Musk's inner circle worked all weekend to cement Twitter's layoff plans

Musk’s inner circle worked all weekend to cement Twitter’s layoff plans


SAN FRANCISCO — Members of billionaire Elon Musk’s inner circle sat down with Twitter’s other senior executives throughout the weekend, conducting detailed discussions about the site’s approach to content moderation, as well as plans to lay off 25% of the workforce to start.

Alex Spiro, a famous celebrity attorney who represented Musk for several years, led those conversations. Spiro plays an active role in managing multiple Twitter teams, including legal, government relations, policy and marketing, according to four people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe them, as well as tweets from some of the people involved.

Longtime Musk associates David Sacks and Jason Calcanis appeared in a company directory over the weekend, according to photos obtained by The Washington Post. Both had official company emails and their titles were “staff software engineer”. Musk’s title in the directory was CEO, although that position has not been publicly announced. He refers to himself as “Chief Twit”.

On October 27, Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter and began to take control of the social media company, firing several key executives. (Video: Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

Meanwhile, the team was deciding on what should be a first round of layoffs, which will target around a quarter of staff totaling more than 7,000, according to one of the people. The layoffs will affect almost every department and are expected to have a specific impact on sales, product, engineering, legal, trust and safety in the coming days, the person said. After engineers, some of Twitter’s highest-paid employees work in sales, where several earn more than $300,000, according to documents seen by The Post.

Elon Musk buys Twitter and fires senior executives

Twitter, Musk, Spiro, Sacks and Calcanis did not respond to requests for comment.

The billionaire owner of Tesla bought Twitter for $44 billion last week after several arduous months of negotiations and legal wrangling. Musk first made an offer on the company in the spring, then tried to walk away months later. Twitter sued to force it into the deal, and eventually the entrepreneur acquiesced and offered to buy the company for its original offering price.

Musk has turned to several longtime allies as he begins his Twitter overhaul.

Sacks, a firebrand conservative and donor, has worked with Musk since they ran PayPal together two decades ago. Sacks posted strong ideas about online content moderation and criticized Big Tech censorship.

Calcanis is also a longtime friend of Musk’s who frequently texted him offering advice on the deal, including the job cuts, according to court records.

Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce

Calacanis tweeted this Saturday was “Day Zero” next to a photo of a Twitter coffee mug, adding that he had discussed security issues, as well as bots and trolls, with Yoel Roth, a Twitter executive responsible for content moderation policy. Roth then released details of these policies.

On Sunday, Musk released apparent internal messages from Roth about Twitter’s actions, saying they show Twitter’s board and attorneys “deliberately withheld … evidence from the court.” The tweet showed Musk using his newly obtained access to inside information to potentially settle scores.

The new management team is asking questions about all aspects of the business, including details of content moderation, spam and the risks of the upcoming election, the people said.

Another Musk associate who tweeted about his involvement, Sriram Krishnan, a cryptocurrency partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also tweeted that he was helping with the deal. The company has invested $400 million.

Less than three days after Musk’s ownership began, Twitter employees remained in the dark about any new plans for the company on Sunday evening, according to numerous employees contacted by The Post, who spoke under the guise of anonymity to protect their jobs. The company has yet to release an official announcement of the acquisition. The communication department remained silent. Rumors have swirled about layoffs, with a few notices coming out quietly.

Twitter layoffs are imminent

The layoffs are expected to begin before November 1, when Twitter employees are expected to receive additional compensation tied to stock awards. On Sunday, Musk tweeted that reports of impending layoffs on Twitter next week were “false.”

Earlier this year, Musk told potential deal partners he planned to cut nearly 75% of Twitter’s total workforce, which would leave the company with around 2,000 employees, according to interviews and reports. documents obtained by The Post. Last week, Musk told employees during his visit to Twitter headquarters that he had no plans to cut three-quarters of the workforce.

Another person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues last week said the total number of layoffs would likely be closer to 50%.

Already, Musk has fired four senior executives, sent Tesla engineers to evaluate Twitter’s software code, and tweeted that he plans to form a council of content moderation experts.

Meanwhile, illustrating the difficulties of his new job, Musk tweeted content from a site known for posting misinformation over the weekend.

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, posted a tweet criticizing the GOP for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories” that she said had emboldened the man who attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside the house of the couple in San Francisco early Friday.

Musk wrote, in a response to the tweet, that “there is a small possibility that there is more to this story than meets the eye,” sharing a link to an article from the Santa Monica Observer, a site described by fact-checkers as an untrustworthy source favoring the far right. The article alleges, without proof, that Paul Pelosi was drunk and in a fight with a prostitute, referring to a conspiracy theory that had hitherto spread on the right. Other right-wing influencers Musk interacted with online also amplified the conspiratorial narrative.

The actions of Musk, who has since deleted the tweet, show that Twitter has a complicated road ahead, especially in navigating Musk’s public actions and reconciling that with what he says privately.

Rachel Lerman contributed to this report.

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