Ex-Twitter Execs Sue Elon Musk Over Unpaid Severance

Four former Twitter executives, including former chief executive Parag Agrawal, have sued the company, now known as X, and current owner Elon Musk alleging they are owed $128 million (£101m) in unpaid severance in what they said was a deliberate move to “cheat” them to save money.

Agrawal, along with former chief financial officer Ned Segal, head of legal Vijaya Gadde and general counsel Sean Edgett, said Musk took revenge on them for suing him after he attempted to renege on his deal to buy Twitter, a $44bn deal that finally concluded in October 2022.

The executives said Musk fired them minutes after taking control of Twitter, accused them of misconduct and denied them the severance they had been promised for years before he took over.

Each said they were owed a year’s salary and hundreds of thousands of stock options.

Image credit: Elon Musk/X/Twitter

‘Rules don’t apply’

“Musk doesn’t pay his bills, believes the rules don’t apply to him, and uses his wealth and power to run roughshod over anyone who disagrees with him,” says the lawsuit, filed on Monday in California’s Northern District federal court.

The lawsuit makes reference to more than 25 vendor nonpayment lawsuits filed against X by companies including software and service providers and the landlord of its San Francisco headquarters, arguing Musk and X have been “stiffing employees, landlords, vendors, and others” since the Twitter takeover.

The filing makes reference to comments Musk made to official biographyer Walter Isaacson that “he would ‘hunt every single one of’ Twitter’s executives and directors ’till the day they die'”.

“These statements were not the mere rantings of a self-centred billionaire surrounded by enablers unwilling to confront him with the legal consequences of his own choices. Musk bragged to Isaacson specifically how he planned to cheat Twitter’s executives out of their severance benefits in order to save himself $200m,” the complaint argues.

Unpaid bills

Settlement talks between X and ex-Twitter managers and engineers recently broke down in a Delaware lawsuit over $500m in allegedly unpaid severance.

Last month former Twitter staff in Ghana reached a settlement with X for payment more than a year after they were laid off.

The Ghana-based staff alleged they received no notice period and no severance pay, after many had relocated from neighbouring countries such as Nigeria with their families and became trapped in Accra.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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