Elon Musk’s bid on Twitter gives employees worries, anger

As news of Elon Musk’s hostile takeover bid spread across Twitter on Thursday, employees expressed concern that their workplaces might suffer under the leadership of the burning technology mogul, as well as exhaustion over the company’s uncertain future.

In recent weeks, Musk has taunted Twitter on the social network, reduced major corporate decisions to votes for its approximately 80 million followers – and disrupted the company’s “focus week” as it reduces unnecessary meetings to give employees time to concentrate on their projects. with the news of his takeover on Thursday.

That afternoon, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal held a company-wide meeting to reassure his workforce of 7,500 full-time employees by arguing that one man could not change a culture and that it was up to the company to lay out strategy, according to people familiar with the matter. , who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The reputation Musk has built for himself, among other things through the trolling he deals with on Twitter, is emerging as an obligation among the employees of social media companies. Twitter is known for its liberal workforce and flexible work environment. Musk, on the other hand, has appeared to mock sex words, has negotiated misinformation about the coronavirus, and his company Tesla has been the target of several lawsuits for alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

Several employees tweeted their dissatisfaction Thursday regarding Musk.

Employee dissatisfaction may contribute to the decision, which Twitter’s board faces, as it weighs Musk’s offer, which values ​​the company at $ 43 billion and will take it privately. In addition to assessing the financial details of Musk’s bid, board members will likely consider Musk’s potential leadership as the company struggles with significant business and political challenges.

What happens to Musk buying Twitter?

Twitter’s Agrawal, who first took over as CEO in December, ended up in the awkward position of responding to employees’ criticism of Musk at Thursday’s all-out meeting. He addressed a wide range of questions from Twitter workers about Musk’s offer to buy the company, including how colored people were treated at his company Tesla and the billionaire’s loyal support for free speech on social media. Others asked for employee representation on the board and for what would happen to Twitter employees’ restricted stock units if the company was taken privately, the people said.

Some walked away disappointed with Agrawal’s assurances, saying it felt like empty words.

“Obviously, people are frustrated that employees seem to be an afterthought,” one said.

Twitter employees faced a whirlwind month as Musk first took a massive stake in the company, then agreed to step on the board and then left before joining. The news Thursday that Musk made an offer to take the company privately sent shakes through the workforce, which was already concerned about his management style.

Elon Musk says he has a backup plan to buy Twitter in TED interview

“Musk taking over Twitter would be a nightmare for many employees who have worked under the Dorsey and Twitter regime,” said Daniel Ives, CEO and senior equities analyst at finance firm Wedbush Securities, referring to the company’s former CEO Jack Dorsey. “I would expect a stream of resumes to hit if Musk eventually takes over Twitter. And I think there’s a big upheaval that’s going to happen there one way or another.”

Twitter declined to comment. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier Thursday during a TED Talk in Vancouver, Musk said he would be wrong on the side of free speech. “I think we’ll just be very reluctant to delete things and … just be very careful about permanent bans,” he said, adding that he would prefer timeouts.

Last week, Musk revealed that he had bought more than 9 percent of the shares in Twitter, and the next day, Agrawal announced that Musk would join the board. On Sunday night, Agrawal issued a subsequent announcement that Musk had rejected the seat.

Even before his takeover bid, some Twitter employees struggled last week to support Musk’s involvement in the company because they said his values ​​seemed to conflict with the company, according to internal messages seen by The Washington Post. Several employees noted in internal messages that Musk, who considers himself a champion of freedom of expression, has appeared to express contempt for the use of gender pronouns.

“We know he has caused harm to workers, the trans community, women and others with less power in the world,” one employee asked. “How should we reconcile this decision with our values? Does innovation trump humanity?”

When Musk was still going to join the board, Agrawal said he would hold a town hall with Musk so employees could ask them questions.

To add to the Twitter employees’ dismay on Thursday, the takeover bid came in the middle of the company’s “focus week”, where it reduces unnecessary meetings to give employees time to concentrate on their projects, after a “rest day” on Monday where everyone gets off.

Musk launches a hostile takeover bid on Twitter

On Thursday, another worker called Musk’s behavior bullying in a tweet. “‘Titter’ is currently trending because he decided – like a playground bully who addresses his fanboy lackeys – to make a joke at Twitter’s expense,” the employee wrote. “And we all know that the joke is not really meant to be. Humiliation is.”

