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Musk’s first email to Twitter staff ends remote work (bloomberg.com)
766 points by mfiguiere 82 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1411 comments

Let's say you run a company and you want to reduce staff. Let's also say you want to make an unpopular decision (or multiple unpopular decisions) that you know will drive a certain percentage of your staff to leave the company. Wouldn't it make the most sense to announce those decisions before making layoffs? Let people self select whether they want to stay and work for you and then make your layoffs after to ensure all teams are properly staffed. Instead, Musk has already laid people off to the point that they are trying to hire back people previously laid off and current employees are sleeping in the office. Now he is pushing even more people out the door with no control over what teams will be hurt the hardest.

I worked at a place that did this in 2009.

The problem with this method is that many people DID relocate to keep their jobs. And then were layed off two months later.

Imagine uplifting your life for your job, and then being told you need to find a new job anyway.

In 2020 the company I worked for did ~25% temp salary reduction so they could feel safe that they could keep everyone employed and such. 3 months after everyone did it they said "thank you thank you we are so happy we don't need to let anyone go". 2 months later they laid off ~50% of the development team and people throughout the company...

At the end of the year they said no bonuses, followed by an email saying despite covid they made a profit.

Companies lie to employees all the time.

Zebra did a 5% salary cut during the start of the pandemic while saving costs on the offices, forced a pto burn, hiring freeze, and then had to spend $500 million to buy another company it wanted to buy.

These large companies are struggling.

In what I guess is confusing to many, when a company buys another company, or even purchases capital equipment of some kind, it can finance that by a loan, and the result is that the asset side of the ledger doesn't take a hit. But when a company pays salary, it can't finance that with a loan, as expenditures on salary do cause the asset side to take a hit. This is the difference.

I understand that to many people they seem like they are in the same category of "spending money" but spending money on an income earning investment is not the same as spending money on operating expenses.

If labor isn't an income earning investment for a company when compared to acquiring another company then it sounds like the most mismanaged company ever.

It’s about capex vs opex and they have legal definitions.

A lot of times this is to make dividend payments and to boost financial numbers by sucking up the operating profits of the acquired company.

I had a run in with Zebra a few months back. I was impressed by that small interaction. I had no idea they operated this way!

I spoke to people from the UK (seems they were from an AI related acquisition .. not sure what acquisition). They seem to have good infra and intelligent technical people.

> Companies lie to employees all the time.

My friends and I have no loyalty to our employers at this point. Big or small, we've all been burned. Some places are just less unpleasant than others. My bar is so low that as long as no one is screaming at me or threatening my coworkers I usually call that a good day. Getting out of retail helped.

My wife used to work in retail. Compared to front-line retail staff, we knowledge workers are all a bunch of coddled teddybears.

For now. Things like "learn to code" initiatives teaching everyone including coal miners how to code, the bootcamps and other programs like that are trying to take away this freedom we have. Its an ongoing war between the capital class and everyone else.

Kind of sad "retail workers have it much worse" is what prevents people from taking action, though.

Employees need to get everything in writing as part of a contract/agreement. If a company won't put it in writing, then you should assume they are lying.

They usually lie in writing as well.

Since suing your employer is a career-ending move, contracts don't make much of a difference either.

Touche, no doubt they'll probably try to settle for less than the contract but it still puts you in a much better position and sets an industry standard that is much needed. Otherwise, simply standing up for yourself or asking for a written agreement will get you fired.

> they made a profit

That's literally the raison d'etre of commercial companies. So, yeah, most will do what it takes to remain profitable.

> That's literally the raison d'etre of commercial companies

Maybe for some financial companies, perhaps crypto or high-frequency trading firms, I might imagine.

But for most companies, the reason they exist is that they provide some product or service to customers. For example, FedEx delivers packages. Apple makes smartphones and runs its App Store. Netflix provides video streaming services and makes its own programs. Etc.. Without such a product or service, there is little reason for any of these companies to exist.

I've yet to find a company mission statement which is "make as much of a profit as possible." There probably is one somewhere, but they certainly aren't the norm.

If we look at Netflix, for example, we see

"We promise our customers stellar service, our suppliers a valuable partner, our investors the prospects of sustained profitable growth, and our employees the allure of huge impact."

In this statement they acknowledge multiple stakeholders: customers, suppliers, investors, and employees. A company without customers is either a startup or a pyramid scheme.

You'd be surprised. Coca Cola has the mission statement of "Creating profit for stakeholders". Not to sell beverages, or anything else.

Even Coca-Cola seems to acknowledge multiple stakeholders:

"FOR A BETTER SHARED FUTURE • Invest in employees’ personal growth and talent • Empower people’s access to equal opportunities, build inclusion • Create value for customers—big and the many small • Support our local communities, both to achieve more and in times of need • Deliver returns to our investors"

source: https://www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/us/en/o...

see also: https://investors.coca-colacompany.com/about/our-purpose

All generalizations are false.

Well yes, the actual best approach for the wellbeing of employee is to combine these two moves. Give employees the choice between taking a voluntary severance package or coming back to the office. Make it known that a round of layoffs is possible depending on the number of people who take the severance. That way no one is misled into moving and the company doesn't have to be as concerned with the distribution of people who refuse to work in the office.

And let's be honest, Musk isn't doing it in this order for the wellbeing of Twitter's employees.

I don't think I've ever seen a company leave a question of "possible" layoffs up in the air like that. If they happen the announcement is made the same day, otherwise you have people questioning their employment for months.

Musk came in saying he wanted to get rid of 75% of the employees:


Then a week later took it back:


I think every single person at Twitter should be contemplating their employment right now.

I was at a medium-sized company (~100 employees) that laid off ~60% of their employees. Including 95% of the dev team. Everyone could see just how much of a bad move it was, and that was only the first bad move.

Most of the remaining skilled employees started looking for new jobs immediately. They could see the writing on the wall. Others just checked out and stopped caring about their work, doing just the bare minimum. The bulk of the remaining experienced employees were gone within two months. The people who remained were the lower-level employees, without the experience to keep the company working.

Coincidentally, the company fell apart and went into liquidation 6 months later.

No executives lay off 60% of their employees for fun. Typically, this course of action is reserved for when the company believes they have a 95% chance of failing and that doing the layoff will mean they now have an 80% chance of failing.

That the company later failed is not proof positive that the layoffs were a bad idea.

But it is proof that it was a good idea for those that weren't laid off to jump ship asap.

Yeah, when a company is going to crash, it's better not to stay around until the end. Quite often, the last month(s) of work is unpaid.

With all the upheaval at Twitter, I doubt it's going to survive. Well, the name will remain, and as long as servers keep running, some people will keep using it, so as long as Musk can hire enough people to keep the servers running, Twitter might be able to continue in some form, but it will never be the company it once was.


In this case, actually coincidental. It was externally trigged event 3 months later that ended up killing the company. Even a healthy company would struggle to navigate such a scenario.

But it was absolutely on a fatal path before that event, just a question of how long.

The 75% number was a trial balloon to make the real number (50%) less shocking.

"Musk came in saying he wanted to get rid of 75% of the employees:"

Well known tactics, usually employed by politicians. Want to raise taxes by 5%? Don't tell that, just announce previously that the country needs a 10% taxes raise, then for pretend for a while you're struggling to lower them because you care for the people and finally settle to 5%.

thats just another way of "price anchoring". When you go to the department store, and that $40 shirt is 'on-sale' for $15, they never expect to get $40 for it. (in fact, many never actually sell that at that price) but it does make you suddenly look at it as a $40 shirt, that your saving money on, instead of comparing it to other $15 shirts.

Exactly. That shirt might have cost like $10 the day before, but if priced $15 near a barred $40 sign is perceived as a better bargain.

I think it's worth mentioning that 75% was what was pitched to investors and wasn't intentionally publicized.

But the problem is where do they go? Yes, Twitter laid off 3750 people, but Meta just laid off 11000, so the job market -- at least for that pool -- is saturated right now, and I'm not sure if anyone wants to voluntarily walk off their job in today's economy.

Number I saw this morning showed meta had added 15k workers since Jan 2022. Laying off 11k still has a higher headcount than a year ago. The question of who those 11k were May be more interesting, but this doesn’t seem like some end of the world bloodbath.

This is nothing. The NYC developer market was completely saturated in 2008 when Lehman brothers went under and AIG made huge cuts to their IT organization. I recall the number being 60-80k developers looking for jobs all at once.

If you have employable skills you will find work

Might find work, but is it at the same comp level? I'm unemployed, I'm worried I'll have to take less then pay then I was making before (270-320k based on the stock price)

I’m also in BigTech and have seen my compensation drop (unless there is a major uptick before my next vest in a month).

But, seriously, I’ve got the worlds smallest fiddle for someone who is worried that they may not make 270K+ going forward.

Yes my stock has dropped by 50% from its 52 week high. It stings. But it doesn’t affect my life at all. I made sure that I could live off of my base pay - and still max out my 401K.

Rising interest, rent house prices all increasing. There's no stability. With pay decreasing it's further out of reach

Welcome to a recession. You either wait it out or take less pay if you are desperate. Better to have some job than no job, yeh?

Surely you saved during those years of 270k tc

Also now your skills and experience are more relevant to your salary.

Back to measly $200k for you!!

Seems like most (if not all) of the top tech companies are also on hiring freezes.

Corporate america is literally millions of positive, and unemployment is very low.

