Elon Musk addressed Twitter staff on Thursday, and touched upon potential layoffs, alien life, remote working, and free speech
Elon Musk had revealed in April his intention to purchase Twitter for $44bn, but since that time he has been publicly critical of the platform, and has threatened to put the deal on hold over concerns about bots, or fake accounts.
Matters have not been helped after the departures of some high level executives at Twitter.
Last month it emerged that CEO Agrawal had dismissed two senior executives, namely Kayvon Beykpour, who used to led Twitter’s consumer division; and Bruce Falck, who oversaw revenue.
Both men confirmed their departures were not their decision.
A week later three more executives departed from Twitter, including Ilya Brown, VP of product management; Katrina Lane, VP of Twitter Service; and Max Schmeiser, head of data science.
And the platform had already implemented a hiring freeze for the past couple of months, except for business critical roles.
Before the meeting took place on Thursday, staff submitted questions, with the highest ranking categories reportedly being workplace policies (i.e. remote working); content moderation and free speech.
So what did Musk actually say?
Well according to CNBC, during the meeting Musk made clear his ambitions for Twitter, saying he hoped the platform would be used by 1 billion people globally on a daily basis.
That would entail a huge jump in user numbers, as Twitter in its Q1 2022 earnings revealed it had 229 million monthly daily active users.
Musk also reportedly said he doesn’t care about being CEO at Twitter, but cares about driving the product in a particular direction.
There is widespread concern, both within Twitter and by outside observers, that Musk (who is already CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX), simply will not have enough time to dedicate to Twitter.
Musk also addressed the issue of free speech and content moderation on the platform, saying that users should be allowed to say what they want on Twitter.
Musk however seemed to qualify this, and said that people being free to say what they want on Twitter, is different from Twitter promoting that speech.
Users have the right to filter out content they don’t want to see, he reportedly added. Musk said the standard is much more than not offending people, it’s that they are entertained and informed.
Musk reiterated a sentiment he made online earlier that if 10 percent of the far left and far right are upset, Twitter is doing the right thing.
It is perhaps no surprise that Musk is not in favour of remote or flexible working, after he recently issued a series of no nonsense emails to all Tesla workers, telling them to return to the office full time or resign.
But Musk did seem to draw a distinction between working remotely at the car company and at Twitter, CNBC reported.
“Tesla makes cars, and you can’t make cars remotely,” Musk said, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Musk did not detail what his policy on remote would look like for Twitter employees and said if someone is exceptional at their job, remote work is fine, according to the source.
But, Musk said his “bias is strongly towards working in person.”
Musk also failed to reassure nervous staff about possible layoffs at the firm, saying any potential restructuring will depend on its financial health.
“It depends. The company does need to get healthy,” Musk said, according to the source. “Right now the costs exceed the revenue”
Musk also reportedly said there has to be some rationalisation of headcount or else Twitter won’t be able to grow.
“Anyone who is a signification contributor has nothing to worry about,” he said.
Musk also touched upon the possibility of alien life, saying he hasn’t seen actual evidence of aliens.
The CNBC source reportedly said that after meeting concluded, the majority of the reactions on Twitter’s Slack messaging board were negative in nature.
Employees expressed that many of their worries about layoffs, remote work, a reduced focus on content moderation and inclusion and diversity measures were confirmed.
Employees also sent memes about how to brand themselves as exceptional, according to the source, an apparent reference to Musk’s note that exceptional employees could likely continue to work remotely and would not have to fear layoffs.