Elon Musk’s bumpy first week at the helm of Twitter

Elon Musk s'installe aux commandes de Twitter et imprime déjà sa marque.

Posted Nov 5, 2022, 9:15 AMUpdated Nov 6, 2022, 3:28 p.m.

Dismissals in shambles, risky offers of subscriptions, hasty decisions questioned in real time on Twitter… Elon Musk wasted no time in making his mark on the social network, since his takeover for 44 billion dollars at the end of October. The founder of SpaceX and boss of Tesla thus dismissed, Friday, November 4, “about half” of Twitter employees.

The company of 7,500 employees would now have less than 4,000. The employees were informed by e-mail on Thursday, November 3, at the end of the afternoon, that they would receive a letter on their personal e-mail address if they were pushed out, and on their professional address s they still had a job.

In fact, many of them discovered that they had been fired on Thursday evening, while trying, in vain, to connect to their professional account. Some employees even learned the news because they were disconnected while participating in a meeting with their colleagues, according to the “New York Times”.

“Well, that sounds promising. I can’t access my emails. My Mac won’t turn on. Very grateful that it happens at 3am. I appreciate the delicacy of the timing guys ”commented, ironically, one of the employees on the platform.

Reduce infrastructure costs by $1 billion per year

Employees who kept their jobs were not necessarily happier. “I received the e-mail… I still have my work”, announced one of them on Friday. “But I spent the night watching talented, caring, hard-working people disappear from the system one after another. »

In addition to the sadness of seeing their colleagues leave, Twitter employees who have not yet been laid off run the risk of being fired later “for misconduct”, which means that they would not be entitled to their severance pay. dismissal. In the meantime, Elon Musk maintained, through a post on Twitter, that all employees already laid off would be awarded the equivalent of three months’ salary as severance pay, or 50% more than the legal minimum across the Atlantic. Great Prince…

To justify the pain, the multi-billionaire argued in the same tweet that Twitter was now losing more than $4 million a day. However, the group’s debt burden will now stand at 1 billion dollars per year (against approximately 50 million until then).

The reason ? To carry out this acquisition, Elon Musk took out a loan of 13 billion dollars which will have to be repaid not by the entrepreneur but by Twitter.

Towards a new certification system

This explains his eagerness to cut expenses. He would thus seek to also reduce infrastructure costs (cloud, servers) by 1 billion dollars per year, understands Reuters, which had access to a discussion on Slack, between Musk and senior executives of Twitter, entitled “Deep Cuts Plan”.

At the same time, Elon Musk is looking for new monetization channels for the blue bird firm. One of its first decisions in this direction will be to charge for and extend the principle of certification, hitherto free and reserved for journalists, artists, politicians, etc. After several reversals – including a lunar exchange on Twitter with writer Stephen King indicating that he would leave Twitter if the price of this feature was set at 20 dollars – Elon Musk chose to establish this one at 8 dollars.

As of this Saturday, the mobile application of Twitter on iPhone proposed an update having to make it possible to subscribe soon to the new subscription. “The sprint to launch continues but some people may see updates because we are testing the changes in real time,” said Esther Crawford, director of product development for the Californian firm, in a tweet. .

Except that initially this verification procedure was invented for moderation reasons, so that Twitter users could recognize real accounts from fake ones. The system devised by Elon Musk will not, a priori, make it possible to distinguish between a famous person and an impostor…

UN concerns

This is not without concern for advertisers – several groups, including volkswagen​, General Mills​, Pfizerhave thus marked a pause in their advertising purchases – still looking for an appropriate environment (“Brand Safety”) to promote their brands.

Especially since the content moderation teams have been particularly affected by the layoff plan. One aspect that Twitter cannot afford to overlook; the group still generates 90% of its revenue through advertising.

Friday, November 4, Elon Musk has again sought to reassure advertisers. According to Yoel Roth, who leads the trust and safety team responsible for moderation on Twitter, only 15% of employees on his team have been fired. “Our moderation capabilities essentially remain in place,” he promised. Not enough to reassure the UN.

On Saturday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, challenged Elon Musk in an open letter. “I urge you to ensure that human rights are central to the management of Twitter under your leadership. […]. Twitter has a responsibility to avoid amplifying content that infringes people’s rights […]. There is no place for hate that incites discrimination, hostility or violence on Twitter,” he wrote. The next few weeks may not be the calmest on Twitter’s side.

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