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Twitter has fired more software engineers (twitter.com/gergelyorosz)
188 points by r721 on Nov 24, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 371 comments



I’m curious about “not satisfactory” standards and how they are evaluated. I’ve met many earnest engineers and architects who were trying to do good and ended up making stuff worse by creating conformant code that still sucked.

I’ve met many more “witch-hunt” reviews that were just a reason to thin the company to please VC or shareholders.

The article/tweet doesn’t mention it, but I assume they have the same severance package of a few months as the rest. If so, it could be a lot worse


The article/tweet doesn’t mention it, but I assume they have the same severance package of a few months as the rest. If so, it could be a lot worse

Yeah well not exactly. From the thread:

Those fired got 4 weeks severance, by the way. A slap in the face, given that if they chose to not click "yes" to stay just a week ago, they would have gotten 3 months.

They might have believed in Twitter 2.0, but still got a worse deal than those who chose to simply leave.

The performance warning email closes with this line:

"Please use this opportunity to restore our confidence and demonstrate your contributions to the team and company."

It should be Twitter 2.0 that needs to restore confidence with employees.

Happy Thanksgiving.

It is already worse. And just to top it off, management wants people to make efforts to regain their leaders' confidence in them. That's vaguely Orwellian.


On anything vaguely Elon related I've learned to ignore high-frequency reporting. It's all about creating instant disgust. Who knows what we we'll eventually find out; my guess is that it's more likely everyone gets similar longish severance.

(Or pseudo-severance, for countries and states with certain regulations, to ensure actual legal compliance even among the public perception of everything happening instantly without regard to sources of delay.)


> On anything vaguely Elon related I've learned to ignore high-frequency reporting.

True, but not for the reasons you’re implying. Those reporting are accurate Elon is doing these things, but Elon is impulsive, and gets reined in often, sometimes by the few adults in the room, sometimes by the legal system.

So yes, these employees will most likely get their legal severance payments… after a protracted legal case that ends 24 months from now.

This doesn’t change the fact that Elon may not be the best manager or person in the world.


It does mention it. 4 weeks severance. The people who decided not to sign up for "hardcore Twitter" got 3 months.


So, punish the true believers? Yep, this can only end well.


Or the thinking went "Wow, these guys really signed that thing?! They must be desperate to keep this job, if they would be any good they would have gotten the hell out, let's take another look at their code!". By now the only thing stopping me from being convinced that Elon intentionally wants to drive Twitter into the ground is Hanlon's razor...


On a separate note, thanks for teaching me that there is more razor than Occam's!


Hanlon’s razor neglects the fact that there are people in the world that are actually seeking to cause harm. I also ignores harm as a byproduct of serving one’s self interest—or in this case megalomania.

When there is this much power-imbalance, I actually consider Hanlon’s razor to be harmful. It does not matter to the workers being fired whether Musk is acting out of ignorance or malice. The action speaks for it self.


Almost every defendant in a criminal case would go free if Hanlon's razor were used. Mental state is highly important in securing a criminal conviction unless it's a strict liability offense which there are comparatively few.


> "Wow, these guys really signed that thing?! They must be desperate to keep this job, if they would be any good they would have gotten the hell out, let's take another look at their code!"

ROFL! Should have been done the other way around, see if the code quality was good enough to keep, then send the "hardcore" e-mail. Doing it backwards, is arguably sadistic.


Punishing the true believes is cult-building 101. Cults techniques can be used to build organizations. Not highly competent organizations but barely adequate organizations. Musk can profit if he abuse Twitters market position, abuse vulnerable H1b immigrants and similar things. He hopefully he'll fail but I don't think we can assume he'll automatically fail.


Mostly visa holders not believers.


It’ll be at least 60 Days, as required by California law.


Imagine having paid 2 months of your salary to lick Musks boots and be discarded and branded "not satisfactory" for your efforts.

They should have at least gotten a horse out for the deal.


Good point. Signed his hardcore e-mail ultimatum, then still kicked out onto the streets, and branded "unsatisfactory". Ouch!! Musks appears to be enjoying his sadism.