Tesla’s Bay Area plant has been prosecuted for allegations of ill-treatment of workers, violations of labor rights, racism and sexual harassment. The factory, which houses more than 20,000 workers, is, according to Tesla, the company’s busiest production facility, where it builds its Model 3, Y, S and X vehicles.

California’s workplace regulator sued Tesla in February, alleging widespread racial discrimination, saying it had received hundreds of complaints from workers regarding the Fremont, California plant. In a separate case, Tesla was ordered to pay millions to a former elevator operator who claimed a hostile work environment and racist harassment. And several women have filed complaints of sexual harassment against Tesla, claiming they have been subjected to lewd comments, shouting, inappropriate touching and discrimination at the company’s facilities.

Tesla has refused to promote a culture of racism and harassment and has sought to have some of the cases moved to arbitration so that the cases are heard out of court.

California is suing Tesla for racial discrimination and harassment

The Fremont plant also became the site of controversy in early 2020, when Musk defiantly reopened the plant despite county-level orders that would have prevented workers from being at work. Musk promised that workers could stay home if they felt uncomfortable. The Post later reported that some workers received notice of termination despite this policy.

Tesla employees who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation said they are afraid to publish their opinions, in part because an employee was fired this year after posting videos of the company’s “Full Self-Driving “Software for YouTube. These clips were later analyzed by The Post.

“These [workers] are really, really scared, ”said a worker at a Tesla factory, who said they feared incurring Musk’s anger. “He rules with an authoritarian fist.”

In addition to being CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, Musk also founded the tunnel company Boring Co. and Neuralink, which seeks to implant computer chips in people’s brains.

If the acquisition is successful, Musk would inherit a business that is in a race to grow its user base and revenue after years of flawed financial results. Twitter is the smallest peer of social media competitors such as Facebook and TikTok – both of which have amassed more than a billion users – and it has faced declining user growth issues and revenue generation concerns. Twitter has estimated 217 million daily users for comparison.

Analysis: How Elon Musk played Twitter

Twitter is known for moving slowly in releasing new products and features. After activist investor Elliott Management took over a stake in the company in 2020, Twitter set several ambitious targets for user and revenue growth by the end of 2023.

And the company recently underwent a major change of leadership. In December, Agrawal, who spent four years as chief technology officer, succeeded Dorsey as chief executive. Dorsey had also served as CEO of both Twitter and online payment firm Square, which had drawn criticism from investors that his time was too divided.

In a surprising tweet, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he is resigning

“Can you anticipate a scenario where he will make changes to the management team if he takes over?” asked Mark Shmulik, CEO of research firm AllianceBernstein. “It certainly looks like that, but [it’s] hard to say.”

Twitter has invested in new products such as its audio chatroom feature Twitter Spaces, which was designed to compete with the upstart Clubhouse. Musk has already indicated that he believes changes can be made to Twitter Blue, the company’s new subscription service that gives paying customers special features, including the freedom to cancel tweets.

Meaning: Elon Musk understands what’s wrong with Twitter. Do the media?

Conflicts with employees can arise if Musk took over and actually said, “Stop what you are doing at the moment. That’s what I want you to focus on, ”Shmulik said.

Creating more employee anxiety is the potential for Musk to change the way the company treats political content that may violate its rules around hate speech, harassment and threats.

In the past, Twitter has been willing to go beyond its social media to punish political leaders for breaking their terms. Twitter also took the unprecedented step of permanently banning former President Donald Trump because of his role in inciting the troublemakers who stormed the U.S. Capitol last year, sparking backlash from conservatives that the company was suffocating their views.

On Thursday at the TED conference, Musk said that freedom of speech means giving others the opportunity to express opinions they disagree with.

It’s “annoying when someone you dislike says something you dislike,” he said. “It’s a sign of healthy, functioning freedom of speech.”

The technology CEO said in a letter to Twitter chairman Bret Taylor that he believes the company has “the potential to be the platform for freedom of expression across the globe” – something he considered crucial to a well-functioning democracy.

He believes that “the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter must be transformed as a private company.”

Leave a Comment