Slumping revenue, Tesla woes and a ‘resignation’: Musk’s wild reign at Twitter so far | Elon Musk

OWhen Elon Musk walked into Twitter’s offices on October 26 wearing a sink, a day before he bought the platform for $44billion (£38billion), it was the first sign that his ownership story would be unconventional. “Let that sink in!” he tweeted. For everyone swept up in what followed — from thousands of Twitter employees to advertisers and critical journalists — it certainly is now.

Since then, Musk’s reign has proven unpredictable and contentious, with the CEO of Tesla lose the title of richest man in the world In the process. Here are some of the highlights of the past 10 eventful weeks:

Lay off half of the workforce

As soon as Musk took over Twitter, he senior executives dismissed including: CEO, Parag Agrawal; Ned Segal, Chief Financial Officer; and Vijaya Gadde, Head of Legal, Trust and Safety Policy. A few days later he chopped 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees with affected areas, including the communications team, the conservation unit that helped counter misinformation and the human rights team.

Other departures followed a bizarre episode in which Musk set employees a deadline of mid-November commit to working “long hours at high intensity” and being “extremely hardcore” or leave with three months of severance pay. This led to the departure of another 1,200 employees, according to one estimate. Musk now says Twitter has around 2,000 employees. Around the same time, it was reported that Twitter had laid off 4,000 contractors in areas such as content moderation and engineering.

Responding to predictions of Twitter demise in late November, Musk tweeted, “Wasn’t Twitter supposed to die now or something…? However, the platform, which faced warnings of technical issues after laying off so many experts, suffered an outage on December 28 that affected some users.

Musk said the layoffs were necessary because Twitter was losing $4 million a day. That’s a daunting number for a company that needs to make payments of more than $1 billion of the nearly $13 billion in debt currently on its balance sheet, as part of recovery financing. Musk said in December that Twitter was facing a “negative $3 billion-a-year cash position,” but said the company should “roughly” break even after its cash-cutting efforts. costs.

Twitter has botched the relaunch of its premium service, Blue. Photography: NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Alienated Advertisers and Subscription Setbacks

Musk admitted that Twitter suffered a “massive drop in income” after the takeover, which he blamed on campaign groups pressuring advertisers over the future of security and content guidelines under Musk’s leadership. Automaker Audi, pharmaceutical company Pfizer and General Motors were among the brands who halted spending on the platform in the immediate wake of the takeover. This is a significant issue for a company that made 90% of its over $5 billion revenue in 2021 from advertising.

The ad freeze has worsened following a botched relaunch of Twitter’s premium service, Blue, which led to a host of impersonators taking advantage of chances to launch ‘fake’ verified business accounts for just £8. $ per month. Companies affected included pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co and Musk’s own Tesla, resulting in temporary suspension of service.

Work is underway to repair the damage. Twitter is working with the World Federation of Advertisers, which says its members account for 90% of global ad spend, to address advertiser concerns, more Blue was restarted again without a resurgence of the problem of fake accounts.

The new service offers verified status — via a blue tick or tick — for $8 a month or $11 a month on their iPhone. Musk thinks mass verification is the best way to defeat vexatious spam accounts, one of his pet peeves on Twitter. Other benefits promised by the subscription service include an edit button, a 50% reduction in the number of ads in a user’s feed, and the ability to post longer tweets.

Donald Trump's Twitter account
Musk has restored Donald Trump’s Twitter account, among other things. Photography: Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Reinstate Banned Accounts

Musk lifted suspensions on accounts run by Donald Trump, former British-American kickboxer Andrew Tate – who had been banned for extreme misogynistic posts, and was banned on Friday arrested in Romania for human trafficking, rape and formation of an organized criminal group – and Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, among others. The account of American rapper Ye – formerly Kanye West – was also reinstated but then suspended again after tweeting an image of a swastika mixed with a Star of David.

At the same time, Musk announced a new content policy of ‘free speech, but no free access’, saying ‘negative/hateful’ tweets would be ‘deboosted’ and no ads would appear. near them.

The reinstatements were another sign of the inconsistent behavior that would mark Musk’s reign, weeks after he said no decision would be made on reinstatement until a newly announced “content moderation board” took place. not reunited. He blamed the apparent backlash on unnamed “political/social activist groups”, accusing them of persuading advertisers to stay away.

Suspend journalists

In mid-December, Musk contradicted his stance on free speech by freezing the accounts of prominent tech journalists at CNN, The Washington Post, Mashable and The New York Times. He accused them of violating a newly created Twitter guideline that prohibited users from posting “live location information” that would “reveal a person’s location whether or not that information is publicly available.” The directive was created as an apparent justification for suspending @ElonJet, a Twitter account that had long antagonized Musk by posting the location of his private jet via publicly available information.

The journalists were reinstated a few days later, after Musk launched a poll on his own Twitter account that resulted in a majority in favor of lifting the suspensions. But Musk’s targeting of journalists has been condemned by UN, EU and campaign groups.

Also in December, Musk posted internal documents on Twitter to select journalists for a project dubbed the “Twitter Files”. The documents showed the internal process behind the decisions to suspend Donald Trump’s account in 2021 and the platform’s response to the Hunter Biden laptop story. Another excerpt from the records raised questions about Twitter’s relationship with the Pentagon.

Elon Musk during the Chancellor's visit to the Tesla Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg in Grunheide
Tesla shares are down 70% in value to $122 since the start of the year. Photography: Action Press/Shutterstock

Dragging Tesla in

Musk’s status as CEO of Tesla is key to his fortune and made him the richest person on the planet, before losing the title to luxury mogul Bernard Arnault in December. The performance of the electric car maker, in which Musk has a substantial stake, has deteriorated as his interest in Twitter has grown. Musk’s involvement in the platform first emerged in early April with the revelation that he held a significant stake in the companyfollowed weeks later by the deal to buy the business, which he first walked away from – leading to legal action – before returning to complete it two months ago.

In 2022, Tesla shares lost 70% in value to $123. Some of them are specific to Tesla, such as slowing demand and fears over Covid shutdowns at its Chinese factoriesbut Musk’s repeated sales of Tesla stock to fund his purchase on Twitter – although he said in April he had no longer planned – as well as concerns that he is too focused on the platform of social media also rattled investors.

“Musk has lost his credibility with the broader investment community as the broken promises (selling stocks again and again and again….), the Twitter fiasco, the opening of the Twitter political storm, and the Brand deterioration for Musk and Tesla led to a complete debacle. for the stock,” said Dan Ives, managing director of financial services firm Wedbush Securities.

A majority of Twitter users voted for Musk to step down as CEO
A majority of Twitter users voted for Musk to step down as chief executive. Photography: Andre M Chang/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“Resign” as boss

Musk announced on December 20 that he would step down as CEO of Twitter “As soon as I find someone dumb enough to take the job!” His announcement follows a poll on his Twitter account in which users voted decisively in favor of his resignation. The engagement also followed testimony in court in November in which he said he expected to “reduce my time on Twitter” after an “initial burst of activity”. Whoever takes the job will lead a globally influential social media platform with over 250 million daily users. But with a very demanding and impulsive owner.

“One of the first things I said after the acquisition closed was like ‘we’re going to make a bunch of mistakes, but then we’ll try to recover from them quickly,’ and that’s what we did,” Musk said. the All-In podcast, released days after he announced his resignation. But for the Tesla CEO, the biggest mistake — with a lesser chance of full recovery — might have been to buy Twitter in the first place.

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