back to article Twitter's ex-CEO, CFO, and managers sue Elon Musk for $128M

Four top former executives who were let go after Elon Musk acquired the social media platform have sued the tech billionaire for $128 million in severance payments. Musk's $44 billion Twitter acquisition did not go smoothly. An avid tweeter, he became a major stakeholder in March 2022 and a month later made a bid to purchase …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the modern world. Take 128 million from somebody's house, spend the rest of your life in jail. Don't pay somebody 128 million when you should, let the lawyers fight over the settlement amount and spend your days on the beach. White collar crime isn't even crime.

  2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Poor

    Musk is a bit poorer due to the case that decided he had been awarded excessive ($56bn) Tesla stock options - now those lawyers want $6bn in Tesla shares as their fee, from Tesla.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2024/mar/02/lawyers-who-had-elon-musks-pay-dismissed-as-excessive-seek-6bn-in-tesla-shares

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2024/jan/30/elon-musk-tesla-pay-package-too-much-judge-rules

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor

      I think 6 billion is only 1% of the Tesla market cap, so this would give all shareholders a small haircut for helping them avoid a bigger one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Poor

        Yeah, but you know... 6 billion here, 6 billion there... pretty soon it adds up to real money.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Poor

      Very literally yesterday's news… but I can't be bothered to post the link! ;-)

  3. aerogems Silver badge
    Flame

    Screw that

    The four plaintiffs have asked judges to order X to pay each person one-year’s salary, the value of their stock options, and other insurance-related payments totaling over $128m.

    There needs to be some kind of punitive damages added on as well since this appears to have been premeditated. I don't give a rat's wet fart if that money goes to the plaintiffs, a charity, or they light it on fire. A fine that Xitler will actually feel needs to be levied to say that this kind of bullshit won't be tolerated. Then it needs to be applied to everyone. Trump, Xitler, and every other asshole with money who thinks they can just walk all over other people. Ideally they could find some reason to sanction his lawyer, who probably orchestrated the whole thing, like for suborning fraud and/or possibly perjury, but that's probably getting greedy. Assuming he's at least smarter than the average Trump lawyer, he made sure his part in things was just this side of the law. Then again, isn't Spiro on the outs with Xitler these days? Maybe he'd be willing to testify in exchange for leniency in any professional sanctions.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Screw that

      Yeah I think the laws need to be adjusted so when stuff like this isn't a one time thing but a standard way of doing business (which is pretty clear in Musk's case as there are multiple such lawsuits and he's stiffing landlords, contractors, and others) that it be treated like antitrust fines where they are tripled. And if he loses the initial case he should be required to put up the full amount (plus the treble damages) into an escrow account, and keep topping it up to pay interest, while the appeals are ongoing.

      Because if he's allowed to pull a Trump and drag these things out through the courts for years, Twitter may go bankrupt in the meantime and then there will be nothing left for the plaintiffs to collect. Which is probably Musk's calculation, he doesn't want to waste cash on stupid things like paying agreed upon severance packages or rent when that money could be used to keep Twitter open longer. And if it goes under he will feel like he's "won" by screwing the little guy!

      1. aerogems Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Screw that

        Interesting thought. I'd say it should qualify as a RICO case. Just for the lulz I looked up the definition of racketeering, and looks like it fits what's going on pretty well.

        Racketeering is a type of organized crime in which the persons set up a coercive, fraudulent, extortionary, or otherwise illegal coordinated scheme or operation to repeatedly or consistently collect a profit.

