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Who is Vijaya Gadde? Former legal head leaves Musk-led Twitter with Rs 610 crores

A few moments after Elon Musk had declared that he’d “freed the bird,” Twitter’s top executives were released from their positions. This includes now former legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde who’s most known for leading the charge against permanently suspending Donald Trump’s official handle. Here’s all about her.

A string of Twitter’s top names – chief executive officer Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal – were asked to step down from their responsibilities amidst charges of misleading the new owner Elon Musk as well as Twitter investors over the real figures on fake accounts and bots. Also on the chopping board was Indian-American Vijaya Gadde – the general counsel of the micro-blogging platform. She was given a hefty payout of Rs 610 crore approximately and is currently the subject of a string of chatter on social media. We’re taking a look at her journey so far.

Vijaya Gadde was born in India

Born in 1974 to a Telugu family, Gadde moved to the United States at the age of three. Reportedly, this was only after her father – a struggling graduate student – could secure the financial resources to send for her and her mother. Raised in Beaumont, Texas, she noted in several interviews that her childhood was affected by the presence of the Ku Klux Klan. “You don’t realise it when you’re a child,” she noted. An incident she recounts, The Quint reports, is when her father was asked to get permission from the local Klan before he could go door-to-door to sell insurance. This inspired her to fight racism and study law. She now holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and labour relations from Cornell University as well as a Doctor of Jurisprudence from New York University.

Gadde had an illustrious career in law

Gadde spent a decade working as an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. During this time, she worked on high stakes cases like the McClatchy Co-Knight Ridder acquisition. She was also the senior director in the legal department of Silicon Valley technology firm Juniper Networks. In 2011, she switched to Twitter – her main responsibilities being dealing with tweets that involved fake news and harassment. Business Insider notes that she was referred to as the platform’s ‘moral authority.’

Washington Post quotes her as saying, “I’m often inspired by the vigorous debates on controversial issues that occur on Twitter, but I’ve also been seriously troubled by the plight of some of our users who are completely overwhelmed by those who are trying to silence healthy discourse in the name of free expression.” She further added, “At times, this takes the form of hateful speech in tweets directed at women or minority groups; at others, it takes the form of threats aimed to intimidate those who take a stand on issues.”

During her time, she led Twitter through some of its most noteworthy political battles. This includes the decision to remove all political advertising and suspend former President Donald Trump’s account in the wake of the Capitol Hill attack, which sparked a wave of hate speech on the platform. “Vijaya is at the crossroads of some of the most important policy decisions the company is making and how it interacts with governments around the world,” Adam Bain, Twitter’s former COO noted.

This move earned her a string of right-wing critics – upper-caste Indians, conservatives, and white Americans in particular. A major controversy involves a ‘Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy’ photograph from 2018. She later apologised for this, insisting that Twitter remains apolitical. Within Twitter and the left-wing circles, however, she continues to have a lot of devoted well wishers.

“If you look up the word ‘inspiring’ in the dictionary you find a picture of @vijaya,” a tweet by Kennedy O’Brien, a public policy associate at Twitter read. “No matter what we do we’ve been accused of bias,” she told Bloomberg News in 2020. “Leaving content up, taking content down — that’s become pretty much background noise.” Currently, she’s a founding partner at a startup named #Angels and a board of director at Mercy Corps. In the latter, she works with creative teams from around the world.

She enjoys travelling and hiking

Gadde is married to Ramsey Homsany, a lawyer and tech executive. The couple has two children and keep their relationship private. In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction, travelling, cooking, and hiking.

Who is Vijaya Gadde? Former legal head leaves Musk-led Twitter with Rs 610 crores

Eshita Srinivas

Eshita is a food, alcohol, travel, and entertainment writer who spends her days thinking of the next big trend to write about. She’s a communication graduate with bylines in Conde Nast Traveller India, GQ India, Deccan Herald, and Girls Buzz. When not at work, you’re likely to find her hunting for a good read or charting out the perfect itinerary for a solo trip across Asia.


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