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Aliens, layoffs and work from home: Five takeaways from Elon Musk’s Twitter Q&A

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·3-min read
Aliens, layoffs and work from home: Five takeaways from Elon Musk’s Twitter Q&A
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Elon Musk may not have completed his $44bn Twitter takeover yet, but that did not stop the world’s richest man from joining an all-hands call with his potential new employees.

The Tesla billionaire was 10 minutes late for his Q&A chat with staff at the San Francisco-based social media platform and used a shaky connection from his phone for the call.

That did not stop the world’s richest person from answering, and in some cases sidestepping, issues that are concerning Twitter staff.

Mr Musk had his bid for the company accepted by the board in April, but has since then publicly suggested he could back out over the company not fully disclosing to his satisfaction the number of bots and fake accounts on the platform.

The call did little to persuade workers that Mr Musk’s proposed takeover will be good for them, according to CNBC.

“Employees expressed that many of their worries about layoffs, remote work, a reduced focus on content moderation and inclusion and diversity measures were confirmed,” the business news network stated.

“Employees also sent memes about how to brand themselves as exceptional, according to the source, an apparent reference to Musk’s note that exceptional employees could likely continue to work remotely and would not have to fear layoffs.”

So what did they learn about Mr Musk’s plans for the company?

One billion users

The entrepreneur told the call that success for the company would be an increase in its daily users from 229m in Q1 of 2022 to one billion.

He said the company should model itself on Chinese social media and payment app WeChat, which has more than 1.2bn users.

Critics of WeChat said it has been used by the Chinese government to extend its surveillance and censorship around the world, taking in vast amounts of data from its foreign users.

Loves Twiter but doesn’t need to be CEO

Mr Musk was asked by an employee why he has decided to buy the platform. “I love Twitter. I learn a lot from what I learn on Twitter,” he said.

“Some people use their hair to express themselves, I use Twitter,” he added.

But he insisted he does not need to be the chief executive of the company in order to help it improve and to introduce new products.

Twitter layoffs

Although he has not yet taken control of Twitter, he hinted that job cuts may be coming to the company.

“Right now, costs exceed revenue. That’s not a great situation,” he said. “The company does need to get healthy.”

But he insisted that talented members of staff would be safe, saying, “Anyone who is a signification contributor has nothing to worry about.”

Work from home

Mr Musk has gone on the record with his disdain at Tesla employees working from home and has told his staff there that they have to work 40 hours a week at the office or leave.

“Tesla makes cars, and you can’t make cars remotely,” he said.

He was seemingly softer on the issue for Twitter when asked about it on the call. While he did say that it was “much better if you are on location physically”, he admitted there were exceptions to the rule.

“If someone can only work remotely and they’re exceptional, it wouldn’t make sense to fire them.”

SpaceX and aliens

The Texas-based SpaceX boss told Twitter employees on the call that the goal of the space launch company, which he aims to take to Mars, was “to make life multi-planetary and thus improve the problem lifespan of consciousness.”

He did admit that he has “seen no actual evidence for aliens”.

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