In the email, which was accessed by the Washington Post, the entrepreneur explains that Twitter needs everyone to work hard and for long hours. Anyone who doesn’t want to make that effort will be allowed to leave with three months salary as severance.
“Only those who achieve excellent results will get my approval,” we read in the e-mail. It’s a threat, but also a statement of intent. Musk wants a compact, excellent team dominated by engineers and programmers. He wants the company to operate in an agile way, without bureaucratic processes slowing down innovation.
He needs to cut Twitter’s costs. The industry is in the midst of a winter due to the global economic situation and the stock market crash of major technology companies, which have reached exorbitant heights in stock market valuation due to their short-lived performance during the pandemic.
In a matter of days, Elon Musk has shaken every corner of Twitter.
It’s not the dotcomsbut the industry as a whole has entered a period of unusual austerity. Meta has laid off more than 11,000 employees; Amazon is targeting 10,000 employees. Companies like Snap, Robinhood and Netflix have also made significant job cuts. Money is tight, and rising interest rates have increased the cost of taking risks or not achieving goals.
Musk sifts through Twitter’s workforce from top to bottom. And he’s doing it directly or indirectly because, in addition to the more than 3,000 layoffs, several employees or executives have resigned. Some don’t share the same vision as the entrepreneur, others prefer to work remotely or simply don’t want to sacrifice their family life for Musk’s plan.
Others are fired on Musk’s direct orders. He doesn’t like to be criticized in public (though it’s his favorite thing to do on Twitter). On Sunday, he said that engineer Eric Frohnhoefer had been fired. The reason? For saying Musk didn’t know what he was talking about.
My twitter account was protected at the time, so I can only assume this was for not showing 100% loyalty in slack. I’ve heard the same thing has happened to many others now.
– Nick Morgan (parody) (@skilldrick) November 15, 2022
Slack channels, an internal chat used within Twitter, are also monitored for employees who disagree with Musk’s policies. He wants to keep cutting employees until he has a team that is totally loyal and willing to sacrifice everything to meet the deadlines he wants. That’s how Tesla and SpaceX have worked, but it’s a radically different work environment than what has been adopted over the past decade in Silicon Valley: pool tables, paid cafeterias, massages, remote work…
A radical change in Twitter’s corporate culture
And in the midst of this profound internal reform, Musk continues to tweet in real time all his ideas for improving the social network while the team simultaneously tackles many changes and improvements. The Blue service had to be canceled due to the phishing problem, and will be relaunched on November 29. A messaging redesign is underway, which, as seen in the web code, will offer peer-to-peer encryption. Musk said the goal is to turn Twitter messaging into a better service than WhatsApp.
Since his arrival, Twitter has been in chaos on several fronts: development, advertisers, media coverage, staff restructuring… But Musk is comfortable with the rope. The problem is, not everyone is, which is why he needs to issue this ultimatum and fire everyone who disagrees or whose performance is not “excellent“.
Although few share its methods, Tesla and SpaceX have had talented engineers and top-level executives from the beginning. However, Twitter may be even more complex than getting cars to drive themselves at a company that, as its own boss says, “can go bankrupt” or become “the application for everything“.