Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal says he fired key execs due to ‘challenging’ economy

Twitter’s new CEO Parag Agrawal has largely remained silent through the company’s ongoing rollercoaster ride, even as its likely future owner Elon Musk continues to very much do the opposite.

But Agrawal finally broke his silence following an especially tumultuous week at the company, which saw him oust two key executives, Twitter’s head of product Keyvon Beykpour and Bruce Falck, who led the revenue side of the company.

“The truth is that this isn’t how and when I imagined leaving Twitter, and this wasn’t my decision,” Beykpour said of the surprise decision, which happened while he was out on paternity leave. Beykpour explained that Agrawal asked him to leave the company due to a desire to take the consumer team “in a different direction.”

In his new tweet thread, Agrawal deftly said a lot without saying much of substance, a classic CEO skill not really shared by his often casual, off-the-cuff predecessor.

We announced changes to our leadership team and operations yesterday. Changes impacting people are always hard. And some have been asking why a “lame-duck” CEO would make these changes if we’re getting acquired anyway. The short answer is very simple:

— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 13, 2022

Agrawal explained that he does expect the Musk deal to close, but that under his watch, Twitter needs to “be prepared for all scenarios.” His comments mostly gesture at the current economic climate, in which the tech industry and the broader stock market have come crashing down from recent highs. Startups and tech giants alike are battening the hatches, trimming costs and putting hiring freezes in place to weather the storm. According to Agrawal, Twitter is doing the same.

“People have also asked: why manage costs now vs after close?” Agrawal said. “Our industry is in a very challenging macro environment – right now. I won’t use the deal as an excuse to avoid making important decisions for the health of the company, nor will any leader at Twitter.”

What’s less clear is how Agrawal’s decision to cut influential leaders in the company squares with whatever vision Musk has in store. While Twitter languished for the better part of a decade without new products or investor-pleasing growth, the company has looked like a very different beast over the last year, shipping new consumer products left and right, solving for hard problems like harassment and experimenting with new revenue streams to set it free from advertising. Whatever Agrawal’s moves ultimately mean, the company appears to be switching tracks, getting rid of two figures who laid a lot of recent groundwork for growth in the process. If Agrawal will survive that process and stick it out into the Musk era is anyone’s guess at this point.

Meanwhile, the Musk sideshow goes on. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is technically locked into the Twitter deal at this point, but he continues to sow chaos and rack up likely SEC fines in the meantime. On Friday, Musk cast doubt over the whole thing, claiming that the deal is “temporarily on hold” as he reviews the social network’s ratio of bots to real accounts, just one of the platform’s many existential issues but the one that happens to be his pet issue.

At the time of writing, that supposed development wasn’t supported by any financial filings or corroborating evidence. While it’s possible Musk is trying to back out or re-price his purchase somehow, it’s just as likely that the notoriously mercurial billionaire is just tweeting his passing thoughts stream of consciousness-style, SEC fines be damned, in this case to the detriment of the company he’s ostensibly trying to buy.

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