NEW YORK - Elon Musk has completed his takeover of Twitter and has ousted several senior executives in his first move at the top of the company.
The billionaire appeared to confirm media reports of his takeover, tweeting shortly before 5am UK time on Friday: “the bird is freed”.
A US court had set a deadline of Friday for the Tesla and SpaceX boss to complete his 44 billion dollar (£38 billion) acquisition of the platform.
Twitter has not yet published any further statement confirming the deal, but several senior figures and board members, including Brett Taylor, who had served as the company’s chairman, have changed their social media profiles to reflect that they no longer work for the company.
According to reports, Mr Musk’s first act upon taking charge of the company was to dismiss chief executive Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal and general counsel and head of safety, Vijaya Gadde.
Mr Musk had publicly criticised both Mr Agrawal and Ms Gadde over Twitter policy in the months leading up to the takeover.
His chief criticism of the social media platform has been its policing of “free speech” – he has said he believes Twitter has been overzealous in its content moderation.
Mr Musk is expected to speak to Twitter employees directly on Friday, according to an internal memo cited in several media outlets.
A US court gave Mr Musk until Friday to close his April agreement to acquire the company after he tried to back out of the deal, leading to a lawsuit from Twitter to push through the acquisition.
On Thursday, Mr Musk posted a statement aimed at Twitter’s advertisers where he said he was acquiring the platform because he believed it was important to have a space where “a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner”.
That came after the billionaire SpaceX and Tesla boss posted a bizarre video of himself entering Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday carrying a sink alongside the message “Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in”.
He has also updated his bio on the social media platform to “Chief Twit” in a further nod to the deal being completed.
Mr Musk is said to have told staff during his visit to Twitter’s head office on Wednesday that it was not true that he was planning on cutting up to 75% of Twitter staff after acquiring the company.
It had previously been reported that Mr Musk told investors he planned to cut around three-quarters of the firm’s 7,500 employees.
Staff, Twitter users and industry experts are waiting to see what plans Musk has for the platform.
He has previously spoken of his belief in “absolute free speech” and suggested he would allow previously suspended and often controversial figures, including former US president Donald Trump, to return to the platform, which has alarmed online safety campaigners.
There have been reports that many staff plan to leave the company once the takeover is completed and some security campaigners have warned that Twitter could become an easy target for hackers in the aftermath of the deal and as Mr Musk restructures the firm.
Despite this internal confusion and low morale tied to fears of layoffs or a dismantling of the company’s culture and operations, Twitter leaders this week have at least outwardly welcomed Mr Musk’s arrival and messaging.
The billionaire has been pictured meeting with staff over several days at its San Francisco headquarters.
As part of his plans for the site, Mr Musk has also spoken of removing all spam and bot accounts from the site and using Twitter as part of a so-called “everything app” called X, where users are able to access a wide range of services in one place.
That is similar to WeChat in China, where users are able to access social media, online shopping and money transfer, taxi hire, restaurant booking and more from within one app.