Most were there due to H1Bs probably.


Well they can get unemployment now too.


Also, firing people on parental leave, and firing people on H1B who have 60d to get a job or leave the country.


> firing people on H1B who have 60d to get a job or leave the country.

And during the holidays at end of year, when hiring seems to slow down for a couple months.


Is it legal in US to fire people who are on parental leave?


It gets tricky.

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/77b-fmla-protec...

The specifics are https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/29/825.220#

In particular:

(c) The Act's prohibition against interference prohibits an employer from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise FMLA rights. For example, if an employee on leave without pay would otherwise be entitled to full benefits (other than health benefits), the same benefits would be required to be provided to an employee on unpaid FMLA leave. By the same token, employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions; nor can FMLA leave be counted under no fault attendance policies. See § 825.215.

---

I'll also point to things like Employer Makes $1.3 Million FMLA Mistake by Firing Worker After Mexico Trip that demonstrate the "be careful when dealing with discipline of people who are on FMLA and check with a lawyer first." https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/...


If they are on FMLA you can’t fire them but you can eliminate their job. However, if they are on a leave unrelated to FMLA there might be no protections and the employee can be terminated.


[flagged]


I’m on the spectrum and I have both family and friends on the spectrum. None of them would want to fire thousands of people on a whim. That’s not what being on the spectrum is like. Uncaring is not an apt word at all, and it would be just as surprising for someone on the spectrum to be truly uncaring as any neurotypical person.

They might seem uncaring in fleeting moments due to communication breakdown. They might not understand other peoples’ needs at all times. That’s far, far different from executing on the unemployment of thousands as though they are just crumpled up balls of cash to throw in the waste bin. Not remotely comparable.


Maybe the parent meant Cluster B Personality Disorder spectrum. That’s how I read it anyway.


Great point, I read that with a personal bias. I also find people tend to think Musk has ASD, though I have no idea if he does.


I'm on the spectrum and I'm not a piece of shit to my employees. Being on the spectrum does not automatically make someone an asshole. That is personal failure of Musk.


Yeah... by definition, being on the a-spectrum makes it harder to understand how other people think and will react.

But this isn't some faux pas. I'm sure Elon understands quite well how it's going to feel for everyone involved, he just doesn't care. That's a different kind of spectrum. The b spectrum you could say.


> Pretty cruel if you ask me. Or more like uncaring at all. But not unexpected from people on the spectrum...

This is not how autism works. Autism is not the inability to empathize; autistic people absolutely experience empathy (even if they often have difficulty recognizing body language that would often trigger empathy in social contexts). A lack of empathy/penchant for cruelty would suggest something like sociopathy or narcicissm rather than autism.


Cruelty is actually more reasonable to expect from someone who has excellent understanding of other persons’ emotions and simply enjoys making them suffer.

No spectrum involved.


Attributing this behavior to autism seems incorrect and harmful to me.


Think about why we praise people. It's to encourage them and others to continue doing good things.


Last time I checked the contract, it takes a willing worker to agree to the clause conditions.


“The article/tweet doesn’t mention it, but I assume they have the same severance package of a few months as the rest.”

It’s mentioned in the 4th tweet. Says they get 4 weeks.


I'm sure there were some unfair evaluations. Like, for example "terrible code" that's terrible because it was some attempt to add functionality or fix a bug in existing terrible code.


Actually it is easier than you think IF you know the stuff. But that big if does not apply in most of the cases.

I have tried this whenever I moved to a new company and read other people’s code and can almost pick out more than half of the coaster or BSers immediately without talking to any of them. You will miss a few more but you rarely get false positives.

BTW the loc is a stupid metric should never be used in the first place.


I heard the FSD code was a chaotic disaster too. I think numerous inexperienced programmers find fault with other people’s code and sometimes those criticisms are valid, but more often there is a huge amount of context the person sitting in their ivory tower is unaware of.

Doing things like this with kindness and wisdom would be better than swinging the axe with incomplete information. Especially H1Bs who are reliant on an employer to remain in the country are hopefully exempt from such extreme punishment and are at least given a shot at doing what Musk wants in terms of code quality.

