The saga of Elon Musk and the abandoned Twitter acquisition has a little bit of everything–except for a clear protagonist. Maybe that’s finally changing. But first…
Almost no one comes out looking good in the 40 pages of text messages released last week by the Delaware Chancery Court as part of the never-ending spectacle that is Twitter v. Musk. In the published exchanges, investors and bankers solicitously maneuver for a piece of the deal, Friends of Elon carefully stoke his ego, and major media figures obsequiously angle for an interview.
Even Twitter Inc. co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, who originally tried to talk Musk into joining the board and then attempting to take the company private, metaphorically throws his own garments up onto the stage. “I couldn’t be happier you’re doing this,” he texts as Musk was on the verge of becoming a board member. “Got very emotional when I learned it was finally possible.”
But reading through the many pages of messages, there’s one figure who approached the world’s wealthiest person on an even keel: current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal. At first, Agrawal, who has been at Twitter for more than a decade and was named chief executive last November, is solicitous to the guy who might become one of his bosses on the board of directors. “I’m super excited about the opportunity and look forward to working closely and finding ways to use your time as effectively as possible to improve Twitter and the public conversation,” he writes on April 3.
Over the next few days, Musk and Agrawal communicate directly via text messages and have at least one late-night phone call, and Musk floats some of his notions for change. “Would be great to unwind permanent bans, except for spam accounts and those that explicitly advocate violence,” he texts Agrawal on April 5th. Agrawal doesn’t respond to this text—or if he does, it isn’t included in the data dump. In fact, opening the floodgates to banned conspiracy theorists such as, say, Alex Jones (not to mention a certain former president) would have significant ramifications on the tenor of conversation on Twitter.
Instead, Agrawal invites Musk to talk about his specific technical ideas for the long embattled social network, asking him to “treat me like an engineer” instead of a CEO and promising to evaluate his proposals neutrally. “I want to hear all the ideas—and I’ll tell you which ones ill make progress on vs not. And why,” Agrawal texts on April 7th. He also asks Musk to speak to Twitter staff and answer questions, including “some from people who are upset that you are involved and generally don’t like you for some reason.”