It’s a drop in the ocean. There are millions of programming jobs out there.

Did meta lay off productive ICs or just recruiters and similar?

That may become the case in the US, but in places like Sweden you have to announce long before the actual layoffs to give the unions a chance to negotiate.

I went through a layoff where they announced they had to make major reductions in headcount (it ended up being about 30% but I'm not sure that number was announced). There was then several months of discussions with the unions before they announced who had to leave.

If you were not impacted they didn't tell you anything until the announcement. The people who were impacted had been briefed beforehand. As I was staying on I didn't know anything, which was stressful, but I guess that if I had known about the process it would have been less so.

There are reasons unions exist and if things get harsh enough in tech they’ll appear. Whenever the employers bite too hard.

That is the law in the US. In California specifically they needed 60 days public notice before a large layoff. That’s why employees have already sued Twitter.

The poster is talking about something more protective. in Spain before a massive layoff a company has to submit a plan to the government and get approval, as well as negotiating it with unions. Nothing like this can happen suddenly. That's on top of obligations to pay severance and give individual notice in some timeframe.

I’ve recently been through the WeWork layoff, and it was in the air for 3 months. Meta’s layoff from 2 days ago was also “possible” for at least 2 quarters, with comments from leadership and q&a responses that made everyone’s life even more miserable than usual. So in my personal experience at least, it’s pretty much how layoffs go

You’d be surprised. I’m currently in the “questioning my employment phase”, with 15% salary deferment.

A more deliberate (some might say sneaky, but I'd prefer it if I was in the situation) move would be to take an extra week or two to have some of your management do some feeling out of who would be 100% opposed to remote so you could include them in the layoff list, but also don't force people to uproot just to be laid off.

But at least you could avoid some of the "unregretted attrition" of people you decided to keep.

(This assumes Musk isn't intentionally sequencing things to limit the "official" size of the layoff while actually wanting to cut a significantly larger percentage.)

The other problem is that these unpopular decisions end up driving away the people who are the most confident about being able to find a new job, leaving you with less-skilled employees who maybe feel less comfortable job hunting.

Yes. It's never wise to cede anything to pushy jerks like that because they'll just take and take without end. The only answer they respect is "no".

Doesn't seem like this is the type of decision tree Elon uses. Parent comment seems more like what I'd expect Elon to optimize for.

I'm afraid that you shouldn't subduct to this tyranny in first place.

To 'subduct' is to take away or subtract from.

Probably back-forming from geological sense

I think putting this tyranny deep underground would be a great idea.

2009 was a different time and this is the easiest time to find a new job for the rest of the collapse.

> Wouldn't it make the most sense to announce those decisions before making layoffs? Let people self select whether they want to stay and work for you and then make your layoffs after to ensure all teams are properly staffed.

He's got huge debt and declining revenue - both of his own making - so he doesn't have time for employees to self-select based on minor incentives. He has to strip down the car fast while somehow also keeping it road-worthy and operational. He also wants to recreate the place per his own vision, so it makes sense to get rid of as many people carrying the previous culture as you can and then start hiring as necessary with the kind of people you want.

>then start hiring as necessary with the kind of people you want.

That assumes that people will still want to work for Twitter after all of this.

Given that there is no shortage of jobs for engineers even after massive layoffs at Facebook/Meta and Twitter, many people are going to think twice about signing up to work for a company and owner that have a reputation for treating people as disposable trash.

Employees are the company's most valuable capital - so if you unceremoniously boot out the most experienced staff that was keeping the ship afloat and expect to replace them with cheap new hires while maintaining productivity, security and revenue (which weren't great at Twitter to begin with), you would have to be delusional.

Some layoffs were likely justified but thanks to the hamfisted way they were done I am sorry for the recruiters that will have to look for new staff now. They will have a very unenviable job.

> That assumes that people will still want to work for Twitter after all of this.

Just a data point, but Twitter is now much more interesting to me (as a place of work) than it was before. Which is to say, it went from zero interest to "maybe?"

* Chaos provides opportunities to make real changes instead of being just a tiny cog doing what you're told.

* Advancement is going to be faster in a fast-changing organization.

* It's in "go big or go broke" mode. After a year you're probably going to know which. Better than spending a decade working for a zombie.

* I'm left-of-center, yet... I find political tribalism really fucking annoying. Musk could only improve Twitter in this regard.

So it's a mixed bag. I don't have strong opinions about Twitter (I'm not really a user) but it's way too early to be writing epitaphs.

> I'm left-of-center, yet... I find political tribalism really fucking annoying. Musk could only improve Twitter in this regard.

I'm not so sure about this, anything he gets involved in only seems to get worse in this regard.

Can't be very far left if you think Musk is anything but human garbage.

Thank you for clearly illustrating the toxic attitude that I was referring to.

I agree. I still don't think I could bring myself to work for an adtech company, but pre-Musk twitter seemed particularly bad. Bloated, slow-moving, and stale, no direction, no vision. And if the vlogs coming out of there were any indication, a boring vapid, shallow, and entitled culture.

After Musk, there is potential where previously there was none.

After Musk, there is potential where previously, before Trump, there was none.

I’m sure the folks at Yahoo thought the same as it muffled along for years…

> * It's in "go big or go broke" mode. After a year you're probably going to know which. Better than spending a decade working for a zombie.

The people inside seem to already know which it is, and it's only been 2 weeks.

> Chaos provides opportunities to make real changes instead of being just a tiny cog doing what you're told.

You think you will have autonomy or ability to make changes you want in a company run by Elon Musk? Cause by literally everything I read, his management style is pretty much the opposite.

> I'm left-of-center, yet... I find political tribalism really fucking annoying. Musk could only improve Twitter in this regard.

I can see Musk making polarization bigger, but for the love of god I cant see him making smaller.

"his management style"

Hitting a pen and implementing his cool ideas unilaterally, followed by a speed bump and new opposite cool ideas a day later?

So passe. So cool!

> Given that there is no shortage of jobs for engineers

Where are these jobs? At startups that see they may not get another round of funding soon? At unprofitable recently IPOd unicorns that are losing money and cutting back staff? At Amazon (where I work) that just announced a hiring freeze? At Google where they admitted over hiring?

The categories you just mentioned probably don't even equal half of SWE employment in the U.S.

So let’s talk about the other side of the market that I am also familiar with “enterprise development” [1] - banks, bespoke internal apps that will never see the light of day outside of the company, etc. Those companies are also cutting back.

[1] I work at $BigTech. But my work involves cloud consulting mostly with enterprises and I spent most of my 20+ career as your standard “enterprise dev”.

The market is going to get tight if FAANG is on a hiring freeze/laying people off. Other companies are going to look to the FAANGs to make their decisions. It was real hot for a year but if you stick 20k developers on the market at the same time you take 20k jobs off the market combined with other companies going cold. The market is going to get tougher, even for SWE/OPS.

Slowly most of these companies are going to freeze their hiring.

I'm sure he can drag some Tesla software engineers in for a few months to fill the gaps. That's how this works, right? /s

Yup. I've been that guy twice on projects. Started a contract. Oh all the other guys were fired/left! I laughed inside a bit, took the 6 months pay and watched it tank both times because there was fuck all I could do about it but was contracted for butts on seats only.

I was an expensive parachute into a slurry pit.

> I was an expensive parachute into a slurry pit.

Such a lovely metaphor. Now that I think about it, I’ve felt like that at times…

There will be people who want to work for Musk.

> He also wants to recreate the place per his own vision, so it makes sense to get rid of as many people carrying the previous culture as you can and then start hiring as necessary with the kind of people you want

So, he's destroying all of the institutional knowledge, the brand image, and the existing business relationships, while pivoting to a radically different market.

He wanted a fresh startup to sink $44 billion into, not an existing business with employees he doesn't want, a legacy product that doesn’t fit his vision, and feature iteration velocity constraints from FTC consent decrees that a new startup wouldn’t have.

> So, he's destroying all of the institutional knowledge, the brand image, and the existing business relationships, while pivoting to a radically different market.

Sounds about right. Also, I don't think he values the institutional knowledge much, and thinks he can replace it quickly, because he thinks Twitter employees were idiots and he makes reusable space rockets something something.

Now he has to find a way out of his predicament. First step, fire a lot of people to stop the monetary bleeding he caused. Second step, find others to blame - activists organizing boycotts - or have his buddy the founder take public blame for him. Third, bring in his "A-team" of super rocket EV tunnel software engineers to fix it all up to work better with 1/5th the people. I don't think he cares if he has to do institutional and human damage to achieve it.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on what kinds of unique institutional knowledge you think they've built up and what sets the Twitter employees apart from their peers at other companies. My main guess would be scaling caches and services, but even that isn't a super rare these days compared to say 2006. I'm not sure what about Twitter specifically, the app and its functions, is that complex to pass on. Coming into codebases that large is very challenging, but it's doable. Isn't the current calculus ~ lowering headcount to stay solvent vs. the risk of more lost knowledge and the other 50% of the company losing their jobs?

Well, for one, Twitter is under a 20 year consent decree with the FTC and all of the relevant leaders in charge of this resigned this week and individual twitter engineers now need to "self certify" that they're complying with the decree.

People who have intimate experience with just exactly the degree of latitude the FTC will allow for twitter and have a personal relationship that allows them to negotiate with the FTC isn't exactly a skill you can just find on the street.

