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Monday, February 6, 2023

In an effort to reduce costs even more, Musk has reshuffled Twitter’s legal team

Elon Musk has reorganised Twitter’s legal department, abolished a council that advised the social media business on safety problems, and is continuing to take dramatic actions to reduce expenses during the last two weeks. In addition, he has taken a number of other drastic moves.

According to seven individuals who are acquainted with Twitter’s internal communications, it seems as if Mr. Musk is getting ready for legal fights at Twitter, which he acquired in October for a total price of $44 billion. In the process of reorganising Twitter’s legal department, he and his staff are responsible for the departure of one of his most trusted advisors. According to the persons, they have also advised their staff not to pay their suppliers in preparation of the possibility of legal action.

According to three sources close to the firm, Twitter has not paid the rent for its headquarters in San Francisco or any of its worldwide locations for some weeks now in an effort to reduce operating expenses. According to a copy of a complaint that was filed in New Hampshire District Court and acquired by The New York Times, Twitter has also refused to pay a bill for private charter flights totaling $197,725 that was incurred during the week that Mr. Musk took control of the company.

According to two individuals familiar with the discussions, the leadership of Twitter has also examined the potential repercussions of not offering severance packages to the thousands of employees who have lost their jobs as a result of the purchase. According to an email that was sent internally on Friday, Mr. Musk has warned staff that they might face legal action if they discuss the business with the media or “act in a way that is harmful to the firm’s interest.”

It is clear from Mr. Musk’s aggressive efforts that he is continuing to cut costs and is either bending or violating Twitter’s earlier agreements in an effort to make his imprint. His reign has been marked by disarray, a succession of resignations and layoffs, reversals of the platform’s earlier bans and restrictions, and arbitrary judgments that have drove away advertisers. These factors have contributed to the decline in the number of users.

Mr. Musk has had a revolving cast of legal specialists at his side as he has moved into the job of new head of Twitter. These legal professionals have been there throughout the process. Within hours after completing his purchase of Twitter in October, he removed Twitter’s chief legal officer and general counsel from their positions “for cause” and replaced them with his own attorney, Alex Spiro, as the person in charge of the company’s legal and policy concerns.

Six different persons who are acquainted with the decision have confirmed that Mr. Spiro has left his position at Twitter. According to the statements made by those individuals, Mr. Musk has been dissatisfied with several of Mr. Spiro’s decisions. Mr. Spiro is a well-known criminal defence attorney who represented the billionaire successfully in a high-profile defamation case in late 2019 and worked his way into the inner circle of the Twitter owner.

During Mr. Musk’s several rounds of layoffs and firings, Mr. Spiro made the choice to keep James A. Baker on as Twitter’s deputy general counsel. This was one of those judgments. The highly charged investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and Donald J. Trump’s campaign were ongoing when Mr. Baker joined Twitter in 2020 after serving as general counsel at the F.B.I. until May 2018, during which time he advised the agency on both investigations.

As a result of firings and resignations, the legal department at Twitter has been decimated, and CEO Elon Musk has turned to attorneys from other firms he owns, such as rocket manufacturer SpaceX, to fill the hole. According to two persons and papers that were viewed by The Times, more than a half dozen attorneys from the space exploration corporation have been allowed access to Twitter’s internal infrastructure. Chris Cardaci, the vice president of legal for SpaceX, and Tim Hughes, the senior vice president of the company’s worldwide business and government affairs division, are two examples of the workers of SpaceX who have been recruited by Twitter.

Twitter is facing more inquiries from the Federal Trade Commission, which is probing whether the firm is still complying to a consent order. These concerns are among the legal issues that Twitter is now experiencing. After two separate data breaches in 2011, the corporation agreed to the terms of a consent decree with the F.T.C. and said that it would not mislead consumers about the extent to which their privacy would be protected. In order to address charges that it had breached the conditions of that consent decree, which had been enlarged, the corporation made a payment to the F.T.C. and the Justice Department in the amount of $150 million in May.

According to two individuals with knowledge of the case, the F.T.C. has sent letters to Twitter in which it inquires as to whether or not the company still has the resources and employees necessary to comply with the consent order. A spokesperson for the FTC refused to comment on the matter.

On Sunday night, Mr. Musk sent two emails to the staff of Twitter with advise on how to work for him that he had previously provided with the workers of SpaceX and Tesla. The advice was similar to what he had given to those employees. One of the messages was on first principles thinking, which is a worldview that is founded on the teachings of Aristotle to reduce assumptions to fundamental axioms.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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