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Hellscape or not, Twitter will be something different under Elon Musk


Elon Musk has adjusted much of Twitter’s leadership team, including its chief executive, and plans to become CEO himself in the immediate term, according to people familiar with the matter. Public shareholders are cashing out and transferring ownership to a host of investors, in addition to Musk, including Oracle Corp’s Larry Ellison. and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. The company will stop reporting its financials — unless Musk wants to. He’s expected to make serious job cuts, especially for roles outside of product and engineering.

Above all, Tesla Director Inc. will bring a range of different values ​​to the social network. Twitter has spent the past few years focusing on reducing its cyberbullying and abuse; Musk says he wants to relax content restrictions and reverse the account bans. Twitter is funded largely by advertising; Musk has told advisors to build a more robust subscription product. Twitter has worked to improve transparency and communication with its users; Musk tends to do much of the outbound communication for his companies on his own — through tweets.

Twitter has long risen above its weight culturally, as the network favored by the world’s top politicians, celebrities and media. That’s what Musk makes better than most: his experience, streaming to his 111 million followers for instant support for his personal and business goals, demonstrates value. of the means he has.

However, Twitter has always been an underdog among peer-to-peer social media, a fraction of the size of Meta Platforms Inc., TikTok or YouTube. Some employees say they avoid working for higher-paying giants because of an obligation to improve what they see as the world’s most important engine of politics, news and entertainment. One former employee explained: “Twitter is an indie rock punk band and Facebook is a place to sell pop radio.

Now, Twitter is controlled by the richest man in the world – a man who has been the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, and is the founder of Boring Co., Neuralink and OpenAI. Musk’s geopolitical and business interests probably adorn his approach to work on Twitter. And current employees are prepared for what that could mean.

For years, Twitter has tried to shake up its reputation as a service that turns a blind eye to abuse and harassment. In recent years, the platform has often been criticized as “malicious” or “cesspool”. Work is considered essential from a business standpoint: No one wants to spend their time on a network that makes them feel bad.

Musk believes Twitter has gone too far and says he’s concerned about the service’s lack of “free speech.” In a question and answer session with Twitter staff in June, he said the company should let people tweet “pretty outrageous” things, and that he plans to reverse former President Donald’s permanent ban. Trump, enacted as a punishment for inciting violence in January 2021. Musk wants Twitter to allow all speech protected by the First Amendment in the US.

It’s a stance that has been lauded by conservative politicians, but one that also promises to create other problems. While some users will return to Twitter after they feel they might tweet “outrageous” things, others will inevitably leave for the same reasons.

Plus, there are all the business conflicts Musk has to consider, as Tesla sells cars in countries where leaders may want to silence certain tweets and take into account product rivals. major automobile manufacturer among its advertisers.

Alex Stamos, who previously ran security at Meta and now works at the Stanford Internet Observatory, said Musk made a “big mistake.” maintaining great personal exposure to challenging countries,” Stamos tweeted.

It’s currently unclear where Musk plans to draw the line of content. On Thursday, he wrote an open letter to advertisers, saying he’s buying Twitter “because it’s important to the future of civilization to have a common town square” with Opinions are on both the left and the right, but it can’t become “a free hell for all” where anything can be said without consequences, he said. People can choose, he said. the kind of experience they have on Twitter, like which video games they choose to play.

On Friday, Musk said he had no plans to reinstate anyone’s accounts prior to first forming and consulting with “a content moderation board with diverse views.”

Rohit Kulkarni, a financial analyst at MKM Partners, said he expects Musk’s business impact on Twitter to be positive, predicting a $100 billion IPO next year. 2026. But some advertisers remain skeptical. General Motors Co. said it is temporarily suspending advertising on Twitter until it has a better understanding of what will happen to Musk once he takes the helm.

Staff visibility is also not clear. Musk’s thinking can change many times over. After all, he spent months in court claiming the company’s user numbers were fraudulent and trying to get out of his original deal. He recently tried to reserve his right to sue Twitter’s departed executives and board. He now says he owns Twitter “to try to help humanity.”

Employees are also unsure which teams or jobs will be cut. Musk seems prepared to downsize Twitter and focus on the core product. “Software engineering, server operations & design will rule the times,” he tweeted in early October. Several employees have been invited to next Wednesday’s staff meeting; some don’t, according to people familiar with the matter. That creates doubt around which team will be cut.

Some employees may choose to quit simply for lifestyle reasons. Twitter allows people to work from anywhere, whenever they want; Musk said that only “special” people are granted the privilege of working from home.

So far, he hasn’t shown much confidence in Twitter’s employees. He’s asking Twitter’s engineers to print out 30 days of their most recent submissions of codes, then bring them in for review by Musk and his trusted colleagues from Tesla, according to a person familiar with the matter. this topic.

The folks at Twitter, who have endured drama before, like a controversial activist investor and Trump’s ban, love to joke that their tenure should be counted in dog years, with a year at Twitter equaling seven years at a “normal” company. constantly bogged down in chaos. That affection, at least, can last.

–With support from Ed Ludlow.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

This story has been published from the electronic agency’s feed with no modifications to the text.

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