Elon Musk led a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and appointed himself CEO there at the end of October. It has since enlisted high-ranking executives and engineers from its other companies, including SpaceX, You’re here and The Boring Company, to help the social media company, according to internal records obtained by CNBC and conversations with recent Twitter employees.
Musk has also allowed partners at investment firms that participated in the Twitter buyout to work at the social media company.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many hours each person had worked on Twitter so far, or how much of their work could be done remotely from Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters or other offices.
Shareholders remain concerned about the impact Musk’s financial commitments, split schedule and controversial Twitter decisions could have on the automaker. Tesla shares are down about 25% since it took over Twitter on Oct. 27.
Internal records obtained by CNBC indicated that more than 50 Tesla employees, mostly Autopilot software engineers, were cleared to work for Musk at Twitter immediately after he took office, and were still cleared to work there in early December. Among the names are people previously reported by CNBCas good as:
- Director of Software Engineering Silvio Brugada
- Director of Infrastructure Engineering and Information Security Rajasekar Jegannathan
- Senior Director of DevOps Michael Outland
- Director of Battery Manufacturing Engineering Andrew Ross
- Chief Information Officer Nagesh Saldi
- Autopilot project manager RJ Sekator
Lawyers questioned Elon Musk in a Delaware court in November about his use of Tesla talent on Twitter. The trial and the trial is to determine whether Tesla’s board followed the law when it awarded Musk a huge CEO pay in 2018.
The lawyers asked, “Has anyone suggested to you that as a public company it might not be a good idea to use public company resources for your private company? “
In his testimony, Musk called Tesla employees’ work for him on Twitter “just a voluntary thing.” He also said, “It was sort of an afternoon, just if you’re interested in evaluating the — helping me evaluate the engineering of Twitter, that would be nice. It was very short term. I think it lasted a few days and it was over.”
Musk also said, “I didn’t really consider this a use of Tesla assets, because I only asked on a voluntary basis, and I didn’t specify a number of people. I don’t know what was the number, but I don’t think it was quite 50. But it was a small number. There are 120,000 people in the company, just to be clear, so it’s de minimis.
A Tesla employee told CNBC that most employees at the electric vehicle company would be honored if asked to work overtime at other Musk companies. However, they said most would also think it was impossible to refuse a direct request from Musk without facing poor performance reviews or other consequences later. This person declined to be named because he was not authorized by the company to speak to the press.
In addition to Tesla employees, Musk has also recruited executives and employees of SpaceX, the reusable rocket and satellite internet services company he founded in 2002, to help him out on Twitter. SpaceX is a major US defense contractor whose revenue comes from contracts with NASA and the US Air Force, among others.
More than a dozen SpaceX employees were authorized to work at Twitter in early December, including:
- Vice President of Human Resources Brian Bjelde
- Chief Financial Officer and Head of Strategic Acquisitions Bret Johnsen
- CIO Joshua Ursenbach
At least three of Musk’s top executives from his tunneling company, The Boring Company, are also cleared to work for him on Twitter starting in early December. They are:
- President Steve Davis
- Director of Electrical and Software Engineering Riccardo Biasini
- Head of Operations Jehn Balajadia
In addition to employees at his other companies, Musk has enlisted longtime friends and investors who have a stake in “Twitter 2.0” under his leadership. Some of these people authorized to work in the company at the beginning of December include:
- Angel investor Jason Calacanis
- Randy Glein, Growth Partner and DFJ Founder
- Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Sriram Krishnan (who is a former Twitter employee)
- Samuel Pullara, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures
- David Sacks, partner and co-founder of Craft Ventures
- Five people from Valor Equity Partners, including the company’s founder, Antonio Gracias, and Elon Musk’s former chief of staff at Tesla and SpaceX, Sam Teller, who is now a venture capital partner at Valor.
A current Twitter employee told CNBC that Musk has “flattened” the company’s organizational structure since early November, so many managers have more than 20 direct reports each. Most had more than 10 before Tesla’s CEO took over, leaving time for mentorship.
Now it’s also harder for employees to track who’s working on which projects within Twitter, as Musk’s team eliminated a tool called Birdhouse that was previously used as an internal directory and organizational guide.
Spokespersons for Twitter and other Musk companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.