For details, there are at least 2 issues with the FTC.

in 2011 there was a settlement about Failure to Safeguard Personal Information [1].

"Under the terms of the settlement, Twitter will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information, including the measures it takes to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic information and honor the privacy choices made by consumers.

Then in 2022 FTC charged Twitter for using account security data for targeted advertising. They have a $150M fine and some other conditions [2].

[1] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2011/03/...

[2] https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2022/05/...

> what kinds of unique institutional knowledge you think they've built up and what sets the Twitter employees apart from their peers at other companies

Literally knowing how twitter codebase works. Knowing about existing issues and workarounds for them. You wont find this knowledge in other companies.

> Coming into codebases that large is very challenging, but it's doable.

Sure, but it takes awful lot of time if there is no one around to explain you stuff. By awful time, I mean really a lot of additional time.

I have followed Tesla closely over the years and this is par for the course of how he operates(similar things have happened at SpaceX but I know more Tesla specifics).

The issue is that in the case of Tesla, automakers have tried a lot of stupid things Musk have done and failed beforehand. Musk ignores those prior learnings and repeats all the mistakes that incumbents made decades ago.

What has saved his butt time and time again is the fact that he has been able to conjure up enough financial runway to re-learn the mistakes and recover and the fact that sometimes mistakes made by others in the past are no longer mistakes given today's environment and end up becoming competitive advantages. So he wins some and he loses some.

One example of him losing is when he attempted to automate all the assembly in the factory in 2017. He messed up and hired the wrong people to design the body of the Model 3 and it ended up too expensive to manufacture. In response he attempted to use robots in assembly to cut costs. The technology for what he wanted to do was still not ready just like it was not ready in the 70s when GM tried to do the same thing. Robots are Blind, one armed, and stupid. They cannot handle finesse when dealing with a noisy real world.

On the other hand, GM and others were adamant to design their cooling systems with multiple loops because that was the way things were done and it was a reliable way to accomplish the task. As a result this thinking was ingrained in all the OEMs. They have cooling departments that defend their approaches and it causes stagnation. Musk's approach of repeating all the things that OEMs already did led to him discarding beliefs that no longer are the best way of doing things and led a much better and cheaper design using one cooling loop and adjusting between heat/cold using software. When every penny counts as it does in automotive this was a competitive advantage that now competitors are copying.

As long as he has enough runway I wouldn't count him out as he seems to running the same playbook as Tesla and SpaceX.

It's weird how many people are experiencing sudden onset amnesia. Prior to Elon getting control, everyone understood Twitter was a mess, was losing tons of money and not able to get anything done for the past decade.

Obviously it needs a major shakeup.

IIRC, Twitter was (just barely and recently) profitable, before Musk took over and saddled them with $1 billion/year in debt service and tanked ad sales.

It wasn't awesome, but it had found a working groove.

I had no idea what the financial situation was, other than that it's not part of FAANG for a reason. According to [0] Twitter was actually on a positive trajectory. Revenue has generally gone up over time. Profit wise 2020 was bad, but overall the last 5 years were much better than the 5 years prior to that. There is no shortage of companies that needed a shakeup more than Twitter.


Even ~10 years ago it was a money fire (https://money.cnn.com/2016/03/21/technology/twitter-10th-ann...). Trump was one of the best things that happened to the platform.

But back then Twitter was run by the right sorts of people, not a wildcard with conservative leanings. They were running the business into the ground, but they were card-carrying socialists, so it just meant they were fucking the shareholders over and protecting workers and the marginalized. Musk is acting purely out of self-interest and spite.


You're insane if you think old Twitter leadership were "card carrying socialists"

Elon is used to taking advantage of the intrinsic motivation of employees (you get to save the environment/explore space/etc. So cool!)

No one (or very few) will feel this way about twitter and be willing to work themselves to death in the way he’s come to expect.

I think you're right about the whole "fresh startup" idea. Some of his comments around Twitter have suggested that he might be treating this as his road to being a trillionaire by owning the public square in the US.

"the brand image" of twitter, lol, go on

A lot of large companies have used twitter to announce some new product launch of marketing initiative. With the recent spate of fake blue checks like "Nintendo" posting Mario giving the middle finger or "Eli Lilly" posting insulin is now free or "Twitter Blue" announcing free twitter blue if you buy an NFT, I imagine many are rethinking this going forward.

> "Twitter Blue" announcing free twitter blue if you buy an NFT

To be fair. This happened with Musk’s (and others) real account too.


It's still pretty much the go to place for journalists to mine quotes and sentiment from "normal people".

I'm addition, it remains a significant platform for informal celebrity and corporate announcements.

People in tech are pretty bearish about Twitter these days (myself included), but there are clearly a significant number of people who believe otherwise.

Apparently quite a few HNers think very highly of Twitter...

I haven't came across any one that thought most of Twitter was good. It's a cesspool of cancel culture and hatred.

Really depends on how you use it, who you follow, and other things. It’s actually probably less of a cesspool than most social media sites.

You don't have to follow "most of Twitter". There are countless awesome communities for almost any given subject.

There is room for both to be true: most of Twitter (content) is a cesspool, and yet it still is great place id you take care to curate the accounts you follow.

I think Musk wants a do-over for X.com. Whatever that means. Some kind of everything app.

If true, he bought Twitter for the branding, rather than build a new brand. If true, Twitter is about to get an extreme makeover.

$44b seems ridiculous to me. But what do I know? I've never understood the point of Twitter. Whatsapp, a mere chat app, sold for $16b. And Musk builds rockets and launched the EV auto market and...


I highly recommend Jill Lepore's podcast about Musk called The Evening Rocket.


"Elon Musk’s visions of the future all stem from the same place: the science-fiction he grew up on. To understand where Musk wants to take the rest of us – with his electric cars, his rockets to Mars, his meme stocks, and tunnels deep beneath the earth — Harvard professor and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore looks at those science fiction stories and helps us understand what he’s Musk missed about them.

The Evening Rocket explores Musk’s strange new kind of extravagant, extreme capitalism — call it Muskism — where stock prices are driven by earnings, and also by fantasies."

Institutional knowledge is over-rated. Someone said "the graveyards are full of indispensable men."

> He also wants to recreate the place per his own vision, so it makes sense to get rid of as many people carrying the previous culture as you can and then start hiring as necessary with the kind of people you want.

Twitter isn't going to have the same "pull" as organizations like Tesla or SpaceX where you can attract top-shelf talent by virtue of working on some of the most interesting problems. Twitter is... Twitter. It's Adtech + SaaS. I'm not saying this is boring or easy - it's not, it has tons of challenging problems... but how is Twitter under Musk more appealing to engineers than Twitter under any of its previous CEOs?

> under Musk

There it is. There’s enough fanboys around that he doesn’t have to worry about butts to put in seats.

Twitter under Musk would presumably have less bloat, a lot faster decisions, I'm assuming an easy escalation path that doesn't have to go through multiple layers of management, and you can be confident none of your peers are coasting.

Hiring is expensive, and people can take months to get up to speed on a new role. If too many people quit, he'll have simply wasted money and time.

I've joined two teams where everyone previously on the team quit (plenty of openings). There was indeed a benefit to fresh eyes on things, but those projects took months to get back up to speed.

> Hiring is expensive, and people can take months to get up to speed on a new role. If too many people quit, he'll have simply wasted money and time.

Yes, he's probably screwed either way. Sucks that others are getting screwed as a result of his choices.

And how do you find "the people carrying the previous culture" and other deadwood?

You have to observe them over several weeks/months. But Elon didn't do this at all. He is about as likely to have fired the best people as the worst people.

The worst people will never leave on their own.

Unless they're required to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week?

Even then. If you are a low performer, in this market, that’s managed to survive to this point? It’s head down, cover your backside, sacrifice the person next to you if you must, and hope you make it through… People in survival mode will do anything to keep on surviving.

In crumbling organisations, being willing to just stubbornly stay can even give underperforming people a shot at promotions they'd be unlikely ever get otherwise by virtue of becoming the most senior persons in teams with gaps above them.

Why not survive at another job that doesn’t send you on a death march?

The market is fine. There are more job seats than pre Covid.

The only people he needs to not fire are ones running infrastructure. Rest can be replaced easily.

Except he has fired exactly those. Like the entire information security team. Giving Twitter your payment/CC info now is likely a very bad idea ...

>He has to strip down the car fast while somehow also keeping it road-worthy and operational.

But this is my point. By doing it in this order he is risking continued operation of Twitter because he no longer can ensure Twitter can either properly staff business critical teams or retain critical institutional knowledge for how to run the company. He is jeopardizing the continued viability of a $44b investment to save maybe a few hundred million max.

> He is jeopardizing the continued viability of a $44b investment to save maybe a few hundred million max.

Both he and the market know that he paid too much for Twitter. It isn't worth $44B, but he needs to make it lean enough to start throwing off enough cash to pay back the loans he took to buy it at that price.

Since it is very hard to increase revenue (especially when he is allowing more advertiser-repellent content), he is trying to dramatically cut costs while trying to increase non advertising revenue.

He can't go back to the banks and the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and explain to them that he needs a deferment so he can invest in more efficient SRE and content moderation. He has to sleep in the bed he made, which means show his creditors the money.

Counterparty risk. Do you have think the banks and Saudis want $1B this year and $0 after when Twitter collapses, or $0 this year and $500M in future years?

