By Sheila Dang and Katie Paul
DALLAS/PALO ALTO (Reuters) – Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal tried to defuse employee anger on Friday during a meeting where employees demanded answers on how the company will handle an expected staff exodus brought on by the pandemic. sale of the company to Elon Musk.
The meeting came after Musk, the billionaire owner of electric car maker Tesla, agreed to buy Twitter in a $44 billion transaction, repeatedly criticizing Twitter’s content moderation practices.
During the meeting, which was followed by Reuters, Twitter executives said the company will monitor staffing daily, but that it is too early to say how the Musk deal will affect staff retention.
Musk has said he will cut salaries for Twitter’s board of directors and board of directors, according to sources close to the matter. A source said that Musk will not make any decisions on staff cuts until he takes control of Twitter.
“I’m tired of hearing about shareholder value and fiduciary duty. What are your honest thoughts on the high likelihood that many employees will be unemployed after the deal is closed?” a Twitter insider asked Agrawal.
The executive responded that Twitter has always been concerned about its employees and that it will continue to do so. “I believe that the future organization of Twitter will continue to be concerned about its impact on the world and on its customers,” he said.
Executives said during the meeting that the company’s layoff rate had not changed from levels prior to the news that Musk was interested in buying Twitter.
In recent days, Musk has been using his Twitter account to criticize Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, a company veteran and respected in Silicon Valley. Musk’s attacks set off a torrent of criticism and harassment against Gadde.
Employees also told executives they fear Musk’s erratic behavior could destabilize Twitter’s business and hurt the company financially.
Sarah Personette, Twitter’s vice president of customers, responded that the company is working to communicate frequently with advertisers and ensure that “the way we serve our customers is not changing.”
After the meeting, a Twitter employee told Reuters there was little trust in executives’ words to employees.
“The speech isn’t sticking. They told us not to comment and get on with the work we’re proud of, but there’s no clear incentive to do so,” the official said.
Agrawal is expected to receive $42 million if he is terminated within 12 months in a change in control of Twitter, according to research firm Equilar.
During the meeting, Agrawal told employees to prepare for changes in the company’s future leadership and acknowledged that the company could have performed better over the years.
Sought, representatives of Twitter did not comment on the matter.