Former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (L) is among those suing new owner Elon Musk (R)
Former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (L) is among those suing new owner Elon Musk (R) AFP News

Former top executives of Twitter sued Elon Musk on Monday saying he has failed to pay them nearly $130 million after the billionaire took over the social media company and dismissed them.

"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," they said in the lawsuit filed in a California federal court.

The plaintiffs include former CEO Parag Agrawal, who according to the lawsuit is claiming $57.4 million in benefits, as well as fired CFO Ned Segal who is asking for $44.5 million.

The other plaintiffs are former chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde and the company's then General Counsel Sean Edgett.

Musk terminated Agrawal, Gadde and Segal from their posts in late October of 2022 after closing his contentious $44 billion takeover of Twitter.

According to the suit, citing a recent authorized biography of Musk, the tycoon went out of his way to ensure the executives were not able to resign from the company before he fired them in the first moments after taking over.

The executives "appropriately and vigorously represented the interests of Twitter's public shareholders throughout Musk's wrongful attempt to renege on the deal," the suit said.

"For their efforts, Musk vowed a lifetime of revenge," it added.

This referred to the bitter months leading up to the buyout, when Agrawal and his team drew Musk's anger for going to court to hold the Tesla chief to the terms of a takeover deal he had tried to escape.

"Because Musk decided he didn't want to pay Plaintiffs' severance benefits, he simply fired them without reason, then made up (a) fake cause and appointed employees of his various companies to uphold his decision," the suit alleged.

Musk, a self-declared "free speech absolutist," vowed to remove restrictions at Twitter after he bought the platform.

Twitter has since been renamed to X, and has seen its staff numbers drastically slashed, with content moderation put on the back burner, with many previously banned accounts reinstated.

Musk has also seen major advertisers flee the site over the increase in troublesome content, and has struggled to build a strong enough subscription base to make up the lost revenue.

In a separate case, Agrawal, Gadde and Segal are suing Musk to be reimbursed for costs of litigation, investigations and congressional inquiries related to their former jobs.