Musk restructures Twitter’s legal team to reduce costs.


Musk restructures Twitter’s legal team to reduce costs. Elon Musk has reorganized Twitter’s legal team during the past two weeks, abolished a council that provided safety-related advice, and continues implementing dramatic cost-cutting measures.

According to seven people familiar with internal conversations, Mr. Musk appears to be preparing for legal battles at Twitter, which he acquired in October for $44 billion. One of his closest advisors was fired while he and his team reorganized Twitter’s legal department. In preparation for potential litigation, they have also told staff members not to pay vendors, according to the sources.

According to three people familiar with the situation, Twitter last paid rent for its San Francisco headquarters or any of its international operations in weeks.

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According to two people familiar with the discussions, Twitter’s executives have also discussed the implications of withholding severance payments from thousands of employees who have lost their jobs since the takeover. An internal email received last Friday claimed that Mr. Musk had threatened legal action against staff members who spoke to the media and “acted in a manner adverse to the company’s interest.”

The assertive actions show that Mr. Musk is still cutting costs and breaching or bending Twitter’s prior agreements to make his mark. His administration has been marked by disarray, numerous layoffs and resignations, reversals of the platform’s prior suspensions and policies, and arbitrary actions that have turned off advertisers.

A statement from Mr. Musk was not forthcoming.

A changing cast of legal counsel has supported Mr. Musk as he assumed the position of Twitter’s new CEO. Within hours of finalizing his acquisition in October, he fired both Twitter’s general counsel and the chief legal officer “for cause,” appointing his attorney, Alex Spiro, to oversee legal and policy matters at the business. According to six people familiar with the decision, Mr. Spiro is no longer employed by Twitter.

They claimed Mr. Musk had expressed dissatisfaction with several of Mr. Spiro’s choices. Mr. Spiro is a well-known criminal defense attorney who successfully represented the billionaire in a well-publicized defamation lawsuit in late 2019 and acted as Mr. Musk’s legal counsel.

One of those choices was made by Mr. Spiro, who decided to keep Twitter’s deputy general counsel, James A. Baker, despite Mr. Musk’s firings and layoffs. Before joining Twitter in 2020, Mr. Baker had worked for the FBI as general counsel from May 2017 to May 2018, advising the bureau on politically charged inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s email server and Donald J. Trump’s campaign.

Twitter has also started listing office supplies, commercial-grade kitchen equipment, and electronics from its San Francisco office for auction as part of additional cost-cutting measures.

According to four sources, Mr. Musk also keeps laying off employees and executives, including Nelson Abramson, the worldwide director of infrastructure at Twitter, and Alan Rosa, the global head of information technology and vice president of information security.

The Twitter team received two emails from Mr. Musk on Sunday night that contained tips for working for him that he had previously given to SpaceX and Tesla employees. One message was centered on first principles thinking, a worldview based on Aristotle’s ideas to reduce presumptions to fundamental axioms. Mr. Musk praised this approach for assisting him in making challenging judgments. The opposing viewpoint opposed organizational structures.

Members of Twitter’s advisory trust and safety council, established in 2016, were informed on Monday that the body would be disbanding immediately. The council, comprised of organizations dedicated to civil rights and child safety, was established to help Twitter navigate difficult safety and content moderation challenges.

According to Jodie Ginsberg, president of the Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the organizations collaborating in the council, “safety online can mean survival offline.” “Twitter must play a positive role in ensuring that journalists and the general people can receive and impart information without fear of retaliation,” says the statement’s author. “As a platform that has become a vital tool in both open and oppressive countries.