Do you Elon wants the banks to foreclose and seize Twitter? Or have to sell TSLA?

> Do you Elon wants the banks to foreclose and seize Twitter? Or have to sell TSLA?

I don't think he wants to sell TSLA to pay debts but might have to.

> He has to strip down the car fast

You know what we call a vehicle thats undergoing Rapid Disassembly? An Explosion.

Hah. Funny! But I do think you're on to something.

Seems like he's trying to speed run employees jumping ship - I'm surprised he didn't try these tactics for a month or two before firing a bunch of people and paying severance.

He actually did,

June 16, 2022:

Elon Musk plans to use remote work as a reward at Twitter—but only for ‘exceptional’ employees


That's not trying the tactic though, that's just saying an idea he has, which with Elon is the sort of thing that happens every 2 minutes and I doubt anyone takes seriously.

> He's got huge debt and declining revenue - both of his own making

While I think he has done a huge amount to scare away advertisers, I expect the ad industry as a whole is going to be seeing reduced profits for the next couple of years.

Making a bunch of unpopular changes and waiting a month still seems more prudent. The people most likely carrying that culture are gonna be the ones most inclined to leave over changes, and if they are leaving on their own that would decrease costs associated with benefits or the increase to the unemployment tax that comes with layoffs

Changes to terms of employment make employees who quit because of them eligible to collect unemployment. It's one of the few reasons workers are eligible for unemployment when they voluntarily quit.

Yea was just reading how this likely prompted facebooks giving the November vest to their laid off employees was likely driven by similar labor protection laws. After having worked for a Georgia headquartered company for 2 years I don’t think I can work for a company outside a blue state again. The worker protections, minimal as they are in the US, kicked in multiple times as the company kept trying to fuck us over

Agreed, I've gotten some really great offers out in Texas but I'm not willing to live somewhere that gives employers and asset owners carte blanche to do what they want and everyone else can just go screw themselves.

I'm currently hearing some horror stories from friends who did take similar offers and were enticed by the relatively lower cost of living. Turns out there are reasons it's lower.

> He also wants to recreate the place per his own vision

That's a bold assumption -- that there is a vision

> both of his own making

Really? I was under the impression that Twitter was hemorrhaging money.

Twitter was losing money but for years they would have been profitable except they were handing out executive stock compensation like they were Facebook.

That wasn’t great but there was an obvious path to profitability. Musk just added somewhat over a billion in new annual debt servicing so it went from “stop going to nightclubs every day” to “sell the furniture”.

To which he added $1B a year in liabilities.

I made a half-joke here on HN a few months ago that Musk was buying Twitter just to destroy it for the lols.

Maybe everyone's wasting their time with rational economic analysis, trying to figure out a pretty simple guy with an obscene pile of fuck-you money and an axe to grind.

Everyone is looking at it too short term. Twitter isn’t going to disappear and he has shown a willingness to ride through rough economic times to reach his vision.

Social Media is how people interact with the world now, most info we receive is filtered through it in some form. In the last 10 or so years the idea that these platforms need tight moderation to control what and who is speaking on them has become ubiquitous. I think his main gamble is that the future of social media does not involve automated moderation and tight content restrictions, but a more open platform and he is gonna use twitter to play that bet out. It isn’t a horrible bet.

> Twitter isn’t going to disappear

You seem more confident than Musk is reported to have been in today's sudden all-hands meeting; what do you know that Musk doesn’t?

EDIT: see, e.g., https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-11-10/musk-tell...

He has a pattern where attempts to create false peril in an effort to motivate people. Which is maybe telling about his managerial style that he relays on fear rather than inspiration.

How is warning that the company can't afford losses forever a false peril? It's just saying out loud what everybody knows anyway.

Interesting observation. Spirit of our age? Terror management rather than bringing out the best we can be on a wave of optimism?

Bankruptcy isn't always a bad thing. It can be a good thing, depending on how you use it.

People who do not understand bankruptcy laws often perpetuate wrong myths. Bankruptcy is just a legal insolvency mechanism to stave off problematic creditors, while you find way to handle assets against the liabilities of the company. A bankruptcy isn't always the end of the world, and smart businessmen know this.

Musk has a ton of people advising him on legal issues. It's possible that he's making the wrong business moves, but the fact that he's publicly seeing ahead at the possibility of bankruptcy, tells us that he's navigating the waters cognisant of avoiding it rather than to ensure the outcome arrives.

Is that why Twitter is suspending accounts that tweet things that hurt Musk's feelings? That sounds like tight content restrictions to me.

Hurt his feelings or impersonating him. I've seen him replying to people insulting him and not suspending them.

There's plenty of examples of Twitter removing and/or suspending content that Musk doesn't like[1][2].

[1] https://i.redd.it/5hgt89c599y91.jpg

[2] https://external-preview.redd.it/LvQhCbGd3mXlAjyj0GktvQaAJ_3...

So two? What an epidemic.

2 is enough to show a pattern that never existed before. Twitter now has a king and if you insult him and it hurts him, you will be restricted or banned.


In a sea of a 500,000,000 tweets...

...a day...

Are you familiar with the term statistically insignificant?

If that is how we judge bad behavior, basically Elon Musk could block 100,000 tweets per day because he doesn't like them and it still would be statistically insignificant, and thus it wouldn't matter? Your logic is incredibly porous, but I think you know that and you don't care.

Why are you assuming that I posted an exhaustive list?

Your response to receipts is this?

> Twitter isn’t going to disappear

Isn't it? Ok, maybe Musk has a magic wand that he can use to make it profitable (which it has been for only two out of the last 12 years), or is willing to subsidize it indefinitely out of his deep pockets... but I wouldn't bet on it.

> Twitter isn’t going to disappear

Digg, Myspace, Google+.

They don't have to disappear but they can fade away into irrelevance.

It’s not a new idea though, having a completely open platform. It quickly devolves into cp, racism and general abstract violence. We’ve learned this lesson already at this point.

Obviously not completely open. Open in the sense of ideas and viewpoints, not like an open market for illegal activity. More like one where Trump wouldn't be banned.

Is that a good or bad thing? I don't know, in an ideal world humans could self-regulate and make good decisions about how they use information. The status quo is that we cannot control ourselves, and need to have sophisticated controls that filter out objectionable info.

He has runway as long as he is able to fund it, so there’s an upper bound.

This is important, he can fund it but not forever. He’s owned it what 2 weeks now? In the current market I’m lucky if I can order paint for a small building and have it arrive in 2 weeks - these days it takes more like 3-6 months. He appears to be moving at lightning speed with these changes. The thing is, when you are moving 10 times as fast as normal you can trip up 10 times as much and still arrive on time.

Musk loves Twitter. You don’t have to point to the billions he spent on it, you can just see that he loves using it. He might want to change it, might destroy it accidentally in the process (like a kid who hugged their beloved pet too hard), but he didn’t set out to destroy it.

I made this comment to a friend recently that I don't think enough people are considering that he might actually be mad enough to have spent $44B to destroy a toxic business.

The hole in that theory is that by all appearances, Elon Musk really, really likes using Twitter. I don't think he wants to kill it. I think the madness is two-fold:

(1) he approached this with a "pfft, I could run that business better than the bozos in charge" attitude -- it's not as if Twitter has been known for great management up to this point, right? -- but never actually came up with a plan beyond "not what they've been doing." After he initially made the offer, he spent all the time he should have been formulating business plans trying to get out of the deal instead. Then it got forced on him, and he's had to scramble.

(2) Elon has millions of people who treat him as a combination of Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and Tony Stark, and bluntly, I think he's started believing his own press to the point where he just figures, "Why, yes, I am a super genius who can do anything, and anyone who contradicts me is clearly not worth listening to."

I would be very surprised if Twitter recovers from what Elon Musk, Super Genius is doing to it; the question is whether Elon Musk is going to recover from it. The best case is that this will be his Steve Jobs Exiled From Apple moment; the worst case is that he becomes Howard Hughes.

That second point is something I think we see a lot in widely-praised successful people. I think this is also what lead George Lucas to make the Star Wars prequels on his own, instead of having others refine his characters, story and dialogue like he did with the originals.

I can't help but think about something I learned in school about the Roman Empire: when generals returned to Rome after a military conquest, they were paraded around the city on a chariot with everybody cheering him. But behind him on the chariot was someone constantly whispering in his ear: "You are only mortal". I think when everybody constantly heaps praise on you, it's tempting to start to believe that you are a god, a genius, or otherwise high above everybody else. Having people around you who keep you grounded is probably good for your sanity.

> The best case is that this will be his Steve Jobs Exiled From Apple moment

Didn't Steve Jobs return to this company when it was bleeding money, cut 4000 employees as his first move and turned it into a cash cow ?

Despite recent stories making this claim, no, not exactly. The 4,100 jobs that were cut in 1997 -- 2,700 full-time and the rest contract and part-time -- came while Gil Amelio was still CEO, and there's a bit of revisionism in attributing it just to Steve Jobs having been brought on as an advisor. Apple had already laid off 2,800 people in 1996 and the cuts in 1997 were widely expected by analysts. They were made with Apple's existing executive team intact and were executed in a considered, directed fashion. I do not think anyone can make a credible claim that Musk's approach so far could be described as considered and directed.

> destroy a toxic business

Twitter is more toxic under musk..

It's been barely a week he's at the helm and you came to that conclusion? I'm indifferent about Musk, but that's absurd.

