Vijaya Gadde (born 1974)[1] is an American attorney, who served as general counsel and the head of legal, policy, and trust at Twitter.[2][3] Her role included handling issues such as harassment, misinformation, and harmful speech, and other decisions made by Twitter.[4][5] On October 27, 2022, she was fired by Elon Musk, following his acquisition of Twitter.[6][7][8]

Vijaya Gadde
Gadde in 2021
Born1974 (age 49–50)
EducationCornell University (BS)
New York University (JD)

In 2014, she was described by Fortune as the most powerful woman on Twitter's executive team, though she was later joined by Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland.[9][10][2]

Early life and education edit

Gadde was born in India to a Telugu family and moved to the United States at age three.[9][11] Her father pursued graduate studies in the United States and initially did not have the financial means to send for his wife and daughter until Gadde turned three.[12] Her family moved to Beaumont, Texas.[13]

Gadde received a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and labor relations from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law in 2000.[2][9][14]

Career edit

Before joining Twitter in 2011, Gadde spent nearly a decade working at the Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She was also senior director in the legal department of Silicon Valley technology firm Juniper Networks.[12][14] While at WSGR, Gadde worked on the 2006 $4.1 billion McClatchy Co.-Knight Ridder Inc. acquisition and acted as counsel to the New York Stock Exchange’s Proxy Working Group and Committee on Corporate Governance.[13][14]

In 2018 she announced Twitter's hiring of researchers to study the health of discourse on the platform.[15]

In 2018, Gadde joined Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for meetings in India where they talked with several Dalit activists about their experiences on Twitter; after the meeting, the activists gave Dorsey a sign reading "Smash Brahminical Patriarchy," which he was later photographed holding.[16] The photograph attracted controversy, with some critics calling the sentiment discriminatory against Brahmins while others deemed it an appropriate response to caste- and gender-based oppression in India.[16] Gadde responded to the social media furor with an apology in a series of tweets, "I'm very sorry for this. It's not reflective of our views. We took a private photo with a gift just given to us - we should have been more thoughtful. Twitter strives to be an impartial platform for all. We failed to do that here & we must do better to serve our customers in India."[16]

In 2019 she convinced then-CEO Jack Dorsey not to sell political advertisements during the 2020 United States presidential election, a high profile move which received both praise and criticism.[2]

She was one of the key officials at Twitter involved in decisions to suspend the account of former American President Donald Trump.[17]

Gadde earned nearly $17 million in 2021 as Twitter's chief legal officer, and earned roughly $7.3 million in 2020.[18]

Following the announcement of the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk in 2022, Gadde received renewed attention. Musk contested the existing policies of Twitter, saying the platform should only remove content if required by the law, and criticized Gadde for the decision to block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden.[19][20][18] It was reported that Gadde expressed concerns and talked about significant uncertainties about the future of Twitter under the potential leadership of Musk during a virtual meeting with the policy and legal teams.[21] Musk's criticism of Gadde generated some controversy due to online abuse that Gadde subsequently received, including racist slurs, and speculation that Musk's criticism may have violated the terms of the takeover agreement, which prohibited Musk from posting disparaging tweets regarding the company or its representatives.[19][22][23]

Musk's comments echoed some other criticism of Gadde, especially from the political right, who have accused her of being Twitter's "top censorship advocate”, for her role in suspending former U.S. President Donald Trump's Twitter account. It also followed criticism of the decision by Twitter, in which Gadde was involved, to prevent users from sharing a New York Post story regarding Hunter Biden's laptop during the 2020 U.S. election where his father Joe Biden was a candidate. Jack Dorsey later characterized the decision as a mistake.[4] Gadde has been defended by others, including by former colleagues and law professor Danielle Citron, who said that Gadde understood the impact of online harassment.[4]

Elon Musk's letter to terminate the purchase of Twitter on July 8, 2022, was addressed to Gadde, as Twitter’s Chief Legal Officer.[24][25] She was fired for cause after completion of the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk on October 27, 2022,[6][26] alongside at least three other Twitter executives, including the CEO.[7]

In 2023, Gadde received a subpoena to testify alongside James Andrew Baker and Yoel Roth, the former deputy general counsel and former head of safety and integrity, at a session of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. The hearings are regarding Twitter's suppression of reporting related to the Hunter Biden laptop controversy.[27][28][29]

