When it’s blurry, there’s a wolf. This is probably what the Twitter employees to whom Elon Musk spoke for the first time Thursday during a videoconference must have thought. The boss of Tesla and Space-X remained vague on key subjects in the eyes of employees worried about the idea that he does not respect certain values of the company. All this, without affirming with certainty that he would complete the takeover of the platform.
During this meeting, relayed in particular by the “New York Times” and the Bloomberg agency via anonymous sources, Elon Musk expressed his passion for the social network, his preferred means of expression. But he also said he was unhappy with the company’s financial results. “Right now, the costs are exceeding the revenues. It’s not a great situation,” he said, according to the two news outlets.
Citing the success of the Chinese applications TikTok and WeChat as an example, Elon Musk has set an ambitious goal: to reach one billion users when Twitter currently has only 229 million active users called “monetizable”, that is to say say that may be exposed to advertising on the platform.
Call for less moderation
Beyond the business, the employees mainly questioned him about his political vision and his intentions in terms of corporate culture and working conditions. On these aspects, there are no clear answers. As he did last April, the businessman followed by more than 98 million users on the social network, once again underlined the importance in his eyes of less strict content moderation, in limits defined by law.
This conception clashes with that of many employees of Twitter, associations and elected Democrats, who, on the contrary, ask social networks to better fight against hate speech, harassment and misinformation.
Disagreement on teleworking
Elon Musk also remained vague on the sensitive issue of telework. The position of the boss of Tesla on this subject is known: he recently required his employees to work at least 40 hours a week face-to-face, otherwise they would lose their jobs.
While acknowledging that Twitter employees do a different job from those who design and assemble cars, Elon Musk reaffirmed his preference for face-to-face on Thursday. “The bias must definitely be strongly in favor of in-person work, but if someone is doing an exceptional job, remote work can be OK,” Elon Musk said, according to people who attended the meeting. A speech that contrasts with that of the current leaders of Twitter, who are committed to allowing all of their 7,500 employees to work entirely remotely…
Finally, more worrying for Twitter employees, Elon Musk did not specify whether he intended to reduce the workforce. He simply mentioned taking into account the performance of the group, without further details. “Anyone who is a significant contributor should not have to worry,” he added, while reaffirming that he intended to influence the strategic orientations and the improvement of the platform’s products.
Markets not convinced
All of these highlights “the contrast between Musk’s culture and Twitter’s DNA,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives. On Wall Street, investors also do not seem convinced of the compatibility between the whimsical billionaire and Twitter. At 37 dollars, the share price of the social network remains 30% lower than the price proposed, in mid-April, by Elon Musk.
The latter has secured the support of several large fortunes and investment companies to achieve the 44 billion dollars that this takeover must cost. But he still maintains vagueness about his plans and threatens to withdraw his offer because of the number of fake accounts on the network, too many in his eyes.
The whimsical life of Elon Musk in 6 key dates
SpaceX employees can’t take their boss anymore
It’s not just Twitter employees that Elon Musk annoys. The richest man in the world has also alienated his employees at SpaceX, his space exploration company. Several of them reproach him for his behavior in the public sphere, “a source of distraction and shame”. They call on the company to “publicly condemn” its way of tweeting, in a letter which must soon be delivered to the president of SpaceX, according to the specialized site The Verge.