As we’ve previously reported, Elon Musk and Twitter get along like a house on fire. Unfortunately, that is not an idiom – people have fled the burning building, the structure is crumbling, and the owner appears to be salting the ashes.
How did this happen? How did the world’s richest man’s largest purchase ever devolve into a media punchline? After all, Twitter is thriving in some ways. In recent weeks, the platform has seen a surge in active users.
People appear to be interested in what Elon Musk is selling. Why is he having such difficulty giving it to them?
Twitter may suffer right now because of one of Elon Musk’s most basic demands. For a man who sees himself as a futurist, Musk insists on a very traditional 40-hour work week in the office. On November 16th, he emailed that effect. Consequences followed. Why?
According to Elon Musk, his reactionary approach to Twitter’s workforce is to make it “hardcore.” Musk envisions a company staffed entirely by passionate experts, people who regard a 40-hour week in the office as the bare minimum of commitment.
However, the math is against him. Pew Research backs up common sense: people who can work from home prefer to do so, even if the pandemic isn’t a factor. Although Pew does not have a research category for “passionate experts,” people with college degrees and a high income are more likely to work from home.
On November 17th, Musk sent managers some damage control, but it didn’t change his mind. In some ways, it became stricter, instructing supervisors to meet weekly with the few employees granted work-from-home privileges and threatening managers who allowed employees who weren’t “exceptional” to work from home with summary dismissal. Reporter Davey Alba got the following email:
According to a former Twitter executive, the result was a “mass exodus.” CNN and the BBC both report on “salute” emoji cascades in internal Slack channels — farewells from Twitter employees who stayed long enough to get the Thursday email, then tapped out. Many people appear to have agreed with a former Twitter employee who told the BBC, “I didn’t want to work for someone who threatened us over email multiple times in only ‘exceptional tweeps should work here’ when I was already working 60-70 hours per week.”
Twitter may now have fewer than 2,000 employees. It had around 7,500 people before Musk. Musk has reportedly locked employees out of Twitter HQ until next week, citing fear of theft or sabotage, according to Platformer’s Zoe Schiffer.
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That has yet to be confirmed, owing to the fact that, as Axios points out, Twitter no longer has a communications department. We honestly don’t blame Musk for any longer wanting to be CEO of anything.