Elon Musk, Plus a Circle of Confidants, Tightens Control Over Twitter

Elon Musk and a gaggle of his advisers have tightened their grip over Twitter, assembly with firm executives to work on layoffs, ordering up product modifications, speaking with advertisers and reviewing content material moderation insurance policies, based on greater than a dozen present and former workers concerned within the efforts.

The priorities for the world’s richest man and his advisers at Twitter are twofold, 5 of the folks stated: They’re engaged on tips on how to trim the corporate’s ranks whereas additionally exploring a slew of modifications to Twitter’s cell app.

For now, the timing and scope of layoffs stays fluid as lists of the highest and decrease performers on the firm are finalized, the folks stated. Mr. Musk’s advisers have additionally assigned a crew of Twitter’s engineers to work on its “verification” program, the system that doles out badges to high-profile or notable customers to verify their profiles’ authenticity. Twitter might cost customers $20 a month to retain their verified standing, two folks with information of the discussions stated.

Mr. Musk, 51, flew to New York on Sunday after spending a lot of final week at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, based on one particular person conversant in his actions and a Twitter account that tracks the location of his personal jet. A few of his trusted confidants stay in San Francisco, the folks stated, together with David Sacks, a enterprise capitalist, and Sriram Krishnan, a former Twitter product chief and accomplice on the funding agency Andreessen Horowitz, which invested in Mr. Musk’s buyout of Twitter.

Different advisers, lots of whom have been in a “warfare room” with Mr. Musk at Twitter’s headquarters final week, embrace Jared Birchall, the pinnacle of Mr. Musk’s household workplace, Alex Spiro, his private lawyer, and Jason Calacanis, a tech investor and podcaster, stated six folks with information of the matter. Mr. Musk additionally caused 50 engineers, product leaders and workers members to Twitter from his different firms, equivalent to the electrical carmaker Tesla, the tunnel firm the Boring Firm and rocket maker SpaceX, stated 4 folks with information of the matter and inner paperwork seen by The New York Instances.

Their actions have thrown Twitter’s 7,500 workers into upheaval, with present and former staff buying and selling personal messages and forming group chats to debate what is going on on the firm. Some are calling Mr. Musk’s advisers “Elon’s goons.” Many are fearful about whether or not they’ll nonetheless have jobs.

Mr. Musk, who has a fame as an aggressive supervisor, has moved shortly to overtake Twitter since he completed the $44 billion buyout of the corporate on Thursday. He instantly fired the corporate’s chief government, chief monetary officer and others. He additionally stated he would form a content moderation council to resolve what sorts of posts to maintain up on Twitter and what to take down, and stated he wouldn’t immediately reinstate customers who had been banned from the platform.

His modifications aren’t anticipated to subside anytime quickly. Mr. Musk, who loaded $13 billion of debt onto Twitter for the buyout, faces financial pressure to show its enterprise round so he will pay the curiosity — about $1 billion a 12 months — on the debt. Will probably be a problem. Twitter has not turned a revenue for eight out of the final 10 years, and the broader digital promoting market has been hit by world financial fears.

Mr. Musk didn’t reply to a request for remark, whereas Twitter declined to remark. A few of Mr. Musk’s advisers have tweeted about how they’re working with the billionaire on serving to the corporate make the transition.

Mr. Musk’s work on altering Twitter’s verification program was reported earlier by The Verge.

On Monday, Jack Dorsey, a Twitter founder, disclosed in a regulatory filing that he had rolled over his stake within the social media service into the brand new firm beneath Mr. Musk’s possession. The worth of Mr. Dorsey’s stake was roughly $1 billion based mostly on Mr. Musk’s buy value for Twitter.

At Twitter’s headquarters final week, Mr. Musk and his advisers met with prime managers, two folks concerned within the conferences stated. These managers have been requested to clarify their groups and what their divisions did, the folks stated, together with detailing how Twitter’s algorithms kind and serve up content material, the relationships with key advertisers and the way the promoting platforms work.

Twitter managers concerned within the conversations stated they felt as in the event that they have been being evaluated for his or her jobs. Some slept on the workplace on Friday and Saturday nights, they stated.

The managers have been additionally requested for lists of their groups and the “prime performers,” stated 4 folks concerned within the deliberations, including that this was a method for Mr. Musk and his colleagues to find out who to maintain and who to chop. Mr. Spiro and Mr. Birchall are crunching the numbers and looking out carefully at layoffs, two folks stated.

Within the occasion of mass layoffs, Mr. Musk is required by the U.S. Employee Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to supply advance discover to the federal government and workers. Staff haven’t obtained any notification, 4 workers stated. A spokeswoman for San Francisco’s Workplace of Financial and Workforce Growth stated that, as of Monday, the town had not obtained such a discover.

“There’s quite a lot of stress to do it as shortly as potential,” Brian J.M. Quinn, a professor at Boston Faculty Regulation Faculty, stated of job cuts. Mr. Musk “is beneath stress nearly from the get-go to scale back prices at Twitter. Revenues are clearly down.”

Not less than two Twitter workers, who have been publicly crucial of Mr. Musk and his takeover, have been fired in current days, stated two folks on the firm.

Mr. Musk and his advisers have additionally explored rapid modifications to the app to bolster income. That features modifications to Twitter’s verification program, which was free for authorized customers. Mr. Musk now desires to cost folks $20 a month to maintain their verified standing and set a Nov. 7 deadline for the change, or folks on the verification crew would face termination, two folks with information of the efforts stated. Phrases of the brand new program are nonetheless in dialogue and will change throughout product growth, they added.

Some workers stated the change might set off tax implications for Twitter, whereas others fearful about regulatory pushback, two workers stated. Some verified customers who’re generally known as Very Necessary Tweeters may be on an inventory led by the Workplace of International Property Management, or O.F.A.C., which is an company of the Treasury Division that manages and administers worldwide sanctions. It might be unlawful for an organization to simply accept cash from sure customers on such an inventory.

Not less than one product shift — an alteration of Twitter’s logged-out dwelling web page that now exhibits trending subjects as an alternative of a login display screen — has already been carried out, in what three folks stated was a check of engineers’ capabilities.

On Sunday, Mr. Musk additionally ran a ballot on Twitter asking if he ought to “deliver again Vine,” a brief video platform that the social media firm purchased and later shut down.

Some present and former workers have created personal Slack teams outdoors of Twitter to commiserate with each other, stated 4 people who find themselves within the teams. In a single such group, former Twitter workers try to unfold “constructive” messages as insiders fear concerning the destiny of their employment.

On Monday, some staff tweeted dark jokes about refreshing their e-mail inboxes as they awaited a layoffs announcement.

On Sunday evening, after a Twitter account that follows Mr. Musk’s personal airplane confirmed that it had landed at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, hypothesis arose amongst Twitter workers that he would seem on the firm’s New York workplace this week.

“We’re having a really productive day assembly with the advertising and promoting group right here in New York,” Mr. Calacanis, certainly one of Mr. Musk’s advisers, tweeted on Monday. “So many nice concepts on tips on how to improve pleasure on the platform!”

Lauren Hirsch contributed reporting.

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