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Sacked Twitter executives at risk of being denied $90m payout by Elon Musk

Elon Musk with Twitter logo - DADO RUVIC/Reuters
Elon Musk with Twitter logo - DADO RUVIC/Reuters

Elon Musk could avoid giving a payout of up to $90m (£78m) to sacked senior Twitter executives after dismissing them “for cause”, it has been reported.

The new owner of the social media giant sacked four senior executives, including chief executive Parag Agrawal and finance chief Ned Segal, on Thursday, as he moved quickly to assert control over the company following the completion of his $44bn takeover.

Mr Musk, who also ousted Twitter’s head of legal and its general counsel, did so “for cause”, The Information reported, allegedly in an apparent bid to avoid having to pay them multimillion-dollar severance packages.

It came as the billionaire entrepreneur publicly mocked an email he received about an internal HR course for managers at Twitter.

The email said: “Managing @Twitter 101 covers what it means to be a good manager at Twitter by showing you how to create opportunities for impact, help your Tweeps grow their careers, and demonstrate care for your team.

“Psst…you’ve only got 30 days to finish this mandatory course. And once you’re done, we’ll enroll you in Managing @ Twitter 201.”

Mr Musk tweeted: “Just received this email from Twitter. This is an actual, real email that was auto generated. So demanding to allow a mere 30 days to learn this priceless information! But Management 201 is such a tantalizing carrot…”

Dismissing someone “for cause” means that Mr Musk believed he had justification to immediately terminate their contracts.

The four former executives were in line for payouts of around $90m, with Mr Agrawal set for a $38.7m reward, largely from shares due under various bonus schemes.

In the months leading up to the completion of the deal, Mr Musk repeatedly claimed that the company was poorly run.

However, the reported “for cause” sackings risk triggering a protracted legal battle with the former executives, who were reportedly considering their options over the weekend.

Meanwhile the Tesla chief executive has started to lay the groundwork for a wider round of job cuts at the social media company, asking managers at Twitter to draw up lists of their team members who could be axed.

Last week, Mr Musk told staff that suggestions he was planning to cut up to 75pc of the company’s headcount were inaccurate.

However, The Washington Post reported that he could still reduce Twitter’s headcount by 50pc, with its legal department and trust and safety - the arm that oversees content moderation - being among the first hit.

Earlier this month, Mr Musk said that “software engineering, server operations & design will rule the roost” following his takeover.

Twitter was contacted for comment.