The first round of layoffs, led by his lawyer Alex Spiro, will target 25% of the workforce.
SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk’s close associates met up with Twitter’s senior designers throughout the past weekend and conducted in-depth discussions about the site’s approach to content moderation, which also includes plans for layoffs.
A well-known celebrity lawyer, Alex Spiro, has been helping Elon Musk for several years. According to sources from within the company, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, Spiro is taking an active role in managing several teams including legal, government relations and marketing.
Long-time associates of Elon Musk, David Sacks and Jason Calacanis have been seen in an official company directory. They both worked as software engineers for the company. Musk’s title in the directory was CEO and he refers to himself as Chief Twit.
At the same time, the team was discussing their plans to lay off up to 7,000 of their staff members from a total number of 27,000. Layoffs are going to impact every department, & we’re expecting sales, product, engineering, legal and trust & safety departments to be affected the most. According to recently released documents, Twitter’s engineers are the company’s highest paid employees. The next highest-paid workers at Twitter are those in sales, with several of them earning more than $300,000 per year.
Twitter, Musk, Spiro, Sacks and Calacanis did not respond to a request for comment.
Elon Musk recently bought Twitter for $44 billion after several round of negotiations. Musk first made a bid for the company, then opted not to continue with his acquisition in the fall. The entrepreneur decided to buy Twitter after they sued him, so he offered his original offer price.
Musk has turned to several long time allies as he begins his overhaul of Twitter.
Sacks is a conservative firebrand and long time supporter of Musk who has co-founded companies like PayPal with him. Sacks shares some of Elon’s views on content moderation and has been vocal in his criticism of censorship by Big Tech
Calacanis is a long time friend of Musk who was texting him frequently, giving him advice on the deal, including about potential job cuts. Court records show this.
One of Calacanis’ tweets yesterday said Saturday was “Day Zero” and that he had discussed safety issues, bots and trolls with Yoel Roth, vice president of content policy at Twitter threatening to cut off the company’s feed.
On Sunday, Musk posted a series of messages from Roth to Twitter’s board and legal team, but we don’t know the context. They appear to show the board and lawyers deliberately hiding evidence from the court.
After the new leadership team came into place, they asked many questions. They wanted to know details about what kind of content was being moderated, spammy content and the risks when it comes to upcoming elections.
Another one of Musk’s associates who tweeted about his involvement, Sriram Krishnan, a partner focusing on cryptocurrency at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also tweeted that he was helping out with the deal. The firm invested $400 million
Less than 3 days into Elon Musk’s ownership, not many people know about any changes for Twitter. However, according to a few employees who have been contacted by The Washington Post, few details have been released thus far. The company has been silent about this acquisition. This can lead to some scary rumours, like layoffs, which have actually been going around.
Unnamed sources have ventured the claim that Twitter will begin to lay off employees in one week. However, Elon Musk recently tweeted that such reports are false.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Musk plans to cut Twitter’s workforce by 74%. With 2,000 employees left, the company would still be able to function. Elon Musk has announced he does not want to cut 3/4th of Twitter’s workforce.
Another person familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity recently said the number of planned layoffs is likely going to be higher than 50%.
Already, Musk has fired four senior executives, sent Tesla engineers to evaluate Twitter’s software code and has declared that he plans to form a content moderation council of experts.
One example of this new challenge is when Elon Musk tweeted out a link to a site known for publishing misinformation from the DM.
On Saturday Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and 2016 presidential nominee of the Democratic party, published a tweet focusing on the GOP’s love of spreading “hateful conspiracy theories” she said emboldened the man who attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, in their San Francisco home early Friday.
In reply to the tweet, Musk wrote “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” linking to an article on Santa Monica Observer, which fact-checkers have described as a very low-credibility news source. The article makes unsubstantiated claims without evidence that Paul Pelosi was drunk and in a fight with a male prostitute while referencing an irrelevant conspiracy theory that had been spread by right-wing bloggers. Other prominent influencer marketers who have interacted with Musk online also shared independent thoughts on the subject, not reflecting the opinions of those bloggers.
Elon Musk has since deleted the tweet, but his actions show that Twitter has a difficult path ahead in dealing with his public behaviour. It remains to be seen how the company handles what he says privately.