- Musk left employees confused and unsure of their fate or that of the company.
- Workers have been met with “absolute silence” on the billionaire’s first day leading Twitter.
- His personal lawyer Alex Spiro is among those brought in to assist in his takeover of operations.
During Musk’s first full day owning and leading Twitter, confusion reigned. With no communication from Musk or anyone else in a leadership position, employees were left to try and piece together what was going on. Questions and speculation flew all day. Were people already being laid off? When was the all-hands meeting that had been promised all week? Why were Tesla engineers brought in? Why are meetings constantly being moved? Why are people being asked to print out code? Why hasn’t Musk said anything?
At one point in the morning, 2 people emerged from Twitter’s San Francisco HQ building, holding boxes full of office gear and pretending to be engineers who’d been laid off by Musk.
It was a far cry from earlier in the week. On Wednesday. Musk entered Twitter’s San Francisco HQ carrying a bathroom sink, a joke about his ownership “sinking in.” He then held an impromptu chat with workers in the company’s cafe, The Perch, talking for an hour.
Cuts to the workforce are all but guaranteed, and Musk has said since June he will do layoffs to improve the financial health of the company. Several workers have told Insider they intend to quit after November 1, because that is the next time Twitter equity awards vest. Now Twitter is private, restricted stock previously given to employees will convert to cash. The concern among some workers is that Musk might enact a mass layoff before that that vesting date to avoid paying out.
“It’s scary because he’s so unpredictable,” one employee said.
After officially closing the deal Thursday evening and quickly firing Twitter’s top executives, silence fell, several employees told Insider. They asked not to be identified discussing private company matters. All through Friday, employees heard nothing from their new boss.
“Tumbleweeds,” one person said. At Twitter offices in London, New York and San Francisco, people spent much of the day speculating about layoffs on Slack and “refreshing our phones,” waiting for an email or a calendar invite to appear, this person added. Nothing yet. “It’s just silent,” another staffer said.
Product and engineering teams were told by managers late Thursday to prepare for Friday meetings with Musk, and were advised to “bring code.” Those meetings were constantly moved or canceled throughout Friday, the people said.
Meanwhile, engineers from Tesla were in Twitter’s San Francisco office, some meeting individually with Twitter engineers, asking them about their work and some technical aspects of the platform. On Friday, some Twitter engineers were asked to “literally print out code,” so it could be looked at elsewhere by Musk, a person familiar with the situation said. Later, they were asked to throw away what they had printed out. This was in addition to meetings with Musk being scheduled then cancelled or moved throughout the day. Tech newsletter writer Casey Newton reported on the request to discard the printouts.
‘They even have their own food’
Musk worked on Friday at Twitter’s San Francisco HQ with a small team he brought in to assist him in taking over the operations, people familiar with the matter said. Several people from from his family office, Excession, were there to help, the people said.
Musk’s personal lawyer, Alex Spiro of Quin Emmanuel, was on hand, effectively splitting the workload with Musk, one of the people said. Musk handled the product and engineering side of the business, while Spiro took on legal, compliance and content moderation work. While Spiro’s role is not formal, one person close to the deal described him as the “de facto” head of legal for Twitter right now.
Musk and his personal team worked in a separate part of Twitter’s HQ, taking up an entire floor that was previously not used, one of the people said. “They even have their own food,” this person added, letting Musk’s team avoid the large cafeteria used by employees.
Musk tweeted several times on Friday. In one, he said he was “looking into” claims of shadow-banning, when a user is not banned but their posts are hidden from view by others. In another, he wrote “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.”
Later in the day, he said “comedy is now legal on Twitter” and then separately tweeted an apparent joke about the two men who faked being laid off Twitter engineers.
Are you a Twitter employee or someone else with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at email@example.com, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.