Parag Agrawal’s run as the chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. lasted less than year as billionaire Elon Musk removed him immediately after taking over the social media company in a $44-billion deal.
Yet, going by the terms of the takeover, he is expected to walk away with about $67 million.
Agrawal and Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal are entitled to 100% of their unvested stock, along with severance payout equivalent to base pay, according to Twitter’s deal terms with Musk. Other top executives including Vijaya Gadde, chief legal officer, are entitled to 50% of their unvested stock.
Agrawal already holds Twitter shares worth more than $6 million, according to Twitter’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He has unvested stock worth more than $59 million, and his base pay is $1 million.
Agrawal had joined a rarefied club on Indians leading global corporations in November 2021, alongside Satya Nadella of Microsoft Corp., Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc., Shantanu Narayen of Adobe Inc., and Indra Nooyi, who helmed PepsiCo for 12 years.
Agrawal, the 38-year-old alumnus from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and Stanford University, had joined Twitter in 2011. He was named the chief technology officer in 2017. He replaced co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO.
“Parag has been behind every critical decision that helped turn this company around. He’s curious, probing, rational, creative, demanding, self-aware, and humble. He leads with heart and soul, and is someone I learn from daily,” Dorsey had said at the time.
Within months of his taking over, Musk started overtures to acquire Twitter and then eventually became the largest shareholder. During the following months, Agarwal had multiple exchanges with Musk.
“I don’t have confidence in management,” Musk said in an early filing. Amid repeated swipes during the deal process, Musk asked his followers if Twitter was “dying.”
Agarwal responded: “You are free to tweet ‘is Twitter dying?’ or anything else about Twitter … but it’s my responsibility to tell you that it’s not helping me make Twitter better in the current context. Next time we speak, I’d like you to provide (your) perspective on the level of internal distraction right now and how [it’s] hurting our ability to do work . I’d like the company to get to a place where we are more resilient and don’t get distracted, but we aren’t there right now.”
It was increasingly becoming clear that Agarwal won’t keep his job if Musk takes over the microblogging site.
Musk even mocked Agrawal’s vacation in Hawaii during deal negotiations.
The former Twitter CEO also faced restive employees as Musk first offered to acquire Twitter and then withdrew citing doubts of bot accounts. That only increased uncertainty.
Twitter, however, pursued its claim legally, forcing Musk to finally take over the company. And ending Agrawal’s run at the helm.
Agrawal is married to Vineeta Agarwala, a physician and adjunct clinical professor at Stanford Medicine. They have two children.
(With inputs from PTI, Reuters and Bloomberg)