Musk bypasses Twitter’s legal succession plan amid takeover chaos

Musk bypasses Twitter’s legal succession plan amid takeover chaos

Elon Musk has internal options for new chief executive Twitter department as he assembles a group of senior leaders.

Two deputy general counsel, James Baker and Tina Hwang, were set to co-lead the department under a plan the former general counsel put in place before Musk fired him, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The plan by Sean Edgett, who had worked for Twitter since 2012, fell short amid the chaos that followed Musk’s takeover of the social media company two weeks ago and the mass layoffs he has set up, the three people said.

Filling the leadership vacuum for now is Alex Spiro, a litigation partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan who represented Musk in a legal battle that preceded the company’s $44 billion takeover. It is unclear how long he will remain in the role. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Baker, head of litigation at Twitter, joined the company in 2020 after serving as general counsel for the FBI. Hwang, who oversees product legal and intellectual property, was hired in 2021 after spending more than a decade at Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s WhatsApp.

Twitter is shuffling its top ranks after a massive round of job cuts that eliminated about half of the company’s more than 7,000 employees. What has emerged within the legal department is a flat leadership structure with various heads of legal groups vying for Spiro’s attention, the people said.

“I don’t watch Game of Thrones,” Marianne Fogarty, Twitter compliance officer, tweeted November 7. “I definitely don’t want to play it at work.”

Fogarty resigned from Twitter on Wednesday along with the company’s chief privacy officer and fellow attorney Damien Kieran, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Lea Kissner, Twitter’s chief security officer, also left, she said in a Tweeter.

Kieran, who also held the title of assistant general counsel, helped guide a $150 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission earlier this year. Concerns over compliance with the agreement prompted the departures, according to three people.

Fogarty’s compliance group saw about three-quarters of its employees laid off, the people said. Twitter also fired a human rights team led by attorney Shannon Raj Singh, she revealed. by Twitter and LinkedIn.

The San Francisco-based company has fired at least six other lawyers specializing in labor and employment, export controls, patents, products and cybersecurity, according to social media posts, a list of workers Twitter fired and the three people familiar with the company’s operations.

The layoffs and abrupt dismissals of Edgett and Vijaya Gadde, the company’s former chief legal officer, mark the latest chapter in Musk’s tumultuous history with attorneys.

Automaker Tesla Inc., led by Musk, recently named its fourth new legal leader since late 2019. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a rocket maker it controls, shuffled its legal ranks after laying off critical employees at towards Musk.

Gadde, who has spent nearly a dozen years on Twitter, had drawn Musk’s ire over his role in managing content moderation policies.

Anthony “Tony” Wang, a technology investor who was one of Twitter’s first legal hires, said he hopes Musk can be a positive force for change at the company.

“Content moderation is a known difficult issue,” Wang said. “The same goes for launching rockets and starting a car business in the United States. So we should welcome new attempts to solve difficult problems.

— With reporting by Justin Wise and Kurt Wagner.

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