It doesn't come from me, it comes from people who care about brand image.

Who are these people?

No idea who that person is, why they're important and how this proves that Twitter became more toxic in just two weeks of Musk compared to 20 years of the previous management. Care to enlighten me?

That person is president and COO of MMA global, huge marketing firm, given the fact that he was in a call with Elon, along with that class of people regarding brand safety; he is an important person and his comments describe the situation. He mentioned that their concerns are brand safety and moderation, and that’s why people are pulling out.

For them to pull out it seems that associating with twitter harms their image, and that’s - according to them - related to moderation.

As for “proof” that twitter is more toxic;

> In the week leading up to Musk's acquisition, researchers said there were no more than 84 hostile tweets an hour on the platform. But from midnight on October 28 – the day Musk took ownership – to noon the next day, there were 4,778 hate-filled tweets. That accounts for more than 398 tweets an hour, about 4.7 times higher than the seven-day average leading up to that day. The potential reach for those tweets was more than 3 million, researchers found.

> Researchers also said there was an increase in negative sentiment, with more than 67% of the tweets sent after Musk's takeover having a negative tone.


What brand image? A bunch of random people posting ridiculous things one massive flame war?

See the parallel chain.

So much more toxic, 15 million people joined ...In a week.

Spending $44B to prevent the endless terrible hot takes of the Twitterati from polarizing the world to the point where the rest of his stash becomes worthless. I like it.

He's doing his own fair share of polarization too.

"Ukraine should just let Russia keep what they've got now, and agree to their demands and wrap this all up."

Right? They should led the blood bath continue until we're tossing nukes at each other!

Letting Russia do whatever they want is arguably not a great strategy towards stopping proliferation, since it sends the message that you're free to do as you please if you have nukes.

Russia should just withdraw and stop invading its neighbours.

Would we do the same?

I would. But it's true, aggressors rarely listen to reason. They care about strength and about cost. The US didn't withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan because it was the right thing to do, but because it was too expensive and there wasn't anything to gain. Russia may also withdraw once it becomes undeniable to them that there's no winning this and it's too expensive to continue trying.

There's lots of people arguing for peace talks, and I'd love for that to work, but it won't work if Putin isn't interested in peace, and by all appearances, he isn't. He's made pretty clear that he isn't. The only alternative is to make is aggression unsuccessful.

Then the only alternative is nuclear war.

That's a bit extreme. I'd prefer something in between: stopping Putin but without escalating to nuclear war. Pretty much what's going on right now. It's not great, but it's the least bad option; preferable to nuclear war or genocide.

It is extreme. Remember the news about the 2 people killed in Poland from stray missile(s)? Commentators and the Ukraine Government were quick to assess this missle was launched by Russia while the USA investigated. Yesterday the news was that the USA found that the missile was not actually launched by Russia. But the west could have made hay about it and decided those two farmers that died would have been plenty justification for a nuclear war. Lots of ordinary people wanted it.

I prayed that, that outcome would not happen.

That's a very funny spin to still make Elon look good in all this.

Not for the lols, I dont care how rich you are losing 44b hurts. But he is clearly out of his depth.

> Not for the lols, I don't care how rich you are losing 44b hurts.

A band named KLF burned a million quid back in the mid 90s. It was ostensibly "performance art" [1].

In 2000 formative internet commerce pioneer Josh Harris blew about 80 million in a few weeks on an "arts project". He is the subject of Ondi Timoner's 2009 documentary "We Live in Public" [2] He described it as "liberating" and said that other dot-com millionaires had "wasted their money" and didn't "know how to live".

Maybe Elon fancies himself as an artist?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K_Foundation_Burn_a_Million_Qu...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Live_in_Public

Is it true that $13bn came in the form of loans and that those loans are secured by Twitter, not Musk or any entity he'd personally be responsible for?

If so, how does that work?

If the business under new ownership turns a profit their bankers make money. If the business folds or is not turned around then the loans sour but the private equity owner also loses their money. In bankruptcy bond holders get paid before shareholders.

Just google LBO, plenty of site explain that better than me

I think his ego is too massive for that. The man bristles at the slightest criticism. Destroying Twitter, even intentionally, will provide enough fodder to his critics that I don't think he'd be able to actually suck it up and follow through.

Watch Musks interview with Ron Baron instead of reading second hand quality hack articles if you want to understand the scale of his plans for twitter.

the scale of his plans so far includes slashing Twitter Blue prices from $20 to $8 on a whim after talking to Stephen King, a horror author.

yesterday, he also killed a feature that was introduced the day before, because MKBHD, a Youtuber criticized it.


“Bankruptcy is a possibility”

He wants to turn it into Wechat-like platform.

What's the axe he's grinding?

At first this was my thinking as well, but then towards the end of the article, the author mentions an "all hands meeting" he had with employees before completing the acquisition, and apparently he said in that occasion that he was against remote work.

Having said that, remote work is up there with compensation in my book, taking it away is just as likely[1] as a salary cut to make leave the company.

[1] i.e. almost guaranteed

Getting rid of remote work is an excellent way to chase away your best employees while retaining people with nowhere to go.

the correlation in my experience is if anything the other way around. The best and most productive employees tend to be involved and in-person is still the best way to get things done and actually exchange ideas. This is the one thing Musk is 100% right about, remote work is awful for productivity and it's most popular among the "least amount of effort" crowd. It's also why almost any major tech company after covid is trying to scale remote work back again.

You need to include the commuting time into the productivity calculation. If a person has to commute 1 hour for 200 days a year while working for 40 years, this would result in 8,000 hours of work-related unproductivity during a life, which is equivalent to 5 full years of work. This is the benchmark that you first have to surpass. In other words: such a person needs to be on average 12.5 percent more productive on site than at home to break even.

What companies pay for commuting?

>The best and most productive employees tend to be involved and in-person is still the best way to get things done and actually exchange ideas.

I'm having a hard time believing this. The people in my company who want to end remote work were the people that needed it for a social output. Nothing as shown that productivity suffered during the pandemic due to remote work.

>This is the one thing Musk is 100% right about,

Elon Musk is a 100% remote worker.

>t's also why almost any major tech company after covid is trying to scale remote work back again.

Hard disagree, most companies want people back in the office because they are run by middle managers who have spent their careers climbing the ladder by putting in face time and building relationships. Remote work is a huge detriment to that style of career advancement. They basically want everyone back in the office so they, the middle managers, can feel productive.

There is a reason they focus on abstract concepts like water cooler conversations rather than hard data. The data says there isn't a problem

I agree.

I feel like any discussion around remote work often involves comments that take personal anecdotal evidence and applies it to all remote work.

I do agree with losing social aspects. That being said, it's helped me realize that I should focus on being social OUTSIDE of work, rather than relying on work to be social.

That entirely depends on type of work. We do 1-2 days on site a week and it works well, we can get all of the management and coordination done then then just code away in peace without interruption. But that's programming, some jobs are less dependent on communication, some are more.

You do realize that doing something with the "least amount of effort" is the definition of productivity?

Reminds me of the old Bill Gates quote where he says "I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."

In person is the best way for professional meeting attendees to appear to be contributing while simultaneously wasting the time of the people who actually get things done.

> This is the one thing Musk is 100% right about, remote work is awful for productivity

Banning remote work famously turned Yahoo! around and eventually led to a sale of the company.

(Not mentioned here: the direction the company turned in, or the sale price)

Ah yes, these companies 100% want to reduce remote work due to productivity issues and not because they want to exert power over there employees. Because, as we all know, there's absolutely no way to measure productivity than by counting how many hours they spend at a physical location.

Employers should be required to pay for employees' entire commuting costs. That would make them think extra about how much they really need people on-site.

Changes in terms of employment, like going from WFH to mandatory in-office, makes employees eligible to collect unemployment should they choose to quit. It's one of the few reasons you can collect unemployment after voluntarily quitting.

Such a move can backfire, and more people can quit than you planned on laying off, and that can make your UI liabilities larger than they would have been with just a layoff.

This is the part you are overthinking: "Wouldn't it make the most sense..."

It would makes sense to hire a CEO. It would make sense to plan a layoff so you don't have to beg key people to return, etc. Musk frames this as making mistakes while working fast.

In this case it will push more people to leave. There is probably intent, if not exactly thought and planning behind this because Really Bad Things have not happened yet.

An indication that might change is that the CISO, security chief, and privacy chief resigned together, possibly with advice of counsel re the two FTC consent decrees.

It's funny how people will argue "never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence" to excuse an institution or individual they like, but here people are bending over backwards to justify Musk's behaviour at Twitter as the performance of an evil genius playing a game that we're too subtle to understand, rather than those of a bully fool who is burning his life down thanks, apparently, to a crippling social media addiction and an inability to get over his ex.

It's funny how people will argue "never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence" ...

... but here people are bending over backwards to justify Musk's behaviour ...

My issue with arguments like these is that these are collective opinions held by different segments of people, not some nebulous singular person whose opinion can be safely discarded because of contradictory statements.

Maybe you don’t remember the 80s but this is how pretty much every hostile takeover went down. Leveraged buyout > massive layoffs and restructuring > change in business model and the next thing we’ll likely see is some form of selling off assets or divisions, not sure what those would be in Twitter’s case but it won’t be a surprise if they come up with something.

