Thursday, June 20, 2024

Elon Musk Tells Twitter Employees Their Lives Could Get Even Worse

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Elon Musk made his first contact with Twitter employees late Wednesday night, two weeks after closing the $44 billion dollar deal to buy the platform. In his short time as CEO, Musk has already enacted mass layoffs and immense pressure to create new products and sources of revenue.  

His emails, the New York Times reports, describe a grim financial future for the company and reinforce a need to shift workplace strategies. This means an end to the remote work policy, a renewed dedication to increasing financial revenue, and an end to spam.

“The economic picture ahead is dire”, Musk wrote in one email. This comes one week after he fired almost half of Twitter’s 7500 employees. The layoffs hit divisions across the company—with engineering and machine learning units, content moderation, and sales and advertising departments all taking a significant blow. 

Musk said there was “no way to sugarcoat the message,” regarding the economic future of the advertising-dependent platform. For the few employees remaining in the Twitter workforce, remote work will be banned unless personally approved by Musk and they will be expected to be in the office for at least 40 hours a week. “The road ahead is arduous and will require intense work to succeed,” Musk said in his email. 

At the same time as firing his workforce, Elon has continued revamping the platform to increase capital. According to the Times, the email described Twitter as being vulnerable to pullbacks in brand spending due to its dependency on advertising and calls for a resurgence of revenue through user subscriptions. Currently, the company earns around 90 percent of its revenue from advertisers, a number of which pulled out after Musk’s acquisition of the company.

In one email, Musk stated that subscriptions should eventually account for half of the company’s total revenue if Twitter wants to “survive the upcoming economic downturn”.

Elon has announced changes to the subscription service called Twitter Blue which now charges users $8 a month to receive a verification check mark. He has also proposed adding “paid direct messaging” which will allow consumers to connect with high-profile users. In addition to adding subscriptions and sources of revenue, he said the top priority over the next few days was “finding and suspending verified bots/trolls/spam.”

Musk’s rapid product development has forced many engineers to “self-certify” that their projects meet privacy requirements enforced as part of the 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Previously, Twitter would review products before release to avoid additional fines from the FTC. 

“This will put a huge amount of personal, professional, and legal risk onto engineers: I anticipate that all of you will be pressured by management into pushing out changes that will likely lead to major incidents,” one employee wrote in a letter seen by the Times.

“Elon has shown that he only cares about recouping the losses he’s incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter,” the employee contends. 

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