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Musk thought Parag Agrawal wasn’t the ‘fire-breathing dragon’ Twitter needed

  • Elon Musk and then-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal had dinner together in March 2022.
  • Musk came back from the meeting describing Agrawal as a nice guy, but not the “fire-breathing dragon” Twitter needed.
  • That’s according to an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal from Musk’s forthcoming biography by Walter Isaacson.

Elon Musk and then-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal had dinner together in March 2022, and Musk walked out of the meeting thinking Agrawal lacked at least one key quality in a leader.

Walter Isaacson, a writer who has spent three years following the Tesla CEO, detailed the aftermath of the encounter in his upcoming biography, “Elon Musk.” The book is set to be released on September 12. The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from the biography on August 31.

After the meeting, Musk said Agrawal was a “really nice guy.” But, according to Musk, being a CEO doesn’t require being liked, Isaacson wrote.

“What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon,” Musk said after that meeting, according to Isaacson. “And Parag is not that.”

The background to the meeting — which predates Musk’s $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter and which Isaacson says took place over a secret dinner alongside the chairman of the board of Twitter of the time, Bret Taylor – is important.

Just before, it became public knowledge that Musk was buying shares on the platform still known as Twitter. By the spring of 2022, Musk had become Twitter’s largest shareholder.

Although Isaacson is telling Musk’s version of events, another recording of the couple’s dinner exists.

Messages between Musk and Agrawal were posted in September 2022 as part of a lawsuit filed by Twitter against Musk in July 2022. The messages showed that at least on the surface, the two men seemed cordial after that meeting.

“Hey Elon, great to be connected directly. Would love to chat,” Agrawal wrote in a message to Musk on March 27, 2022.

“Great dinner :),” Musk replied.

“Memorable for several reasons,” texted Agrawal. “Really appreciated.”

Shortly after dinner, Agrawal announcement that Musk was joining Twitter’s board of directors.

But the cracks appeared soon after. In April, Musk started a tweet asking “Is Twitter dying?”

Agrawal and Musk then argued over the posts, with Musk writing, “I’m not joining the board. It’s a waste of time. I’ll make an offer to make Twitter private.” Isaacson also recounts a similar version of events.

In April, Musk offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, while saying he didn’t trust Twitter’s management, including Agrawal.

The two also clashed over the number of bots on the social media platform.

A deal was finally reached to privatize Twitter in October. One of the first things Musk did was fire Agrawal.

In April, Agrawal, Twitter’s former chief financial officer, Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, the former chief legal officer, sued Twitter for $1 million in unpaid bills.

In July, Musk rebranded Twitter as X and said he wanted to “say goodbye” to “all the birds,” referring to the Twitter logo.

Agrawal did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside of normal business hours.

Read the full excerpt from Isaacson’s book on the Wall Street Journal website.


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