I do, in fact, remember the 80s. And the point of asset stripping in that era was that the targets were generally companies with good fundamentals in parts, which had either merged or grown in ways that resulted in those good components propping up losing components, which was what allowed the asset strippers to make their money via the process described. The successful asset strippers also had generally done a lot of analysis before they made their aquisition.

What detailed analysis did Musk do? A bunch of DMs with Jason Calcinis pulling numbers out of his arse? What's the core profitable business that Twitter has that is encumbered by unprofitable components?

If I wanted to look at a case for an asset stripping target in social media, I'd probably look at something more like Facebook, where there's a case that unrolling their rats' nest of aquisitions like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus could result in some valuable spin-offs: for example, if WhatsApp went back to a stripped-down standalone company with a small fee it would probably be quite profitable, as it had been before being Facebooked. But Twitter is twitter. That's it.

The only thing I see with this is an echo of when this site's owners sacked Musk for fucking up PayPal with deranged, incoherent edicts. The difference is that no-one can sack Musk to save Twitter from him.

Yes, a lot of people remember the asset stripping wave in the 1980s, but not the merger wave of the 1960s. At that time, it was fashionable to assume that the core expertise of "management" could be transferred to pretty much any field, and so you had these bizarre conglomerations of businesses. It turned out that "management" wasn't so transferable, resulting in one big company having a few profitable ventures that were subsidizing unprofitable ventures, and the 1980s saw a lot of those conglomerates split apart (and they probably took it too far in the other direction).

At some point, we need a history of post-war corporate capitalism, because it sure seems like it is driven by one fad piled atop another fad.

There were a lot of awful LBOs, but Elon may take the cake. Even the worst LBOs had a business case, even if in terms of asset stripping, outsourcing, channel stuffing, and other aggressive financial engineering.

When Elon bought it Twitter had no free cash flow, existing long term debt, no assets to sell, etc. It's an enormous LBO with strange characteristics done by a guy with no LBO experience, advised by Jason Calacanis and David Sacks.

This will be a b-school case study classic.

more like a cult classic. professors will not spend much time on it because there isn't much students can get out of it other than a good laugh.

Most of the people judging Musk are unaccomplished 20-somethings with massive inferiority complexes, or mercurial line workers who loved Musk until he publicly rejected the nonsense of their precious political cult, I mean party.

You should probably seek professional help about that projection problem you have.

How original a thought...

It would make sense not to base your offer price on a weed joke…

You are giving Musk too much credit. He’s a classic control freak and micromanager, and right now he’s trying to run twitter like 6 person start-up that running low on funds.

Truth is he probably wanted to eliminate even more staff than he did. It seems like he wants to get the smallest possible team that can keep the core product of twitter running, platform for posting small content blocks.

He fired teams that he didn't believe were core to to that strategy and removed WFH. What he is left with, theoretically, is a hardcore group of people dedicated to the cause and willing to put with anything he might do.

This this this. Musk isn't trying to win a popularity contest. He's trying to narrow staff down to that 10% that can do 80% and build back from there. A very cutthroat capitalist approach, but was anyone expecting anything else from the guy who ordered TSLA employees back into factories during covid?

seems like that effort could be directed elsewhere considering where Tesla's stock price is currently.

But it s not a neutral decision. It is likely you are left with the employees who are willing to tolerate a worse lifestyle for the paycheck, and you are letting go employees who are smart enough to prefer to have more control of their lives.

I guess expecting an employee to do actual work could ruin some ones lifestyle. I've been in a couple of companies now where only a few people "work" and the rest do "other stuff", I would have been happy in both those for someone like Musk to take over.

Musk is his own worst enemy and can be a douche a lot of the time but he doesn't deserve this toxic personal shit for trying to sort out the mess. Also as I remember once he saw past the facade of twitter he tried to back out and it was the twitter board of management that insisted he buy.

> I guess expecting an employee to do actual work could ruin some ones lifestyle. I've been in a couple of companies now where only a few people "work" and the rest do "other stuff", I would have been happy in both those for someone like Musk to take over.

I can sympathise with this, but that's if anything anticorrelated with coming into the office - the people who work the least are those who make the most effort at being seen.

> the people who work the least are those who make the most effort at being seen

Not necessarily, but there’s certainly something to the unreasonable effectiveness of ‘just showing up’.

Not my experience at all. Presenteeism is probably the biggest drag on productivity going.

Oh, no, I mean from a career advancement perspective. Even if your contribution is a net negative you still look like you are at least working hard.

> I guess expecting an employee to do actual work could ruin some ones lifestyle. I've been in a couple of companies now where only a few people "work" and the rest do "other stuff", I would have been happy in both those for someone like Musk to take over.

What makes you think Musk successfully selected the best people to stay? How could he even, in that short amount of time? That Twitter had to bring fired people back because it turned out that they were essential after all, indicates the opposite.

> Also as I remember once he saw past the facade of twitter he tried to back out and it was the twitter board of management that insisted he buy.

You remember wrong. It was Musk who insisted he wanted to buy, offered a ridiculously high price, and waived due diligence. The board didn't want to sell, initially resisted, but had to agree to Musk's high offer because they represent the shareholders and have to act in their best interest.

Only after the deal was done did Musk want to back out. That's not how it works. There's plenty of opportunity to due diligence and some serious thinking before you sign a big deal like that. Smart business people, or even normal business people actually, take advantage of that. Musk didn't, and he has only himself to blame.

A long standing maneuver that companies have is the "your job is now in Houston" when you live in New York. This has an interesting side effect of basically removing anyone from your company who is old enough to have a family with kids in school, wife working etc. Basically it "legally" removes the older more expensive employees. RTO will remove people also like you said, but I wonder what demographic?

Moving a person's office of employment outside of what would be considered a reasonable commute is treated as a constructive dismissal in the U.S. It is generally legal, because is treated as a normal termination by the employer (basically: the employee's "current" job is being terminated and the employer is offering them a "new" job in a new location).

This means, among other things, that the employee qualifies for unemployment, the employer's unemployment insurance account will get dinged, etc.

My understanding (I am not a lawyer, talk to one if you think you're subject to a situation like this) is that constructive dismissal is NOT legal, and that the whole reason this is a legal term is that this is one of the categories of job separation that falls under "wrongful termination" in most states, even those that are otherwise under an "at-will" employment regime.

In the particular case of Twitter, they announced in 2020 that they would allow "permanent" remote work, and reiterated this policy at least as late as March of this year [1]. If I'm correctly informed, the change in this policy was announced in an e-mail that was sent out on Wednesday, and was to be effective on Thursday, the following day.

It would seem to me that this is about as straightforward and well-documented a constructive dismissal fact pattern as you could conceive.

[1] https://thinkremote.com/twitter-to-open-offices-this-month-b...

I am a lawyer...

Constructive dismissal as a legal concept is relevant for purposes of determining whether the employee voluntary separated (i.e., quit) or was terminated by the company. This then determines the legal rights/obligations of the parties, including for example eligibility for unemployment, severance, etc.

Constructive dismissal is treated as a termination, meaning involuntary on the employee's behalf. Whether the constructive dismissal is legal depends on whether a termination in the same circumstances would be legal. Terminations are generally legal, so constructive dismissals are generally legal...

I agree that in this case the Twitter WFO policy is constructive dismissal. And elsewhere I have said this would fall under the WARN Act because it's clearly part of the mass terminations already announced early this week.

Ah, I see the error of my ways now. The post to which I was responding was indeed correct and this is not, per se, an illegal tactic if the worker did not belong to an otherwise protected class. Twitter just owes them the same legal benefits as if they had been laid off.

I stand corrected; thanks for setting me straight.

"constructive dismissal" is an action an employer takes which the employee can treat as equivalent to being laid off. Being laid off comes with various benefits, like eligibility for unemployment, and is included in specific laws, like IIRC in California there has to be a notice period before laying off X people in the same month. "Constructive dismissal" just means cutting everybody's salary in half, reducing hours, etc counts as you being laid off if you choose to leave at that time, rather than you resigning. Resigning does not come with unemployment or those other protections.

Here's CA's stance, and consider that CA is probably going to be the most protective state in the US when it comes to these things. Other states with decent labor protection mostly copied our laws.


My take:

The TL;DR is that it's just equivalent to getting fired. If you can prove you got shuffled out the door via constructive dismissal for reasons it's illegal to fire people for, then it's illegal. If at-will would've applied anyway, it's just a jerk move. Mostly it means you still get unemployment and can still sue for wrongful termination, even though you technically resigned.

What I suspect might be more of an issue, at least in CA, is that our at-will law has a "good faith" clause that basically implies you can't fire someone for a reason that would broadly be considered unethical in the context of an employer-employee business relationship. The classic example is canning someone just before they get their commissions purely to save yourself of the cost of paying them. My guess is that's one reason why Facebook, for example, is giving all their employees the mid-November vest even if they got fired first.

Constructively dismissing someone out the door probably takes away a lot of argument that you were acting in good faith.

If they promised these people that they could work remote and they invested in property then get forced to move, I actually wonder if it could open up the company to promissory estoppel (i.e., I had a financial loss based on a reasonable promise you broke, and now I want to recover).

The times I've heard about that cause in the past were exactly for situations where you moved for a job, then the job was rescinded. At the very least, that angle probably wouldn't look great in court during a wrongful termination suit.

(IANAL either, but since I work in CA I try to stay reasonably informed of the laws that affect me.)