From my point of view there’s no need to treat people as disposable commodities who cannot improve given the right environment. And I don’t like anyone thinking their opinions are that much better than anyone else’s, but these are the times we live in…


It’s cool that you’re wishing a product fails in a way that could kill people



"Twitter's management STILL trying to recruit back experienced software engineers who left Twitter last week, opting in to not be part of the "hardcore" Twitter 2.0.

Wonder how many of them return, knowing they also can be fired at any time based on a single code review."

Why would you return to something that will try to spit you out at the first sign of trouble? Or have those poor people working on a visa no choice?


Relatedly, I really wish people would stop calling this a "code review". That term already means something different than "shallow performance evaluation used as a justification for completely arbitrary firings with no notice".

It's horrifying to allow well-established industry concepts and terms to be redefined overnight by a single incompetent individual.


Yeah I imagine it's probably not exactly a traditional code review by any stretch of the imagination. It would be interesting to know exactly what it involved though, the previous instructions (print out X pages of code, present Y "salient" lines of code) do not fill me with confidence that they are prepared to accurately assess anyone's competence or lack thereof.

I honestly wonder if it's as farcical as some of the jokes about it: https://twitter.com/mnateshyamalan/status/159372367039601869...


> Why would you return to something that will try to spit you out at the first sign of trouble?

First you ask a crazy upfront payment to come back, then you ask a crazy wage per month.

If they agree, you're mad at yourself for not asking more.

That's how I would do it. Like a x10 sum of money.


Why would you give up your 3 month severance to come back for 80hr work weeks for the same salary with the risk of getting fired at any moment based on a weekly screenshot of 'salient' code and then only getting 1 month severance?


All I can do is express my sympathy to those affected. None of you deserved to be treated like this.


Prayers is not technically all we can do, we can push for more labor organization which would be able to prevent that type of mistreatment, among other things. We could also boycott Twitter.


If Twitter had unionized they could have protected themselves from the whims of Musk. It's still likely Musk would have massacred the company, but maybe people wouldn't be getting fired the day before Thanksgiving.

How any engineer looks at Twitter and doesn't say, "We should consider a union..." is beyond me.


He would have disregarded the unions as well. In the EU the workers have probably been illegally fired and the lawsuits are coming soon.


To be clear, in the EU, the workers have been blocked from access, but they have not been fired, because he legally cannot fire them in that manner.

Before access was blocked, from what I've heard, many of the EU Twitter employees read the "you're fired" email, said "hah, not from that I'm not" and went right back into work the next day.

If Twitter employees were unionized here in the US, it would be a similar story: Musk could say "you're all fired", but unless he went through the processes outlined in the union contract to fire the people, they would not be fired. At most, if he could get the payroll employees to do his bidding, he could stop them from getting paid, but that would absolutely not hold up in court, and he would have to pay them with back pay once the legal system got done with it—and that kind of legal dispute probably wouldn't take 2 years, since it would be an extremely straightforward case of breach of contract.


A union could have used a strike or other type of organized labor action to fight back immediately.

Not typically pro-union in tech, but Twitter is making the best case for one I’ve seen yet.


In this case, what would strike achieve from people who Musk wants to not work anyway? Twitter literally closed EU facilities. I don't know any union law in any country that prevents company from closing facilities and eliminating all jobs.


Twitter workers could strike and shut down the site, they could strike and not make changes like the $8 verification badge, they could strike until Musk agreed to reasonable work hours.

They could afford to pay a lawyer a whole lot to fight layoffs and firings.

Not a perfect set of options, but better options than they have today.


>Twitter workers could strike and shut down the site

No, they are all fired. Didn't you hear? Every EU software engineer has been fired.


Not legally they haven't been. Facebook discovered this recently, when they attempted to lay off people in NL. They discovered that because it's a mass layoff, they need to consult a workers council. But they don't have a workers council, so they need to elect one, which will take three months. Then another three months of consultation.

Even in Ireland/UK which have pretty employer friendly labour laws, none of the FB employees have actually been laid off yet, they're still in a consultation period (till December I believe).

