major status in elite engineering circles – his intellect has earned him respect internally.
“My experience with Parag had been impressed together with his command of detail and getting an extensive knowledge of the problems that other leaders would skim over,” stated Bruce Daisley, Twitter’s former European vice-president.
Emulating Plastic Valley founders for example Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, soft-spoken Agrawal wears exactly the same outfit to operate every single day – a black T-shirt and fast jeans – consistent with the dogma that minimalism yields extra productivity. In a private dinner for tech executives held by Salesforce boss Marc Benioff in May, Agrawal required towards the floor to protect themself, based on a couple acquainted with the problem. Later on, impressed visitors arranged to talk with him, one individual stated.
Unlike his predecessor as leader, cool founder Jack Dorsey, Agrawal is much more of the unknown quantity beyond Twitter’s walls and exclusive Plastic Valley dinners, making couple of public appearances, and little utilisation of the platform itself, throughout his first couple of several weeks within the role.
“Parag feels a lot more like an engineer who’s been put responsible for an item than somebody who has an image,” one advertising agency executive stated. “Twitter requires a leader who’s likely to fully stand up making Twitter a name on the market.”
Consequently, he’s faced scepticism from some board people, particularly round his lack of skill because the boss of the public company or heading up large teams. Based on multiple people, the board opted to apply a poison pill in early stages in negotiations to be able to buy time partially so they could better understand Agrawal and the strategic business plan for Twitter, as well as talk to investors.
Some investors elevated concerns about whether Agrawal could effectively deliver on his plan, and for that reason leaned towards going for a deal, a couple stated.
The board also discussed whether or not to allow Musk to create his offer to shareholders directly – but rejected that option towards negotiating deal terms and deliberately building in certain defences and protections lest Musk change his mind.
Agrawal and fellow people from the board have expressed openly they would like to proceed using the deal in the cost of $54.20 a share, as agreed with Musk. The Bay Area-based company has told employees it expects to carry a shareholder election around the deal by early August.
However that could still prove challenging. Musk has contested Twitter’s estimate that under 5 percent of accounts on its platform are junk e-mail, threatening to leave behind the offer whether it can’t be proven. The manoeuvring continues to be construed by experts and Twitter staffers because the Tesla boss seeking leverage in negotiations or perhaps an excuse to try and scrap the offer altogether.
Recently, Twitter decided to allow Musk accessibility “fire hose” of openly available data about tweets it typically sells to social networking monitoring companies – moving that some saw as Agrawal calling Musk’s bluff.
“The opening from the [data trove] is really a classic Parag proceed to show – ‘we will not blink, we’ve absolutely nothing to hide’,” another former Twitter executive stated.
But on Thursday, The Washington Publish reported that Musk’s team had figured that the information wasn’t verifiable, raising questions regarding his next move.
To date, Musk hasn’t directly introduced up renegotiating the offer terms with Agrawal, based on one individual acquainted with the problem and confirmed within an email by Musk. Twitter declined to comment.
Agrawal’s success may hinge, partly, on if he is able to keep your business in robust financial health so they won’t give Musk negotiating leverage.
Twitter originates under critique for sluggish growth, slow product innovation along with a battling advertising business, among a broader market slowdown. Its revenues in 2021 was at $5bn in contrast to Meta’s sales of $118bn. At its last quarterly earnings, the organization accepted to overstating its audience figures by almost 2mn users for around 3 years.
After an initially understated start, Agrawal continues to be more vocal and offer at work a couple of days per week, three individuals with understanding of operations stated, and required a current tour of countless global headquarters. His focus continues to be on overhauling Twitter’s management structure to inspire better performance and faster product rollouts in areas for example commerce.
In May, he made the decision to freeze hiring and implement cost-cutting measures. Also, he fired two popular senior leaders responsible for ads and product, shocking some employees – though others noted the moves came after user and revenue targets have been missed.
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He’s been frank with staff instead of trying to reassure them, a strategy which has won over loyal longtime employees but unsettled newer joiners, several employees stated.
When the deal effectively closes, Agrawal will likely be from employment as Musk intends to replace him, based on media reports.
Still, Agrawal has multiple incentives to determine the agreement through, beyond saving face and staying away from any potential escalation towards the courts. He’d leave having a $60.1mn golden parachute if he was fired included in the takeover, based on regulatory filings.
However, when the purchase collapses, he or she is given the job of reviving a business having a crushed share cost and rock-bottom worker morale.
“They’re dangling more than a void. If the offer falls apart, the shares will collapse [and] then you’re searching at significant headcount reductions, getting to retrench,” an old executive stated. Another former executive stated he believed Agrawal was willing to become a “sacrificial lamb” for the organization.