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Elon Musk dissolves Twitter’s board, pushes for subscription changes

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018.
Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018. (Photo by Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr, Graphic by The Desk)

Elon Musk has dissolved Twitter’s nine-person board of directors less than a week after taking full ownership of the social media company.

The news was made in a regulatory filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday, in which a Twitter representative asserted the end of the board was in line with conditions of Musk’s $44 billion purchase of the company.

Twitter’s board included former CEO Parag Agrawal, Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor, businessman Omid Kordestani, tech mogul David Rosenblatt, philanthropist Martha Lane Fox, former Google CFO Patrick Pichette, founding partner of Silverlake Egon Durban, Stanford University Professor Fei-Fei Li and finance executive Mimi Alemayehou.

Last week, Musk fired Agrawal and two other senior executives immediately after the Twitter deal closed. Also dismissed was one of Twitter’s senior counsel, according to reports.

With the board dissolved, Musk named himself sole director of the company, the Wall Street Journal said.

The corporate shake-up is just one of several changes Musk has carried out since becoming the sole owner of Twitter last week. According to a report published by technology website the Verge over the weekend, Musk has reportedly ordered Twitter’s engineers to make changes to the company’s subscription product, Twitter Blue, by the middle of the month.

Those changes include rolling Twitter’s verification process into a paid product: If a user wants the coveted blue badge and checkmark, they will reportedly have to pay $20 a month for the privilege as part of the revamped Twitter Blue subscription, the Verge reported. Users who are currently verified will have three months to pay for Twitter Blue, or they lose their badge, the Verge said.

The purported plans — which have not been announced or even confirmed by Twitter — set off a firestorm of criticism from verified and non-verified Twitter users alike. Some journalists expressed concern that they might have to pay out of pocket for Twitter verification if their jobs refuse to do so.

Currently, Twitter Blue costs $5 a month and offers a handful of features, including the ability to upload high-definition video up to 10 minutes in length, the option of re-arranging a user’s home screen buttons within the Twitter smartphone and tablet apps, and a perk that allows users to visit some news websites without adds when they click on a link from a Twitter Blue publishing partner. (Publishing partners are paid by Twitter for their participation in the program.)

As of its most-recent financial quarter, Twitter said it had more than 450 million monthly active users around the world. The majority of its revenue was from advertisements placed on the news feeds of its users.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).