Elon Musk and Parag Agrawal, then the CEO of Twitter, got dinner together in March 2022, and Musk emerged from the meeting thinking Agrawal was missing at least one key quality in a leader.
Walter Isaacson, a writer who spent three years trailing the Tesla CEO, detailed the aftermath of the encounter in his forthcoming biography, “Elon Musk.” The book is set to be published on September 12. The Wall Street Journal ran an excerpt of the biography on August 31.
After the meeting, Musk said Agrawal was a “really nice guy.” But, in Musk’s opinion, being a CEO doesn’t require being liked, Isaacson wrote.
“What Twitter needs is a fire-breathing dragon,” Musk said after that meeting, per Isaacson. “And Parag is not that.”
The context for the meeting — which predates Musk’s $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter and which Isaacson says was held over a secret dinner alongside Twitter’s board chair at the time, Bret Taylor — is important.
Just prior, it had become public knowledge that Musk was buying up stock in the platform still known as Twitter. By spring 2022, Musk had become Twitter’s biggest shareholder.
While this is Isaacson’s retelling of Musk’s version of events, another record of the pair’s dinner exits.
Messages between Musk and Agrawal were released in September 2022 as part of a lawsuit Twitter filed against Musk in July 2022. The messages showed that at least outwardly, the pair 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 responded.
“Memorable for multiple reasons,” Agrawal texted. “Really enjoyed it.”
Soon after the dinner, Agrawal announced that Musk was joining Twitter’s board.
But the cracks appeared soon after. In April, Musk fired off a tweet asking “Is Twitter dying?”
Agrawal and Musk then sparred over messages, with Musk writing: “I’m not joining the board. This is a waste of time. Will make an offer to take Twitter private.” Isaacson, too, recounts a similar version of events.
In April, Musk offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share in cash while saying he wasn’t confident about Twitter’s management — including Agrawal.
The two also clashed over how many bots were on the social media platform.
A deal was finally agreed upon to take Twitter private in October. One of the first things Musk did was to fire Agrawal.
In April Agrawal, Twitter’s ex-chief financial officer Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde, the former legal chief, sued Twitter for $1 million in unpaid bills.
In July, Musk rebranded Twitter to X and said he wanted to “bid adieu” to “all the birds,” referring to Twitter’s logo.
Agrawal did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.