Unfortunately for US CEO's, the US labour law does not apply globally.


Strong unions could do industrial action to take down the site. Take the server offline.


Are you talking about sabotaging the company?


It's not different from a union blocking the gates of a factory so non-union workers can't get in.


Musk wants 20-25% of the workforce remaining to run Twitter. He’s not closing all facilities since he is promoting RTO.

In theory that’s a bargaining chip that organized labor could have used (this would involve labor solidarity between the laid-off/fired workers and the ones he wanted to keep). Bringing in “scabs” with zero institutional knowledge to run the site effectively without torching his $30 billion equity investment could have been very difficult, especially since RTO in San Francisco is apparently valuable to him.


> Musk wants 20-25% of the workforce remaining to run Twitter.

Engineering is cut down to about ~10% or less in many areas. A friend of mine told me their group is down to ~10 from 155 after 2/3 being laid off and about 90% of the remainder rejecting the "hardcore" ultimatum.

I'm expecting a lot of the non-SF facilities to close and those people to be fired as well. They should have considered geography more in the layoff, but because he had a bunch of Tesla goons deciding who to cut instead of people who know the business or HR professionals who know how to plan workforce reduction it doesn't seem like geographic distribution was considered. But it's certainly not economical to operate many office locations designed for hundreds with only a small fraction of that number still employed.


Honestly I wouldn’t put it past Musk to call the Pinkertons. They’re still around after all.


You are probably right, tbh.


> How any engineer looks at Twitter and doesn't say, "We should consider a union..." is beyond me.

"You know, those $500k a year are nice and all, but what I really want is $125k, job security and someone who makes sure only union members are allowed to plug in network cables."

Engineers are making large amounts of money, that's why they don't care about unions.


> None of you deserved to be treated like this.

Give me a break. This sector of the economy is literally the upper echelon of humanity.

They won the lottery compared to most people and act like this is some affront. What a bunch of baloney.


Twitter engineers are extremely well paid in addition to being cashed out of their company stock options at an above market price - and then getting severance.


Is this true? What happened to unvested RSUs?


Unvested RSUs were supposed to have turned into cash payments that would "vest" on the same schedule.


With 33% of the severance that the 'non-clickers' got just last week too.

Why would anyone re-join Twitter2 or get hired there?

Why are the people that got put on the PIP doing anything but trying to find another job?

You know Elon's just going to abuse you and not much else, he's proven it a few times now. It's very clear, he thinks you're a chump and he's going to keep treating you like a chump.


I could imagine some young hackers/CS grads would see Twitter2 as an opportunity to come in, work hard, launch product that succeeds, and use that to parlay to a more sustainable career in the future. Such people will tolerate a fair amount of abuse (similar to grad school) because the expectation is that it will pay off long-term.


They would join for the same reason you join any company - salary and experience.

It would be odd to expect more from other employers.


If it was me, I would re-join for normal working hours, a huge upfront payment and a 10x wage.


None of this is surprising. It's not about the code it's about figuring out a reason to fire people to cut costs dramatically since the company isn't profitable at its current footprint or with its current Chief Moron making it a toxic asset for advertisers.


> since the company isn't profitable at its current footprint or with its current Chief Moron making it a toxic asset for advertisers.

And the enormous amount of debt that Musk heaped on the company as part of the LBO.

Let us not all forget that Twitter's debt service increased by a factor of ten thanks to the acquisition. This is a problem of Musk's own making.


You are right. We are firing you to cut costs could put the blame on the company, we are firing you because your code is ugly puts the fault on the employee. It is all about blaming.


> It is all about blaming.

No, its all about costs. A layoff for cost reasons gives the employee unemployment and costs the employer higher UI tax rates (which are based, in part, on the cost of UI paid to their employees vs. past payments.)

A firing for failure to meet performance standards other employers met doesn’t give the employee unemployment and doesn’t result in additional costs to the employer.

Of course, a pretextual firing might be the subject of an unemployment appeal, but at the pay of a Twitter software engineer, while people might take UI they are entitled to, they aren’t likely to bother fighting it based on need (but might just to make a point.)