References edit

  1. ^ Conger, Kate; Isaac, Mike (January 16, 2021). "Inside Twitter's Decision to Cut off Trump". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d Scola, Nancy (October 28, 2020). "Is Twitter Going Full Resistance? Here's the Woman Driving the Change". Politico. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "About Twitter | Our company purpose, principles, leadership". Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Dwoskin, Elizabeth; Zakrzewski, Cat; Oremus, Will; Menn, Joseph. "Twitter lawyer long weighed safety, free speech. Then Musk called her out". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  5. ^ "Twitter's top lawyer 'cried' during team meeting over Elon Musk deal". The Independent. April 27, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Siddiqui, Faiz; Dwoskin, Elizabeth (October 27, 2022). "Top Twitter executives fired as Elon Musk takeover begins". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ a b Conger, Kate; Hirsch, Lauren (October 28, 2022). "Elon Musk Completes $44 Billion Deal to Own Twitter". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  8. ^ Field, Matthew (October 28, 2022). "Everyone Musk has fired at Twitter". The Telegraph. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  9. ^ a b c "Vijaya Gadde". Fortune. October 9, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  10. ^ Wagner, Kurt (August 24, 2017). "Twitter CMO Leslie Berland is also taking over human resources as the new 'Head of People'". Recode. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Chidan, Rajghatta (January 10, 2021). "Meet the desi who shapes policy at Twitter". The Times of India. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Gupta, Shalene (October 24, 2014). "Twitter's top female exec on discrimination and overcoming adversity". Fortune. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Frier, Sarah (May 13, 2014). "Twitter's Vijaya Gadde Fights for Free Speech, Revenue". News India Times. Archived from the original on February 14, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c "Vijaya Gadde: "From Texas to Twitter"". NYU School of Law. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  15. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley (July 30, 2018). "Twitter hires researchers to study the 'health' of its 'discourse'". CNNMoney. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  16. ^ a b c "Twitter CEO trolled for 'smash Brahminical patriarchy' placard". Al Jazeera. November 20, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  17. ^ Clare Duffy and Rishi Iyengar (October 27, 2021). "This exec was central to banning Trump on Twitter. Now she's facing thorny issues in democracies abroad". CNN. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  18. ^ a b Baxter, Brian (April 4, 2022). "Before Musk Stock Buy, Twitter Top Lawyer's Pay Jumped 130% (1)". Bloomberg Law. Retrieved April 29, 2022.
  19. ^ a b Wagner, Kurt (April 26, 2022). "Musk Is Barred From Disparaging Twitter When Tweeting About Deal". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  20. ^ "Twitter's top lawyer 'cried' during team meeting over Elon Musk deal". The Independent. April 27, 2022.
  21. ^ Birnbaum, Emily; Woodruff Swan, Betsy (April 26, 2022). "Twitter's top lawyer reassures staff, cries during meeting about Musk takeover". Politico. Retrieved April 27, 2022.
  22. ^ Bhattacharya, Ananya (April 27, 2022). "An Indian-born female Twitter executive received a barrage of abuse following a Musk tweet". Quartz. Archived from the original on April 30, 2022. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  23. ^ Wagner, Kurt; Adler, Maxwell (April 27, 2022). "Twitter Legal Executive Hit With Online Abuse Following Musk Tweet". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  24. ^ Vanian, Jonathan (July 9, 2022). "Elon Musk has been expressing buyer's remorse over Twitter for months". CNBC. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  25. ^ "Exhibit P". Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  26. ^ Corse, Alexa (April 10, 2023). "Former Twitter Executives Sue Platform for Unpaid Fees". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 10, 2023.
  27. ^ "Ex-Twitter execs to face GOP questioning on Hunter Biden". AP NEWS. February 8, 2023. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  28. ^ Brown, Alayna Treene,Pamela (February 6, 2023). "House Oversight chairman and former Twitter employees strike deal on subpoenas in exchange for testimony | CNN Politics". CNN. Retrieved February 8, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ "Ex-Twitter execs to face GOP questioning on Hunter Biden". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 8, 2023.