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Twitter employees raise questions about Musk takeover in all-hands meeting

<i>Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA/FILE</i><br/>Elon Musk is officially set to buy Twitter. Musk is shown here at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne
Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA
Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA/FILE
Elon Musk is officially set to buy Twitter. Musk is shown here at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne

By Clare Duffy and Donie O’Sullivan, CNN Business

Elon Musk is officially set to buy Twitter, and the company’s employees have questions.

At an all-hands meeting Monday afternoon with CEO Parag Agrawal and Board Chair Bret Taylor, Twitter employees raised questions about everything from what the deal would mean for their compensation to whether former US President Donald Trump would be let back on the platform, according to audio of the call obtained by CNN.

The call comes after Twitter’s board announced on Monday that it had reached a deal to sell the company to Musk for $54.20 per share. The deal caps off a stunning news cycle in which the Tesla and SpaceX CEO became one of Twitter’s largest shareholders, was offered and turned down a seat on its board and bid to buy the company — all in less than a month — and puts the world’s richest man in charge of one of the most influential social networks. It also raises big questions about how Musk’s proposed changes for the platform, including loosening content restrictions, will take shape.

Agrawal, who has been in charge of Twitter for only four months, told employees not to expect big changes before the deal closes, which is set to happen before the end of this year. He also said that “there are no plans for any layoffs at this point” and that Twitter’s remote work policies will continue until the deal closes.

“Between now and closing … we will continue making decisions as we’ve always had, guided by the principles we’ve had,” he said. “That doesn’t mean things won’t change, things have been changing … I have been talking about driving positive change at the company, and I will continue doing so because it makes us better and it makes us stronger. Once the deal closes, different decisions might be made.”

Agrawal said that Twitter’s leadership would seek to find time for employees to ask questions directly of Musk. He added that he expects to spend time with Musk and will tell the billionaire about the principles that have guided Twitter’s decisions.

In response to the question about whether Trump’s account — which was removed from Twitter early last year for violating its policies on inciting violence following the Capitol Riot — would be restored on the platform, Agrawal told staff that is something they should ask Musk and said, “once the deal closes, we will know what direction the platform will go.”

One employee asked what Musk’s takeover could mean for Twitter’s “commitment to responsible, ethical” artificial intelligence and machine learning, saying, “we’ve been viewed as industry leaders in this field and have attracted some of the field’s best and brightest minds, but it would seem that new ownership’s values are not in alignment.”

Agrawal called such work “critical for Twitter to be able to serve our customers” and said “we need to continue doing that work.”

Other employees asked what Musk’s takeover could mean for employee retention and attrition. The deal comes at a time when there is already heightened competition for talent in the labor market, especially in the tech industry.

“This is indeed a period of uncertainty,” Agrawal said. “All of you have different feelings and views about this news, many of you are concerned, some of you are excited, many people here are waiting to understand how this goes and have an open mind … If we work with each other, we will not have to worry about losing the core of what makes Twitter powerful, which is all of us working together in the interest of our customers every day.”

Later in the call, Agrawal said he was “optimistic” about the future of the company.

“The way I think about what he has said … he wants Twitter to be a powerful, positive force in the world, just like all of us,” Agrawal said.

For his part, Musk said in a statement Monday that, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” He added that, “Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

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