> Other states with decent labor protection mostly copied our laws.

CA is not special protecting employees. It’s an at-will state. About the only useful thing it has is banning non-competes.

First, you’re dangerously wrong.

We’re one of the few states with both implied-contract and bad-faith codified as explicit exceptions to at-will, and we’re significantly more likely to resolve in favor of the employee than in most states because we actually mean them.

The only question is whether naysayers (usually management or people parroting what management said) convince employees that we’re strictly at-will and have no options if terminated, when we are not and often most certainly do.

Do you think the corporate expense of going through motions of PIPs for a month—and risking quiet quitting or even disgruntled employee retaliation in the meantime—would be a thing if they didn’t have to cover their own butts or risk a lawsuit they’d actually conceivably lose?

In states without these protections they generally just fire you. And I’m not even going to get into the protected class aspect where CA has many nuances, and “no reason” becomes awfully tricky to defend if challenged by the vast majority of workers who do fall within one.

So yes, realistically an employer needs a reason to safely fire you in CA.

That’s almost always quietly recognized and accommodated at our level via either a reason or a significant payoff out the door in exchange for a waiver of liability. We can sue the crap out of them and quite feasibly win if they don’t.

It’s only at the lowest level jobs where this gets completely ignored. That’s largely because employers are confident the min-wage folks aren’t going to sue them, same reason poor people get illegal leases around here that never get challenged.

Second, I never actually said we had special protection in my original post.

I said we had (among) the best protections, and that we provide the model for most other protective laws of this type in the USA. And I said it in the context that we were the high water mark for protection and even then the OP’s conjecture wouldn’t necessarily fall under it.

Think that’s all easily verifiable on your part. Not sure what else you think you’re disputing there.


If you view every employee as interchangeable this makes sense. Clearly that isn't the case.

What ends up happening when you do things like this (ie to accelerate natural attrition) is the best people leave first. So you haven't really solved the problem. You may have made it worse.

Yes but he may be optimizing for the younger, unmarried with no kids employees he can manage like he wants. Remove remote work and this filters out the types that are less likely to put up with his demands and managerial style, expectations, etc.

Younger, unmarried, untalented fans with no alternative.

Maybe in reality, he didn't layoff as many people as he wanted to? The rest will fire themselves...

why? everyone has PTO, and nobody is required to do all-nighters. If they want to, they can just go on vacation, wait it out and pick up severance when they get the chop.

yeah I guess the whole company should go on PTO...

From a Machiavellian (? I think) perspective, better to do the layoffs first and flood the job market with people before making other unpopular decisions that may drive people away. No idea if that was the plan but it makes sense.

(Even if the number cut doesn't amount to anything market moving, they probably share a lot of the same network, and it will definitely looks like a flood of job seekers in most twitter employees bubbles, and those of their immediate networks)

Hard to say! Because, look. Suppose you begin not with layoffs but with the announcement "everyone back in the office for 40h/wk", knowing that people will leave. At that point, you don't get to choose who will leave, and it won't necessarily be the less productive fraction of the employees.

To my understanding, he's only laid off teams that he doesn't think are important so far. I know everyone is talking about 50% layoffs, but from what I can see that hasn't actually happened yet, it's only confirmed in the sense that it will happen.

I'm happy to be proven wrong but I just don't see anything saying that, only teams that have been reduced by ~15% and other teams which have hardly been reduced at all

I know I’m stating the very obvious but this and the layoffs feel quite adversarial.

The vibe I get from Musk is that he doesn’t care about much more than the numbers and believes that a hard dictatorship is warranted in this situation.

The sudden one sided decisions backed by ultimatums give me the impression of lack of respect for his employees and downright abuse.

I don’t see how such a relationship can nurture a positive company culture or retain top talent.

Given that the best people might find new jobs faster than the worst, you might drive away the better half of your human resources. With the 'fire-first' approach, you have more control over who should leave (e.g. hiring managers).

I don't like it either, but I think that is part of the rational behind it.

I wonder if there is some sort of tax strategy Musk can implement if Twitter goes under? Might be more valuable dead than alive to him.

The Trump doctrine?

That seemed to be the plan since April per chats between Musk and Jason Calacanis [1]:

> Day zero

> Sharpen your blades boys

> 2 day a week Office requirement = 20 % voluntary departures

[1] https://muskmessages.com/d/34.html

> Wouldn't it make the most sense to announce those decisions before making layoffs?

no. layoff from the bottom first. then push out more people as needed. bottom performers have fewer options and, on average, will be willing to put up with more than top performers

The layoffs and departures on their own are by my count possibly getting close to saving the company a billion $USD a year. That's the projected cost of the debt obligations he took on buying the company. EZPZ.

Great plan. Now you got rid of all the people with options and you've kept all the deadweight. Many companies do exactly this with voluntary redundancies!


Jason: Back of the envelope... Twitter revenue per employee: $5B rev / 8k employees = $625K rev per employee in 2021 Google revenue per employee: $257B rev2/ 135K employee2= $1.9M per employee in 2021 Apple revenue per employee: $365B rev / 154k employees= $2.37M per employee in fiscal 2021

Jason: Twitter revenue per employee if 3k instead of 8k: $5B rev/ 3k employees= $1.66m rev per employee in 2021 (more industry standard)

Elon: ["emphasized" above]

Elon: Insane potential for improvement

Jason: <Attachment-image/gif-lMG_2241.GIF>

Jason: Day zero

Jason: Sharpen your blades boys

Jason: 2 day a week Office requirement= 20% voluntary departures

Jason: https://twitter.com/jason/status/1515094823337832448?s=1O&t=...

Jason: I mean, the product road map is beyond obviously

Jason: Premium feature abound ... and twitter blue has exactly zero [unknown emoji]

Jason: What committee came up with the list of dog shit features in Blue?!? It's worth paying to turn it off

Elon: Yeah, what an insane piece of shit!

Jason: Maybe we don't talk twitter on twitter OM @

Elon: Was just thinking that haha

Twitter employees: “we’re going to vote to unionize”

When you have nothing left to lose, why wouldn’t you? It brings the federal government in to provide support, on their dime no less. Worst case is everyone leaves, the NLRB finds against Musk, and he has to give folks their jobs back while Twitter is burning.

“The strongest steel is forged in the fires of a dumpster.”

Steel is forged in a fire regardless. Forged steel hardens with cycles of annealing and stress. Which is exactly what layoffs are. Cycles of heating and cooling. Lol

Let me rephrase and see if I got this right:

> Repeated layoffs strengthen a workforce

It sounds to me like you may not have been through a layoff before...

Companies are not forged steel.

"Nothing left to lose", except that $160k-500k yearly compensation.

Increased work hours, forced relocation to one of the most expensive metros in the the world, and threat of imminent job loss probably make that yearly compensation less attractive in reality than it is on paper.

So like how business was done in 2019?

Oh, probably. But it's a great argument not to unionize, especially so because the employees are supposedly very valuable and will not have trouble finding a new company that will pay similar salaries and give them permanent WFH. Unions are for the masses, not the elite.

In a couple years society has gone from working 40 hours a week at the office to being forced to as "nothing else to lose"

When end of year hiring freezes and recession jitter layoffs end I don’t think well paid twitter employees will have much trouble finding better employment elsewhere.

Why do that as opposed to leaving and competing against him if they have a better idea of how to operate a social media site? His naysayers are convinced he's going to destroy it anyway.

This is not how you win in a rigged system against a billionaire who weaponizes his wealth against everyone who does not take a knee and flouts the law whenever they see fit.

The path to success is voting for decency over power, so I suppose we’ll agree to disagree. To unionize costs Twitter folks only their time and effort. The tools exists, just have to use them. This is what a hacker would do, isn’t it? Use the tools available instead of being goaded into some other mechanisms out of “pride”?



Twitter employees are in the top 1%. They're not poor factory workers. They also own the means of production; a computer.

Tech workers are the new factory workers. I’m unsure why you’re advocating so hard for tolerating abuse from the extremely wealthy (cult of personality?), but that is your right. Abuse need not be tolerated when labor regulations provide you leverage against it.

Yeah, nah. Most of them can easily find work elsewhere for as good compensation.

So could factory workers.

Let’s not be hyperbolic, it’s a ridiculously cushy job by comparison.

That it's cushy (it is!) does not change that it's not a capital position.

Your average tech worker makes company owners orders of magnitude more than your average factory worker, and are paid what they are because they can demand it. Business owners would pay less if they could. Why shouldn't tech workers, like any other worker, try to maximize their own lot in turn?

Let's compare the daily grind of a factory worker to that of an engineer at a place like Twitter (tech worker is really broad):


- Gets up early, leaves late

- Performs work that is rote down to a T

- Works extremely hard, physically

- On their feet for large parts of the day

- Must join (and pay to be in) a union for benefits and such

- Extremely fungable

- Paid at or around the US median


- Gets up early...if they want to. Gets out late...if they want to.

- Or they just pull up before your team's standup and peace out at 3pm

- Work on extremely creative tasks b/c software is creative; so much so that some have really cool blogs where they talk about the 0.01% elite engineering shit they do

- Work is extremely demanding mentally while you sit in >$1000 chairs and type on >$1000 standing desks

- Need the standing desk and occasional walk to force themselves to be mobile

- No union, but amazing benefits (see laid off Tweeps getting three months of pay)

- Generally not very fungable

- Paid several times above the US median, and that's before we consider their equity

TL;DR: Come on, dude.