Even if they fired everyone but 1 person they still would not make a dent in those payments.


> Those fired got 4 weeks severance, by the way. A slap in the face, given that if they chose to not click "yes" to stay just a week ago, they would have gotten 3 months.

Can this be real? That’s seriously f-ed up.


I was thinking, why did they give the first round 3 months and this time only 1? Why didn't they give the first round 1 month? Only thing I could come up with is that more people who were on the fence for the first round might have stayed, so giving them 3 months encouraged more people to leave, which is the ultimate goal, to save money.

This is why not getting to review severance (if leaving) and employment contracts (if staying) before having to make the "commit to hardcore" decision was unreasonable.


Unfortunately this is often standard procedure when companies do layoffs. The first round gets generous severance. In subsequent rounds, the company's death spiral has become obvious and they no longer spend on niceties like unnecessary severance.

Lesson: if your employer offers you a buyout, take it.


First round got 3 months because a no-notice mass layoff requires at least 60 days according to various state and federal WARN acts. Once you get down to actually firing people for cause, you can (usually) skirt WARN acts.


Twitter's only argument could be that this wasn't a mass layoff assuming the numbers check out, IIRC less than 50 employees at a work location (whatever that means with all remote work). Musk bought the company about 30 days ago, so it couldn't have given a60-day notice since. And I doubt that these employees were laid off "for cause", otherwise all layoffs would be for “not satisfactory” and avoid severance. Of course you're screwed if you're here on a visa that doesn't let you fight this.


If it’s “for cause,” then is any severance at all warranted?


Who is judging the code not being satisfactory? Can we see example of the code in question? Can we also see examples of the code written by those who say other folk's code isn't satisfactory? In other words, are the evaluators even competent? Usually not.


What else was Musk gonna proclaim about why they were fired? That he needed to scare the remaining staff into submission by getting rid of a few more without any rational selection criteria?

It already stopped making sense at "10 most salient lines of code". He's trying to spread his truth that he knows anything about software (or tech at large), a fiction that was probably always a big reason for why people gave him money. Enough seem to buy it. Probably the one thing he is an actual genius at: Marketing.


If you want some hair-raising stories of Musk mistreating his employees and generally being self-destructive, this article was a pretty good warning. There’s a story halfway down about Musk firing a competent engineer just because he was pissed off and that engineer was nearby. You can’t read the entire thing without thinking either (a) it’s all lies, nobody could be that cruel and inept, or (b) holy crap he’s the worst boss ever. This Twitter debacle has been illuminating. https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-giga...


Good God, why would anyone work for him?


Wasn’t he bringing Tesla SWEs to do this?


Must a talented food critique also be a good chef?


What a food critic reviews (the food, the service, the ambience) is analogous to the user-facing Twitter experience, which you don't need to be a programmer to review. What a chef does to create that dining experience (sourcing ingredients, planning menus, organizing the kitchen) is analogous to what programmers are doing, and that's not something you can usefully critique without relevant experience.

In any case, I wouldn't really trust a food critic who couldn't cook. But even the greatest home cook is not a chef.


If they are looking at the recipe and using that to judge the food, yeah...


Even this metaphor breaks down, in what way would someone who eats at 5 star restaurants be qualified to comment on the structure of the recipe or the reliable sourcing of ingredients? The truth is pretty clear at this point: Musk has no technical chops.


Is the food critic also a SW developer?


> Who is judging the code not being satisfactory? Can we see example of the code in question?

Why should you see the code, or learn who the judge is, or be the judge yourself? Are you qualified to judge someone else's $44B acquisition? If you haven't recently purchased a social network for $44B, then you are not qualified to look at things from their perspective either.

Go start your own company and then you can do what you want with yours and your investors' money, but Elon Musk doesn't owe you a shred of explanation for anything he chooses with the company that he bought that he clearly believes was on life support, at best.


> the company that he bought that he clearly believes was on life support

Well, it is now.


Too bad the Mars colonization effort is just another Musk PR scam. It would have been great to eventually see that guy leave this planet and hopefully never return.


