Elon Musk drew more than 50 Tesla employees on Twitter

Elon Musk drew more than 50 Tesla employees on Twitter

The Twitter profile page belonging to Elon Musk is viewed on an Apple iPhone mobile phone.

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | Getty Images

New Twitter owner Elon Musk he drew more than 50 of his trusts Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, in its Twitter account, CNBC has learned.

Musk, who is CEO of automaker Tesla and maker of reusable rockets SpaceX, completed the $44 billion purchase of Twitter on October 28 and made his mark immediately. He immediately fired the company’s CEO, chief financial officer, policy chiefs and legal team, and also dissolved Twitter’s board of directors.

According to internal records seen by CNBC, employees of Musk’s other companies are now authorized to work on Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from the Boring Company (which is building underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (that a brain is developed). – computer interface).

Some of Musk’s friends, advisers and supporters, including the head of his family office Jared Birchall, angel investor Jason Calacanis, and PayPal chief operating officer and venture capitalist David Sacks, are also involved. So are two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, who worked at Palantir and Neuralink, respectively.

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Among the dozens that Elon Musk specifically commissioned from Tesla are: director of software development Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot and TeslaBot engineering Milan Kovac, senior director of software engineering Maha Virduhagiri; Pete Scheutzow, a senior staff technical program manager, and Jake Nocon, who is part of Tesla’s surveillance unit, as a senior manager of security intelligence.

Nocon worked before Uber and Nisos, a security company that had a multimillion dollar contract with Tesla to identify insider threats, and monitor critics of the company.

On Twitter, Musk relies on his lieutenants and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep in the social network.

It’s also pressing to learn everything they can about Twitter as quickly as possible, from source code to content moderation and data privacy requirements, so they can redesign the platform, several Twitter employees told CNBC during the weekend.

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Musk has accused himself of being a free-speech absolutist, but he has to balance those desires with laws and business realities. He said in an open letter to advertisers last week as he took over the company: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell, where anything can be said without consequence.”

It was not immediately clear how Tesla employees are expected to split their schedules between the automaker and Twitter.

Typically, when Tesla employees work for Elon Musk’s other companies, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they may be paid by the other company as a consultant. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time roles in more than one of his companies. For example, Tesla Vice President of Materials Charlie Kuehmann, is simultaneously a vice president at SpaceX.

At other times, two Tesla employees told CNBC, the electric car maker’s workers are pressured to help with their other companies’ projects without additional pay because it’s considered good for their careers, or because the work is considered to help with a related party. transaction or project.

Tesla is facing serious scrutiny around the technology built and maintained by its Autopilot team, namely its driver assistance systems, which are marketed as Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are investigating whether Tesla or Musk violated laws and misled consumers about Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are still in development and do not make the cars of the auto-auto company. drive

Meanwhile, the federal vehicle safety authority, NHTSA, continues to investigate whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems may have contained defects that contributed to or caused collisions. The way Tesla marketed these systems on social media, including Twitter, is part of the scope of at least one NHTSA investigation.

Code reviews and 12 hour shifts

Several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla employees now on Twitter have been involved in code reviews on the social network, even though their skills working on Autopilot and other software and hardware Tesla does not overlap directly with the languages ​​and systems used to build and maintain the social network. These employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the press about internal matters, and they fear retaliation.

For example, most engineers in automotive companies, even the technologically advanced Tesla, have no experience in designing and operating search engines and platforms that are widely accessible to the public.

Twitter has multiple code bases with millions of lines of code in each, and a myriad of 10 or even 100-query-per-second (QPS) systems that they support. At Tesla, Python is one of the preferred scripting languages, and at Twitter the programmers used Scala a lot.

Twitter also has more exposure to international regulations around hate speech and data privacy, for example, in particular the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Twitter employees who were there before Musk took control said that they were asked to show their teams all kinds of technical documentation, to justify their work and the work of their teams, and to explain their value in the company. The threat of dismissal looms if he doesn’t impress, they said.

Employees said they are worried about being fired without cause or notice, rather than fired with severance. Some are worried that they will not be able to recover the fruits of the stock options that are expected to vest in the first week of November, according to the documentation seen by CNBC.

Meanwhile, Twitter employees said that they have not received specific plans from Musk and his team, and are largely in the dark about possible cuts in the number of leaders in their groups, their budgets and and long-term strategies.

Musk has set almost impossible deadlines for some to list items, however.

An immediate project is to redesign the company’s subscription software, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (sometimes known as “blue checks” because of the way they are denoted on the service). Employees say Musk wants the work done by the first week of November. The Verge reported first that Musk wants to charge $20 per user per month, and only give verification marks to the accounts of users who are paid subscribers, and remove verification from accounts that do not pay for Twitter Blue.

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Twitter executives ordered some employees to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, to meet Musk’s aggressive deadlines, according to internal communications. The sprint orders came without any discussion about the payment of overtime or compensatory time, or job security. The end of the task at the beginning of November is seen as a matter of make or break for his career on Twitter.

In an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, many Twitter employees have stopped communicating with each other on internal systems about work problems. In addition, some of Twitter’s Slack channels are almost silent, several employees told CNBC.

Meanwhile, Musk and his inner circle have been projecting messages archived in the systems, apparently looking for people to fire and budgets or projects to slash.

On Sunday night, in a show of his unlimited access to inside information in the company, CEO Elon Musk (who calls himself “Chief Twit” but is officially CEO and sole director) posted a screenshot to his 112 million followers listed on Twitter.

The screenshot represents the comments made by the head of security and integrity of Twitter, Yoel Roth, in May 2022. At the time, Musk was trying to get out of his agreement to buy Twitter for $ 54.20 per share.

In court, and in public, Musk had accused Twitter of falsifying metrics, in particular of playing up the amount of spam, fake accounts and malicious bots that exist on the platform.

In the internal message that Musk made public, Roth wrote disparagingly of a person involved in the business named Amir, and also remarked that if Amir continued to “BS” him or others about the objectives and the key results, Twitter would “literally do what Elon accuses us of doing”.

Moss accused in a tweet that, “Wachtell & Twitter board deliberately hid this evidence from the court.” He also appeared to threaten further legal action, writing: “Stay tuned, more to come…”

Representatives for Twitter, Tesla and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz declined to respond to requests for comment.

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