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Twitter's Employees Aren't Sure They Trust Elon Musk

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tried to reassure employees in a leaked all-hands call.

A significant portion of Twitter's employee base are not thrilled that they will soon be working for Elon Musk.

The announcement that the Tesla CEO had succeeded in his aggressive $44 billion bid to buy Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report has reportedly upset many employees. 

Leaked messages on Slack revealed a worker base worried that Musk will gut what moderation exists on the service, which is already heavily criticized for not doing enough to rein in conspiracy theories and hate speech.

In an all-hands meeting that quickly leaked onto the internet, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Independent Board Chair Bret Taylor did their best to reassure employees that the shareholders board concluded that Musk's bid was the best thing for the company, and that their compensation would not be affected.

But a significant portion of the call found Agrawal making a concerted effort to reassure workers that Musk wants nothing but the best for the company and believes he can make it even better. 

Agrawal also acknowledged that after the deal closes in about three to six months, Twitter's Board of Directors will no longer exist. Naturally, Twitter's employees wanted to know if that means that Musk will be free to do whatever he wants.

Also Read: A Leaked Twitter All-Hands Call Reveals Employee Concerns

So Are There Any Restrictions On What Musk Can Do?

One of the employee's questions, read by by CMO Leslie Berland, asked "with no board in place, who will keep Elon accountable, and how?"

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In response, Taylor notes that there are still laws in the world, so the new boss can't just do whatever he wants. (It's worth nothing that the European Union has much stricter content moderation laws than the the United States.)

"So private companies are operating differently than public companies, but private companies are also subject to many of the same regulations we are as a public company in each of the jurisdictions that we operate," he said. 

"There will be a new structure in this place, and it doesn't change the broad regulatory structure in which Twitter operates, but certainly changes its governance structure. That's the way I would think about it."

So How Can We Trust Elon?

Agrawal understands that all in is not well with employees. He acknowledged at the top of the call that while many employees are excited about Musk taking over, many others are concerns. 

One questions addressed him directly, asking "during the last all-hands, you said that you trust Elon Musk. I think that the correct quote was, 'we trust him.' So who is 'we'? And talking to Elon, what made you trust him and have the best interests for the future of the company?"

In response, Agrawal recounted the conversations he's had with Musk since he joined the board, and tried to urge everyone to just keep an open mind and to see how this all goes.

"The way I think about what Elon wants to achieve.... I don't mean to quote him, but like I'm repeating some of what I have heard, which is not to say that I'm using that to predict what might happen," Agrawal says. "He wants Twitter to be a powerful, positive force in the world, just like all of us. He believes, and this is me assuming things based on a few conversations, but he believes Twitter matters, just like all of us.

"We can collaborate with people when you have some core shared foundations. We might all disagree on many other things. Some of them might be really important. But what I go back to... is to take a step back and think about my approach to the world. I come to the world with an open mind. I remain optimistic at my core, because I've spent the last ten years here. I believe in the power of Twitter. When someone else believes in the power of Twitter, there is a shared point that you reach, even if there are many other ways that you might not share views."