Now he can have starlink orbiting mars and still tweet to his minions from the colony!


I once worked at a very high-end online fashion retailer, and as a programmer, it was a decent place to work, and I look back fondly on my time there.

However, if you were in the fashion industry, and especially if you wanted to work at a company founded by an inspiring woman, it was absolutely the place you wanted to work. HR were inundated by applications for non-tech positions by highly capable and motivated people, and HR acted like it. It was very selective, and the best people fought for jobs there and worked hard.

But for tech workers, it was simply an decent place to work, and was perpetually a little bit short-staffed. HR couldn't wrap their minds around the fact that this one segment had choices and weren't really that fussed about working there, and so it took a lot of work for engineering managers to free up basic recruitment marketing money, to streamline recruitment processes etc.

I wonder if there's some of that going on. For people who want to work on the cutting edge of space-tech, SpaceX has to be very high up on the list of places you'd want to work. For people who want to build electric cars, ditto Tesla.

But for software engineers who are good enough to do the work that needs to be done at Twitter? meh, there are choices. There are companies with much more interesting problems, companies with larger scale, companies who'll pay better. Are there that many Twitter True Believers? My understanding is the big draw beforehand for Twitter was that they had a great working environment, and that's evaporated.

I wonder if Musk will be able to get his head around that.


I think that used to be true about Tesla, but now other companies are fully into electric vehicles, opening up new opportunities for people who want to go into that field. The allure of Tesla is vanishing, leaving only long hours, workaholism, and Cult Elon as the differentiating reasons to work there.

Your main point is absolutely right: whenever you have a company where a lot of people want to work, that company can (and always does) get away with extreme hiring selectivity and abuse of the people it selects. See also the video game industry.


> I wonder if Musk will be able to get his head around that.

Doubtful based on how this is going.


Counterpoint: Assuming Musk doesn't completely burn all remaining tech goodwill (which is a huge assumption), Twitter is probably the easiest entry point to a company with large scale that is also well known and will be a resume boost. Given two candidates, one who managed Twitter's datacenter and one who managed the datacenter for Mutual of Omaha, I'd posit that the former would have an easier hop onto the next rung of the ladder.


There is a certain amount of people who like to work in a “Elon Musk” company no matter what. Like him or not, but he is a guy who has a certain pull which let’s people overlook a lot of stuff. So Twitter will still bee able to hire from that pool - despite all the negative firing news.


I think you're right. The question is: is that pool big enough? For Tesla and SpaceX, you had a _vision_ as well, so you could be ambivalent about Musk but still stoked on what the company was doing. I don't think Elon's laid out that vision for Twitter yet very effectively ... I don't think building another Careem/Grab/Rappi/LINE/whatever super-app is very compelling, which was one of the latest ideas.


If I had an opportunity to join Twitter now then I'd definitely do it

It could be interesting story to tell after years


It's a major tech company undergoing a fundamental rebuilding. I'd absolutely work there, it's a very rare opportunity. Previous Twitter never crossed my mind as a place I'd want to work.

But you've got to go in knowing it will be intense chaos and it could end suddenly for you personally.


The stress could also give you a heart attack or other chronic health problems, not solved by getting fired.


... Why???


Empty seats in high level roles are usually only found in startups, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete over empty high level roles in a big tech company. Elon created a ton of problems for Twitter, there will be a lot of money for the people who can fix those, so if you believe you have the kind of skills Elon values and that you can help save Twitter from him then the current state of Twitter is the most attractive workplace to be. Its basically like joining a startup that already makes billions of dollars, maybe it fails, but no startup will have as great odds as current Twitter of actually making billions of dollars.

You know how they say that you should hire during recessions etc, going against the stream is often really lucrative.


Opportunities :)


How do you make that kind of determination when you're missing the wider context which led to the code being written? Same goes for the code printouts and screenshots he was requesting people send.

Did Elon write any code during his time at PayPal?


> How do you make that kind of determination when you're missing the wider context which led to the code being written?

Dartboard.

