PARIS: Since buying Twitter last month, Elon Musk has made radical, chaotic changes at the social media company, including firing half the staff and imposing what he calls a “hardcore” work culture.
AFP looks back at a tumultuous few weeks for the Silicon Valley giant.
Musk, the world’s richest man and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, buys Twitter in late October for $44 billion after months of on-off negotiations.
“Let the good times roll,” he tweets after the deal is sealed on October 28.
In one of his first moves, the self-declared free speech absolutist announces he will form a “content moderation council” to make decisions in what is a nod to concerns that Twitter could become a free-for-all platform for disinformation and hate speech.
Musk tweets an anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory on October 30 about an attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was bludgeoned by a hammer-wielding intruder at his home.
Hours later he deletes the post.
The next day Musk finalises his purchase, becoming the sole director of the company and dissolving its corporate board.
On November 1, Musk announces the site will charge $8 per month to verify users’ accounts in a bid to solve issues with bots and trolls.
Brands step back
Top global companies, including General Mills and Volkswagen, suspend their advertising on Twitter on November 3 as they monitor the new direction the company will take.
On November 4, half of Twitter’s 7,500-strong staff are made redundant, sending shockwaves through Silicon Valley.
The cull hits the marketing department hard, takes two-thirds of the design department, and maybe 75 percent of managers.
UN rights chief Volker Turk urges Musk to ensure Twitter respects human rights.
Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey apologises to staff for growing the company “too quickly”.
After 24 hours, Musk finally tweets that “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day”.
New Twitter Blue
On November 6 Twitter begins rolling out its new paid Twitter Blue subscription plan.
But the relaunch is halted after an embarrassing spate of fake accounts that further scares advertisers.
Twitter unveils on November 9 a new grey “official” label for some high-profile accounts, but hours later Musk “kills” it.
“Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t,” he says to explain the U-turn.
The chaos draws a rare warning on November 10 from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the US authority that oversees consumer safety.
“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” a spokesperson for the FTC says.
Key Twitter security executives quit, including Yoel Roth, the site’s head of trust and safety.
Twitter moves on November 11 to curb fake accounts that have proliferated since Musk’s takeover.
Sign-ups for the new paid checkmark system are suspended.
On November 16 Musk further delays the relaunch of the paid subscription service to November 29.
Musk delivers an ultimatum to Twitter staff on November 16, asking them to choose between being “extremely hardcore” and working long hours, or losing their jobs. They are given until November 17 to decide.
On Friday, employee departures multiply after the ultimatum.
“I may be #exceptional, but gosh darn it, I’m just not #hardcore,” tweets one former employee.