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Elon Musk fires Twitter engineer who called him out online as banks try to part ways

Twitter owner Elon Musk is seen with a Twitter logo in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 21 September, 2022. Twitter management has announced the introduction of a new verification label to replace the blue check previously given only to verified accounts. As the director of the service, Esther Crawford explains, unlike the blue symbol this one will be gray and it will be free. Twitter management has announced the introduction of a new verification label to replace the blue check previously given only to verified accounts. As the director of the service, Esther Crawford explains, unlike the blue symbol this one will be gray and it will be free. Verified accounts will now have an 'Official' badge under their username, along with a gray verification tag. All previously verified accounts will receive the 'official' check mark which will not be available for purchase and not everyone will be eligible. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The billionaire’s brash leadership style his not working at Twitter. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty

Amid thousands of layoffs, a massive culling of contractors and senior departures after Elon Musk’s Twitter (TWTR) takeover, one appears to be personal as an engineer who publicly argued with him on the platform has been sacked.

The confrontation happened when Musk apologised for the fact that Twitter’s Android app is “super slow in many countries”. He suggested that was because the app was badly written.

Eric Frohnhoefer, a developer who said he had worked on Twitter's Android app for years, tweeted that Musk's assessment is wrong.

The two got in a back-and-forth in a public Twitter thread over technical issues concerning the Android app’s performance, with Musk at one point asking : “Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?”

Frohnhoefer admitted there is “plenty of room for performance improvements on Android”, he disputed Musk’s diagnosis of where the problems with speed had come from.

On Monday, Musk tweeted that the engineer had been fired. The tweet has since been deleted.

Watch: Mark Zuckerberg claims he was more considerate than Twitter's Elon Musk over Meta layoffs

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The new Twitter boss, who is now calling himself ‘Chief Twit’, has had a tumultuous run since taking control of the company late last month.

He has fired 3,500 employees (half of the global workforce), introduced a number of controversial features, like charging $8 for verified handles, banning parody accounts and going back and forth between an official grey check. Most of the changes have been rolled back.

A number of company executives have resigned, including head of integrity and safety Yoel Roth, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, and chief information security officer Lea Kissner.

Twitter also cut between 4,400 and 5,500 contract employees on Saturday, some of whom only found out after losing access to internal systems

The chaos around the acquisition has led some Wall Street banks that lent Musk $13bn to finance the buyout to try to put some distance between them and the richest man on Earth.

The lenders have been approaching hedge funds and other asset managers for their interest in a chunk of the buyout debt at deeply discounted prices, according to Bloomberg.

Read more: Elon Musk would reverse ‘morally wrong’ Trump Twitter ban

Some funds have offered to take a piece of the loan package at a discount as low as 60 cents on the dollar, an indicator of a distressed company.

The discount signals that potential buyers are worried about Twitter’s revenues drying up or even going bankrupt, with the lower price offered up to try and cover potential risks.

With some advertisers looking to cut ties with Twitter, the platform could struggle for revenue. Musk said that Twitter has had “a massive drop in ad revenue” and further blamed “activists” for pressuring advertisers off the platform.