What will Musk say in his address to Twitter employees? 5 key agenda points worried staff will be desperate to know
Elon Musk is set to meet Twitter staff on Thursday for the first time since he struck a deal with its board to acquire the social media platform for $44 billion in April, according to a report from Business Insider.
The outcome of the deal has recently hinged on Twitter’s own internal analysis that bots and fake accounts make up fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users (mDAU)—a claim Musk disputes as unrealistically low.
Here are several issues Twitter staff will doubtlessly be eager to discuss with Musk on Thursday.
Will he follow through?
That Musk even is holding the meeting is unusual at this point. Ever since he revealed on April 4 that he had become the largest individual shareholder in Twitter with a 9% stake, shares in Tesla have tanked—making the deal seem increasingly unlikely.
The bulk of Musk’s wealth is tied up in the EV company, which lost more than 43% of its value over the period, underperforming a 26% drop in the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite. In part this was also due to a lengthy production shutdown at its Shanghai plant, the linchpin of its overseas operations, amid a COVID lockdown.
After he launched a barrage of attacks at the social media company, including famously replying with a poop emoji to a Twitter thread posted by CEO Parag Agrawal about the bot numbers, speculation grew that Musk might simply use the bot fracas as an excuse to walk away from the deal and try to take the pressure off Tesla’s stock price.
He could potentially claim spurious bot count figures as a “material adverse effect”, pay the $1 billion breakup fee—pocket change for Musk—and dare Twitter to litigate the richest human being on the planet. But addressing the team indicates Musk is still actively engaged and may only be looking to drive down the price of the deal.
Will there be an end to WFH?
Critics peppered Musk with attacks over his “tone- deaf” decision to mandate a full return to office for Tesla and SpaceX employees, virtually without exception. Twitter, known for its flexible work environment, could soon see itself needing to apply the same standards.
Musk has criticized work-from-home advocates as lazy dogs, argued remote work is “phoning it in,” and told employees they can collect their belongings if they think otherwise.
Employees got a taste of what was to come when he tweeted recently “work ethic expectations would be extreme.”
Will hate speech be tolerated?
Musk described himself at the start of the deal to be a “free-speech absolutist” and argued it was “morally wrong and flat-out stupid” to ban Donald Trump from the platform. As the deal wore on, he began aggressively attacking the Democrats as a party embracing division and hate, vowed to vote Republican, and questioned anyone infected by the “woke mind virus.”
With members of the Jan. 6 select committee now openly debating whether law enforcement officials have enough evidence to indict the ex-President for the riots, staff will likely be concerned about what limits Musk may place on hate speech, or on Trump. For his part, Trump has claimed he has no interest to return to Twitter, favoring his own Truth Social platform.
Will there be job cuts?
Twitter’s most recent quarterly loss shows the company suffers from a number of challenges, and while Musk is no stranger to running companies that bleed red ink, that red ink has usually reflected heavy investments in growth.
Musk’s actions at Tesla indicate that he could be expected to move quickly to stamp out inefficiencies at Twitter if the deal goes through. Tesla posted operating expenses of $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter, barely higher than the $2.1 billion reported by its far smaller EV rival Rivian.
Twitter employees could be excused for wondering if such cost-cutting could have their name on it. Apart from threatening to eliminate Twitter’s board to save costs, Musk is reportedly targeting high-ranking execs including chief legal counsel Vijaya Gadde, dubbed by critics as Twitter’s “censorship czar.” Twitter CEO Agrawal meanwhile has done some of his own spring cleaning, sacking two senior execs in a management shakeup he argued was already planned.
Will he be stretched too thin?
Elon Musk fashions himself a workaholic who demands nothing less from his employees. While this is not unsurprising given he is his own lead shareholder, the serial entrepreneur splits his time between his CEO duties at Tesla with those of SpaceX. Each is arguably a full-time assignment, given they employ some 110,000 and 12,000 people, respectively, and are at the forefront of their industries.
Running another major corporation would be unprecedented, but Musk is believed to be looking to take over the reins as Twitter CEO from Agrawal, at least on an interim basis.
For investors in publicly traded Tesla, this represents a major cause for concern, given lapsed timelines on key products like the Cybertruck. Musk’s presentation to Twitter equity investors who helped to finance the bid signaled he had big changes in store, something that will require more than minimal effort on his part.
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