Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who recently acquired Twitter for $44 billion, had a secret dinner with Parag Agrawal, the former CEO of Twitter, in March 2022. According to a new biography by Walter Isaacson, Musk came away from the meeting thinking that Agrawal was not the “fire-breathing dragon” that Twitter needed.
Isaacson, who spent three years trailing Musk for his book “Elon Musk”, published an excerpt of the biography in The Wall Street Journal on August 31. He wrote that Musk said Agrawal was a “really nice guy” but being a CEO doesn’t require being liked. “What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon,” Musk said after that meeting. “And Parag is not that.”
The dinner took place near San Jose and was also attended by Bret Taylor, who was then the chair of Twitter’s board. At that time, Musk had become Twitter’s biggest shareholder after buying up stock in the platform since January 2022. He was also set to join its board as part of his deal.
The messages that show the cordial start and the bitter end of their relationship
The biography also revealed some of the messages that Musk and Agrawal exchanged before and after their dinner. The messages were released in September 2022 as part of a lawsuit that Twitter filed against Musk in July 2022.
The messages showed that at first, Agrawal was excited to have Musk on board and wanted to hear his ideas for improving Twitter and the public conversation. He also invited Musk to speak to Twitter staff and answer their questions.
Musk seemed to be interested in working with Agrawal and making significant improvements to Twitter in the coming months. He also complimented Agrawal on his promotion to CEO in November 2021, when Jack Dorsey stepped down.
However, things turned sour soon after. In April 2022, Musk tweeted “Is Twitter dying?” and then texted Agrawal saying that he was not joining the board and that he would make an offer to take Twitter private. He also accused Agrawal of misleading him on the number of spam-bot accounts on Twitter and said he was not confident about Twitter’s management.
Musk also wrote messages to Dorsey about his discussions with Agrawal. The leaked chats revealed that Dorsey had tried to get Musk and Agrawal together but things didn’t happen as he planned. He said: “You and I are in complete agreement… Parag is just moving far too slowly and trying to please people who will not be happy no matter what he does.” To this Dorsey replied, “At least it became clear that you can’t work together.”
The aftermath of Musk’s takeover and Agrawal’s departure
Musk eventually bought Twitter for $54.20 a share in cash in October 2022. As soon as he completed his acquisition, he fired four top executives at Twitter, including Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, legal head Vijaya Gadde, and product head Kayvon Beykpour.
Agrawal did not take his termination lightly. He filed a lawsuit against Musk’s company in November 2022, alleging breach of contract, wrongful termination, defamation, and fraud. He claimed that he was entitled to $30.4 million in stock awards as part of his compensation package for 2021. He also accused Musk of tarnishing his reputation by calling him a liar and using a poop emoji to reply to one of his tweets.
Musk has not commented publicly on the lawsuit yet. He has appointed his pet dog Floki, a Shiba Inu, as the new CEO of Twitter. He shared a picture of Floki wearing a Twitter branded T-shirt with CEO written on it and sitting on the CEO’s chair with a laptop in front of him.
Musk said that Floki is much better than the “other guy” and that he is amazing. He also said that Floki will make Twitter more fun and engaging for users.