Why are you trying to minimize this? I presume it is acceptable behavior as long as they are making more than you are?

Your fellow citizens do not deserve that kind of treatment, no human does.

If I compensate you accordingly, are you willing to accept sub-human treatment and an environment of constant fear and stress with no sense of accomplishment? Especially in the case of an eccentric billionaire playing financial mechanics with a vanity project?

If its OK because they make all the monies, I imagine it will be OK when it is your neighbors, the Blacks, Jews, LGBTQ+, Asians, dudes name Sally and your Mom's "Aunt Sylvie" from the Home who has all those amazing candies from Eastern Europe?

This is a shit-poor example of Capitalism, and scheming like this over a ** Br3ndN@me™ is the kind of other-over-there-shit that leads to unrest and aquatic tea parties.

Just base, craven, and completely unnecessary in all regards. I cannot imagine an eventuality that is worth the harm he's already caused.

Taking this risk at the absolute worst possible time is already f*cking up Tesla and SolarCity. Regardless of their scam-iness, having real impact.

It's not about compensation. It's about quality of work life.

Working as an engineer is literally one of the cushiest jobs you can get, and it's in super high demand, even now given the layoffs.

I think that it is insulting to factory workers to compare what we do with what they do.

I haven't done factory work, but from what I've read and seen, it's a _true_ grind.

A computer is not the means of production for Twitter. Twitter, the company, is in the business of producing ad impressions for the advertiser. They use Twitter, the platform to do that, so that's their means of production. A computer is just the tool to build and maintain the platform, not directly to produce value. (If Twitter were an IT consulting company, the computer would be a means of production for them.)

They're still workers. Unions aren't "for the poor".

Twitter employees certainly don't own Twitter's capital.

As an engineer I may not know how to run a better social media product. My skill in developing software doesn’t necessarily translate into successful business operator. But I sort of agree, if you’re top talent at twitter it’s time to leave.

in that case it's good remote work won't be happening there. it's hard for remote workers to get organized.

If employees managed to organize productivity and profits at every enterprise on earth remotely, you’re probably not right they can’t organize a union unless it’s in person. I’ll point out productivity declines with RTO and everyone acted like they didn’t understand why productivity declined.

All I can say is I’m excited to hire the best employees at twitter and let them work the way they work best.

before they can organize as workers, they need to have class consciousness, and actually working with other workers helps.

Do you think maybe people, who work on computers at a computerized social communication company, have some way to communicate?

yeah, we see all the time how class consciousness has developed on twitter: a thoroughly false, utterly counterproductive class consciousness.

it's not about being able to communicate, it's about being able to see yourself as a member of a class, with the same difficulties as the others, for the same reason, and with the ability to change things through collective action. so communist memes on the discord doesn't cut it.

just talking about things online isn't going to put anyone in the frame of mind to be willing to take a risk for anyone, and there is risk in trying to get a union started.

just talking online means you never reach people that aren't sure about forming or joining a union, but that could be convinced.

or to respond to a snarky quip with a snarky quip:

> Do you think maybe people, who work on computers at a computerized social communication company, have some way to communicate?

i guess that's why tech is overwhelmingly unionized.

Tech has been working out of offices since the beginning. Your argument that remote work prevents that beggars the actual reality of history. I will also bet you $20 most of the unionizing going on now is conducted online.

You just said that WFH is why they aren't unionized. They weren't always WFH, especially going back before 2010.

Not especially. "Hey what's your personal email/phone number?" "Here's an invite to this private slack we've been meeting up on."

there's really something to be said for a group of people literally working together. for instance, before you get the ball rolling you'd like to have an idea of the level of interest and commitment of your fellow workers. your private slack will be filled with people that want a union, this gives you no idea who may not want a union at all, or, more importantly, who's on the fence. you can't make a pitch to those people on your slack, because they have better things to do with their time. but if you're all at work anyway...

Pipe dreams

What is the source for this conversation?

And you know I'm ride or die brother - I'd jump on Ariana Grande for you

This is an incredible link...

>Day zero 2022-04-15 17:22:12 ( CDT )

>Sharpen your blades boys 2022-04-15 17:22:59 ( CDT )

>2 day a week Office requirement = 20 % voluntary departures


These people really don't understand the branding of Apple vs Twitter:

>Back of the envelope ... Twitter revenue per employee : $ 5B rev / 8k employees = $ 625K rev per employee in 2021 Google revenue per employee : $ 257B rev / 135K employee = $ 1.9M per employee in 2021 Apple revenue per employee : $ 365B rev / 154k employees = $ 2.37M per employee in fiscal 2021 2022-04-15 17:08:07 ( CDT )

>Twitter revenue per employee if 3k instead of 8k : $ 5B rev / 3k employees = $ 1.66m rev per employee in 2021 ( more industry standard )


hard to tell if this is sarcasm?!

>I will be universally beloved , since it is so easy to please everyone on twitter 2022-04-23 21:04:30 ( CDT )

>It feels like everyone wants the same exact thing , and they will be patient and understanding of any changes ... Twitter Stans are a reasonable , good faith bunch 2022-04-23 21:06:51 ( CDT )

>These dipshits spent a years on twitter blue to give people exactly .... Nothing they want !


The sycophantism is over 9k:

> Morgan Stanley and Jared think you are using our friendship not in a good way 2022-05-12 19:31:12 ( CDT )

>This makes it seem like I'm desperate . 2022-05-12 19:31:17 ( CDT )

>Please stop 2022-05-12 19:31:48 ( CDT )

>Only ever want to support you . 2022-05-12 19:37:49 ( CDT )

>Clearly you're not desperate - you have the worlds greatest investors voting in support of a deal you already have covered . you're overfunded . will quietly cancel it ... And to be clear , I'm not out actively soliciting folks . These are our exiting LPs not rondos . Sorry for any trouble 2022-05-12 19:55:14 ( CDT )

>Morgan Stanley and Jared are very upset 2022-05-12 19:55:55 ( CDT )

>Ugh 2022-05-12 19:58:44 ( CDT )

>SPVs are how everyone is doing there deals now ... Luke loved to SPVS etc 2022-05-12 19:59:13 ( CDT )

>Just trying to support you ... obviously . I reached out to Jared and sort it out . 2022-05-12 20:00:53 ( CDT )

>* moved 2022-05-12 20:01:54 ( CDT )

>Yes , I had to ask him to stop . 2022-05-12 20:06:45 ( CDT )

>Liked " Just trying to support you ... obviously . I reached out to Jared and sort it out . " 2022-05-12 22:49:00 ( CDT )

>Cleaned it up with Jared 2022-05-12 22:49:12 ( CDT )

>Liked " Cleaned it up with Jared " 2022-05-12 22:49:58 ( CDT )

>I get where he is coming from .... Candidly , This deal has just captures the worlds imagination in an unimaginable way . It's bonkers .... 2022-05-12 22:51:42 ( CDT )

>And you know I'm ride or die brother - I'd jump on a grande for you 2022-05-12 22:51:49 ( CDT )

>Loved " And you know I'm ride or die brother - I'd jump on a grande for you "

It took me way to long to see that Like " ... " meant the emote on the message.

Part of the depositions for the court case. Dan luu put them on his site.

>This is a scan/OCR of Exhibits H and J from the Twitter v. Musk case, with some of the conversations de-interleaved and of course converted from a fuzzy scan to text to make for easier reading.


No, you're obviously wrong. Firing people first lets one get rid of the underperformes, while announcing the unpopular decisions first gets rid of the overperformers.

I think you have it backwards. This is how you accomplish a 75% reduction while only having to lay off (and pay severance for) 50%! Musk again playing 4d chess.

No, you have it backwards. If you wanted 75% reduction while only having to lay off 50%, you make the unpopular decision _first_, and then the lay offs.

Indeed, that means you only have to pay 25% while achieving a 75% reduction. Though it's hard to believe there's a game plan here.

However, I have a suspicion that there is a certain type of person with low self esteem and high intelligence that will respond very well to being treated this badly.

Forcing people who were told they can work fully remote in their employment agreement to work in the office is treated as a constructive dismissal in the U.S.

As this constructive dismissal is clearly part of the mass layoffs, they would also be subject to the 60 days notice under the WARN Act (or 60 days pay to waive notice).

“Is clearly” is doing a lot of work here, and I suspect Twitter’s lawyers don’t share your investment in it.

One of Twitter's lawyers literally stated in a company-wide communication this morning that Twitter employees have the right to work from home, regardless of what Elon said in his email.

Elon announced the policy with the intent to be able to fire employees who refused to come in to the office. However, because WFH is part of employee contracts, enforcing a WFO policy would constitute a constructive dismissal if actually enforced by Twitter. Meaning, not for cause, severance likely required under WARN Act, etc.

Then why did Twitter's top lawyers just quit? You're being optimistic in expecting Twitter's legal team were even told about this plan in advance, considering HR wasn't.

You confusing 4d chess with Candyland.

4D chess? he doesn't have the self control, too busy haring off tilting at windmills to launch his damned spaceship

In the absence of Russian rockets, how do you suppose the USA launch astronauts to the iss or fly satellites?

Hope can't achieve orbital velocity.

I think you misunderstand me - I want him to finish his big rocket and start doing wonderful stuff with it, I think his ill conceived twitter adventure is tilting at windmills that must be taking his eyes of the real prize

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