He mulled turning their headquarters into a homeless shelter, questioned whether the company was “dying,” and tweeted out major corporate news that launched a full-scale SEC investigation. Now, at Twitter, Elon Musk will soon be the boss.
It’s no surprise that many of the company’s employees are on edge—and have been for weeks.
“In need of a stiff drink,” one current employee tweeted on Monday, following news that the company had accepted Musk’s roughly $44 billion offer.
“$50 [billion] spent on a social media site when people are starving to death,” added another.
The comments on Blind, an anonymous social media site, have been even more pointed. "Musk is dishonest, clueless and mentally ill," wrote one user, whose account was verified with an active Twitter email address, a Blind spokesperson confirmed.
Another employee took aim at the billionaire’s supporters inside the company’s ranks: “Elon fan boys are braindead mouth breathers and we have a bunch of them at Twitter for the record. Can’t wait [until] he lays half of us off.”
Some more measured critiques questioned whether Musk could devote sufficient attention to the platform, considering his existing workload at Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company tunneling project, the brain-implant maker Neuralink, a growing family, and other projects.
“Why does anyone think that having a CEO run multiple companies is a good thing for [T]witter?” one employee commented. “[Former CEO Jack Dorsey] did this and caught tons of heat for it. It’s not going to be different for Elon.” (It’s not yet known what role Musk will take at the business, or what will happen to its existing leadership team.)
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Though tensions are high, employees’ opinions on the billionaire appear split. As The New York Times previously reported, an informal poll of roughly 200 employees on Blind found that 27 percent hated Musk, 27 percent loved him, and 44 percent were neutral.
Musk has a track record of brutally intense management. In one anecdote cited by Wired, the billionaire once arrived at a Tesla plant late on a Saturday night in 2017 and confronted a young engineer whose equipment was malfunctioning. “Hey, buddy, this doesn’t work!” Musk allegedly screamed at the bewildered worker. “You’re a fucking idiot! Get the fuck out and don’t come back!”
The employee, who “had never met” the big boss before, was out of a job.
More recently, California authorities sued the electric carmaker this year over “allegations of race discrimination and harassment.” Multiple staffers have claimed that misconduct runs rampant at Tesla’s plants, including one worker who was awarded $137 million after accusing his supervisors of repeatedly taunting him with racial epithets.
“Elon has not called me, sent me a letter, a text, sky writing, or sent up one of them spaceships to say I’m sorry,” he told The Daily Beast last fall. (A judge later lowered his award to $15 million.)
Twitter employees work in a markedly different environment, though its staff seems unsure what to expect from Musk.
“I can admit that I'm anxious about the whole thing,” a machine learning engineer tweeted on Monday. “We're all excited about the product and want to better it to make everyone feel heard and empowered in a way that betters humanity.”
“Can someone just tell me if I’m rich or fired please” joked another staffer.
One current senior manager simply directed The Daily Beast on Monday to one of his previous tweets, which featured a skeleton alongside the caption: “me when there's finally a normal week working at twitter dot com.”
In recent weeks, numerous staffers—perhaps believing that a deal with Musk wouldn’t go through—openly critiqued the billionaire.
“Let me tell you about a crazy thing that happened to a company I love,” one product employee wrote to Musk, referring to Twitter. “A guy offered to buy it for $54.20/share, when it was $70/share last summer.”
Yet another employee assailed Musk’s penchant for trolling, likening him to “a playground bully pandering to his fanboy lackeys” for a joke about removing the “w” from Twitter’s name.
Musk’s acquisition is slated to close some time this year. Time will reveal whether he can win the disgruntled employees back, assuming they stick around at all.