        If he's deliberately not abiding by the terms of contracts in an effort to try to save money, or at least kick the can down the road for when he has to actually pay up, that sounds like a fraudulent scheme to me. And if it's being done as a matter of course, instead of a one-off, and there's no efforts being made to renegotiate the terms or even amount of the debt, that makes it a coordinated scheme in my book. Ostensibly, all the people Xitler has stiffed could bring a RICO case against him under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Something I would very much like to see happen. And if his lawyer(s) are in on the scheme, go after them too. They're the types who give other lawyers a bad rep. Lawyers are literally paid to argue, so most of them aren't the most friendly of people, but it doesn't mean they are all unethical and unscrupulous assholes like the people Trump and Xitler seem to gravitate towards. Also, interestingly, if his lawyers were in on the scheme, that would make for an excellent scenario where privilege could be revoked. I'm betting Spiro's records include a lot of buried bodies that would be extremely damaging if they ever came to light.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge
    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Screw that

      For the damage that the plaintiffs did to free speech, democracy and suppression of the truth (refer to the Twitter Files), I think they got off extremely lightly.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Screw that

          A PDF written by the hard leftists at Media Matters does not constitute a debunking.

          1. aerogems Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Screw that

            Says the coward who won't even put their name to their comments.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Screw that

              "who won't even put their name to their comments."

              Your mom named you "aerogems"? r/tragedeigh

              1. aerogems Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Screw that

                Nice straw man, but it's still many months until halloween.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Screw that

                  Assuming you meant to say "strawman": you really believe that labeling your comments with a nickname like "aerogems" is in any way "owning" your comments? You are still just an anonymous voice, not connected to any meaningful personhood.

                  Do you really believe that anyone sees your nickname and reacts like they would if they actually met you and could possibly form an opinion whether they'd ever like to meet you a second time?

                  You are hiding behind exactly the same level of anonymity as my using AC here. Trying to "call out" anyone for "hiding behind AC" is literally laughably inane. The incredible level of self-delusion could almost fill the hole left by the lack of self-awareness.

                  1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                    Re: Screw that

                    Wow, is this one hard of thinking. I'm not surprised it chooses anonymity.

                  2. aerogems Silver badge

                    Re: Screw that

                    You see that little spec up in the sky? It's not superman, it's not the ISS, it's not even santa claus. It would be the point that you continue to miss as it sails over your head.

                    The point is, I stake my reputation within the El Reg community with every post I make because I put it under the name everyone here knows me by. Whether it's pointing out the stupidity of Xitler, which seems to be a popular opinion, or pointing out that Microsoft doesn't have some secret cabal of managers who all sit around a conference room brainstorming ideas of how to screw people over, which seems to be an unpopular opinion, I put my name to it.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Screw that

                      "The point is, I stake my reputation within the El Reg community with every post"

                      The point is, that whole statement is just a delusion.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Screw that

            Then it should be easy for you to refute the points it makes. You can't just point to the author and say "I don't trust them therefore this is all lies".

            (Well, you can, obviously. But it makes you look like a total asshat.)

            1. aerogems Silver badge
              Holmes

              Re: Screw that

              Contestant: I'll take "Simp Fighting" for $300 Alex!

              Alex: Facts, reason, and logic.

              Contestant: What are three things that simps never bother with?

              Alex: Correct! We also would have accepted, "What is the Simp Warrior's unholy trinity?"

      2. aerogems Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Screw that

        The OG Twitter did almost none of those things. Maybe some damage to democracy by being lax in cracking down on disinformation, but the rest... a bunch of whiny snowflake conservatives who acted like they were above the rules got slapped down. I fail to see the problem there, aside from having to listen to said whiny snowflakes self-delusional whining about how it's because they're conservatives and not because they are assholes who consistently violated the rules they agreed to when signing up for the service. The buck always stops waaaaay over there with those types, which makes them all the more unsufferable when they start preaching about personal responsibility.

        Liberals can be annoying AF too, but at least they mean well and try to help others, even if sometimes they fuck things up in a major way. Conservatives these days live by the motto "fuck you, I got mine" and being cruel is a point of personal pride. There's no real serious effort to govern, just take whatever isn't nailed down for themselves and leave everyone else with nothing.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Screw that

      He should really have launched a suit himself alleging negligence and used that to beat down the settlement. If this goes to trial he'll lose and will face costs, and potentially additional damages, though I suspect the real loss will be to non-material things like the ability to get good staff and investment.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Screw that

        ..though I suspect the real loss will be to non-material things like the ability to get good staff and investment...

