Elon Musk plans Twitter layoffs with new team
Musk’s longtime associates David Sacks and Jason Calcanis appeared in a company directory over the weekend, according to photos obtained by the Washington Post. Both had official company emails and their titles were “Staff Software Engineer”. Musk’s title on the directory was CEO, although that position has not been publicly disclosed. He describes himself as “Chief Twit”.
Meanwhile, the team decided on what is expected to be a first round of layoffs, which one of the people said will affect about a quarter of the more than 7,000 employees. Layoffs will affect almost all departments and are expected to impact sales, product, engineering, legal, and trust and safety in particular in the coming days, the person said. After the engineers, some of Twitter’s highest-paid employees work in sales, where several make more than $300,000, according to documents seen by The Post.
Twitter, Musk, Spiro, Sacks and Calcanis did not respond to requests for comment.
The billionaire Tesla owner bought Twitter for $44 billion last week after several grueling months of negotiations and litigation. Musk initially made an offer for the company in the spring and tried to back out months later. Twitter sued to force him to complete the deal, and eventually the entrepreneur relented and offered to buy the company at its original asking price.
Musk has turned to several longtime allies as he begins his Twitter overhaul.
Sacks, a conservative arsonist and donor, has worked with Musk since they jointly ran PayPal two decades ago. Sacks posted strong ideas on the moderation of content on the Internet and has criticized Big Tech’s censorship.
Calcanis is also a longtime friend of Musk, who frequently texted him to offer advice on the deal, including job cuts, court filings showed.
Calacanis tweeted This Saturday, “Day Zero” was next to a photo of a Twitter coffee mug, adding that he discussed security issues along with bots and trolls with Yoel Roth, a Twitter executive responsible for the content moderation policy . Roth then released details of those policies.
On Sunday, Musk apparently released internal messages from Roth via Twitter metrics, arguing that they show Twitter’s board of directors and attorneys “willfully … hid evidence in court.” The tweet showed Musk using his newfound access to internal information to potentially settle scores.
I met Yoel from Twitter Safety today and as a longtime Twitter user I was impressed by his dedication and perspective on safety issues.
I asked him to unpack the problem directly for the users. This thread is worth your time and reinforcement. https://t.co/ocoBjflOqM
The new leadership team is asking questions about all aspects of the deal, including details on content moderation, spam and the risks of upcoming elections, the people said.
Another Musk associate who tweeted about his involvement, Sriram Krishnan, a cryptocurrency-focused partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also tweeted that he helped facilitate the deal. The company invested $400 million.
After less than three days in Musk’s possession, Twitter employees remained in the dark about new plans for the company as of Sunday night, according to scores of employees contacted by The Post, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs. The company has not yet issued a formal announcement of the acquisition. The communications department fell silent. Rumors of layoffs have been swirled and some announcements have been tacitly released.
The layoffs are expected to begin before November 1, when Twitter employees are set to receive additional compensation related to stock awards. On Sunday, Musk tweeted that next week’s coverage of upcoming layoffs on Twitter was “incorrect.”
Earlier this year, Musk told potential partners in the deal that he plans to shed nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s total workforce, which would leave the company with about 2,000 employees, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Post. Last week, Musk told employees during a visit to Twitter headquarters that he has no plans to cut three-quarters of the workforce.
Another person familiar with the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity last week to discuss sensitive matters, said the total layoffs are likely closer to 50 percent.
Musk has already fired four senior executives, sent Tesla engineers to evaluate Twitter’s software code, and tweeted that he plans to form an expert council on content moderation.
Meanwhile, Musk clarifies the difficulties of his new job content tweeted from a website known to be posting misinformation this weekend.
On Saturday, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, posted a tweet Criticism of the GOP for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories,” which it said encouraged the man who killed the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul, at the couple’s home in San Francisco had attacked.
Musk wrote in a reply to the tweet that “there’s a tiny possibility there’s more to this story than meets the eye,” and shared a link to an article on the Santa Monica Observer website described labeled by fact-checkers as an unlikely source in favor of the far right. The article alleges without evidence that Paul Pelosi was drunk and had a fight with a male prostitute, referencing a conspiracy theory previously floated by the right. Other right-wing influencers Musk has interacted with online also reinforced the conspiratorial narrative.
The actions of Musk, who has since removed the tweet, show that Twitter has a complicated road ahead, particularly in controlling Musk’s public actions and balancing what he says in private.
Rachel Lerman contributed to this report.
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