        I'm pretty certain that boat sailed a loooooong time ago...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Screw that

          Employees? Probably. But investment? I'm sure there are still plenty of fanbois lining up shouting "Hey Elon! Have some more of our money! (Nod to a The Day Today sketch about a TV preacher convicted of embezzlement and "heinous parking", but I can't find the link…). But also, until there is proper governance between the various companies, investors keen to lend on A hoping to collect on B…

      2. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Screw that

        He had no grounds, and I'm guessing Spiro is at least a little smarter than the average Trump lawyer in that he knows judges tend to not be pleased when people knowingly file baseless lawsuits like that. If he had even a scintilla of evidence that the former Twitter execs actually did any of the things he alleges, he would have filed a lawsuit. This is just another "pedo guy" incident. He was personally embarrassed by these people, so he's slandering them because he seems to have the emotional maturity of a 10-year-old. And 10-year-olds have the excellent defense of being 10, Xitler is in his 50s.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Screw that

      They’ll just plea bargain it.

      Pay as you go Criminality..

  4. Mr Dogshit
    Meh

    And people buy cars from this weirdo.

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      They had two of them on display in my local shopping centre yesterday. Took a close look - they look incredibly cheap and poorly made, which surprised me as I had assumed the interior and trim would at least look superficially decent.

      1. Noram

        I've looked at a few of his cars, and a friend put it really well.

        "They've got worse build quality than a ******* Kia Rio."

        It amazes me how many people will spend 40k on a car with panel, paint and trim issues that make 2003 Kia Rio look good.

        The aforementioned friend had one from new, it lasted him something like 10 years without any major issue, not bad for a car that apparently cost him under 7k (it was really basic, but it was put together properly which doesn't seem to be the case with Tesla's).

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          That 40k car is just a 10k car on top of a 30k battery

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Probably more like a 2k car on top of a 15k battery

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cars are appliances. If a particular model is the best one for the job, who the hell cares about the manufacturer?

      The funny thing about Teslas is that they were adored by liberal greenies everywhere as an excellent way of displaying their eco* virtue. Now they realise that the owner of the brand doesn't align with their political views, they're desperately seeking alternatives!

      * - Anyone with half a brain knows that the EVs and the lithium batteries they contain are anything but green, however we're discussing liberals here.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge
      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        The funny thing about Teslas is that they were adored by liberal greenies everywhere greenwashing wankers as an excellent way of displaying their eco* virtue.

        There, FTFY.

        The average "liberal greenie" (if you can find one who doesn't cycle everywhere) doesn't earn enough to drive such an expensive car. Nobody ever got rich knitting tofu. Meanwhile, the Tesla has taken over from the white Audi as the car most likely to be driven six inches from your rear bumper at 80mph on the M4. It always was an arsehole's car, I can't recall anyone, ever, who fits the description of "greenie" advocating for me to buy one.

        Meanwhile, whilst I live in a flat with no infrastructure for charging an EV, I will stick with my mid-range, practical, petrol car.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Saw my first Cybertruck in the wild the other day. Looks like if someone did a 3D printing of a of an El Camino from a PS1 racing gam. They look fucking ridiculous and cannot be very aerodynamic, which means they'll need to be charged more often, leading to more pollution from power plants, and when the battery pack fails, there's a lot of toxic elements in there as well.

      I just really do not understand the whole cult of personality thing. There are a lot of things in life that are worth that kind of devotion. A spouse, a child, maybe even a career... but a fucking car, or some asshole who runs the company that makes the car? Just, no.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Yeah, I've been reading through the back catalog of Tim Urban's WaitButWhy, which is often entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking, even if only in a just-a-blog-post manner. But whenever Urban mentions Musk I know I'm in for some breathless hagiography. True, these posts antedate Musk's Twitter disaster, "pedo guy", and some of his other more notorious failings; but, seriously, even in 2010 someone thoughtful like Urban couldn't tell Musk is an utter tool? Yet Urban literally called him a modern Galileo.

        But that's the thing. People are bad at evaluating others, and they're bad at reassessing their own ideas in light of new evidence. We are, as a species, very vulnerable to cults of personality, and sometimes people who are socially awkward or anxious in particular ways are even more vulnerable than average. (Less-developed defenses? Perhaps, but I think it's more complicated than that.)

        Really the only solution is to distrust everyone else and be correct about everything all the time, which is my preferred approach.

        1. aerogems Silver badge

          One of these days, I hope someone does a research study into why it is engineers and the like are the more likely ones to be sucked into cults. These are people who are trained in rigorous logic with loads of math and everything, yet somehow they're the ones who tend to be the biggest god botherers, or among the first people sucked into a cult. You'd think it'd be the artistic types who are always looking for alternatives to established norms, but that seems to largely inure them as opposed to making them more vulnerable. That apparent reversal of what would seem to be common sense is fascinating to me.

  5. willyslick

    So Musk has a verbal agreement with the management of the company he is buying on how they will leave the company, and as soon as they turn their back he completely reneges on what was agreed on so he can avoid paying some severance? Not really empathetic to the others involved....How does this mind work? I suppose this A***hole really thinks normal human rules and decency do not apply to him because...????

    1. wobball

      Lick, lick, lick ma balls!

      I'm a freakin' genius, bro!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Move over Donald

    The new kid on the block is getting sued more than you... for stiffing employees and contractors (like DJT is famous for).

    Why do people as rich as this become total dirtbags/scumbags/assholes in a very short time after getting rich?

    They don't have to be like this.

    If you are a lawyer for SKUM (anagram of Musk) I do hope that your contract is 'Pay me upfront' because the next step is to stiff your lawyers. (just like DJT)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Move over Donald

      They're scumbags all along, that's one of the reasons they get rich.

      1. usbac Silver badge

        Re: Move over Donald

        I wish I had 100 upvotes to give...

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Move over Donald

          Here, have one of these.

          Mind you, mine's a pint…

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Move over Donald

        Maybe that's because they were never not rich- both were born into backgrounds that were already wealthy and privileged. In Musk's case, he leveraged that.

        In Trump's case, that's pretty much where his wealth came from in the first place- it's generally reckoned he'd have been as rich if not richer than he is today if he'd just invested the money he inherited in the first place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Move over Donald

          How rich is he? We don't know, as he's fought tooth and nail to prevent his tax returns from being released - after promising to release them.

          I have often wondered if he ran for President in an effort to keep from going bankrupt.

    2. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Musk counters that the execs he let go committed gross negligence and willful misconduct

      And just like Trump, every accusation he makes about others is really a confession about his own misconduct.

    3. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: Move over Donald

      "Why do people as rich as this become total dirtbags/scumbags/assholes in a very short time after getting rich?"

      In the case of Musk and Trump, they were born into very wealthy families. Musk's family made its fortune from mining gems using poorly paid black South Africans during the Apartheid era. Trump's family from real estate with massive corruption to get tax breaks and even subsidies during the "machine" politics era of New York.

      Can't speak for Musk's family dynamics, but Trump's father was a nasty piece of work. He wanted his eldest son to be a ruthless businessman like himself, then when he took a different career path and became an alcoholic basically wanted as little to do with him as possible. Following the eldest son's death, Donald was belatedly promoted to heir apparent but has seemed to have an inferiority complex that he tries to hide with bluster and lies.

    4. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Move over Donald

      Why do people as rich as this become total dirtbags/scumbags/assholes in a very short time after getting rich?

      I think you have cause and effect mixed up there, buddy.

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