Musk believes that, having fired 80% or so of the staff already, it's still overstaffed. He wants to reduce it to a group of people he can fit in a room and shout at directly. It's the literal implementation of "firings will continue until morale improves".


My understanding is that Paypal was largely implemented @ Confinity before the merger with (Musk-founded) X.com


Exactly.

To recap for folks unfamiliar with the history:

Peter Thiel co-founded the electronic payments company that developed PayPal.

Musk co-founded an online bank which had massive security holes.

The two companies merged and Musk was fired before the name was changed to PayPal.

See part 1 of Common Sense Skeptic's video on YouTube: Debunking Elon Musk


A lot of people who stayed did so because of H1Bs, and a lot of those people were sacked last night. Imagine having to find a new job in 60 days, starting the night before Thanksgiving. My heart goes out to those poor folks.


If I were to guess what's going on, it is that Elon Musk is seeing losses and not profits.

He now owns a significant chunk of the firm (not quite 100%, there were some other buyers, etc. but close enough). So now every $1 expensed by the loss-making company, he sees as a dollar he personally loses - and that's after overpaying through the nose for the company (he got hit by a double-whammy: Twitter value crashed along with other Tech stocks, and he had to sell more Tesla stock to cover the over-inflated valuation).

This is quite different from the perspective of a, say, 5% owner. For every dollar spent by the firm, that's only a $0.05 "spend" out of the minority stake owner. It's easier to justify such expenses to yourself, emotionally.

Basically, the more of your personal wealth is locked into an enterprise, the more risk-averse you become about it. If you have a diversified portfolio of small stakes, you're more likely to be bullish on them individually and encourage investment for high-risk / high-reward profile, but not if you basically have one massive bet.

So I'm guessing, he's thinking he not only overpaid for Twitter, he is now paying through the nose just to keep the office open, and he's not clear what it's all for. So without an idea for profits, he is desperate to cut the losses.

Obviously the human cost - collateral damage to Musk - is tremendous and it makes me so sad to see people's livelihoods shattered on a whim like this.


> the more of your personal wealth is locked into an enterprise, the more risk-averse you become about it

If Musk were risk-averse he wouldn’t be rocking the boat. None of what he’s done since the sale qualifies as “risk averse”.


Au contraire, it seems to me he is desperately trying to cut cost. Plus his usual megalomania. I think he bit off more than he can easily chew this time.


Ouch. The timing is really rough for H1B visa holders. With Thanksgiving and then the end of year holidays coming up, it effectively burns half the 60 day period to find a new job. That’s brutal.


I mean if I were working at Twitter, and on H1B (at the mercy of the US Gov), I would have started my job hunt and jumped off the moment all this drama with Elon started. So, I don't think anyone smart would be _starting_ their job hunt now..


Isn't TikTok getting those people hard?

btw. what happens if you start your own company?


I assume the severance package comes with some strings attached to it. Like boot working for a competitor for a limited time.


At least in California, non competes aren’t enforceable.


Truth. People in that situation would likely be in a mad scramble.


The absolute cruelty of Musk through this whole process is astounding.

One has to assume he's like this at his other companies as well, which is absolutely shredding their reputation in my eyes.


I've read a load of stuff recently talking about how SpaceX and Tesla survive when he's in charge there too, and apparently SpaceX have a load of people who basically are a buffer between Musk and the bits of the company that actually get the job done.

Twitter has no such buffer, so we get to see the full scale of his hubris and impulsiveness in action.


> I've read a load of stuff recently talking about how SpaceX and Tesla survive when he's in charge there too, and apparently SpaceX have a load of people who basically are a buffer between Musk and the bits of the company that actually get the job done.

https://twitter.com/cestperdu/status/1595778031481942016


> apparently SpaceX have a load of people who basically are a buffer between Musk and the bits of the company that actually get the job done.

Every company I've worked for has this, its very common.

Also, I suspect this is the same story being repeated rather than being sourced from multiple different spacex middle managers. (Which doesn't mean its untrue, just don't assume hearing something in multiple places means it has more than one root source)


As one former early Tesla engineer remarked to me “Your chances of being summarily fired go up exponentially when you are in the same room as Elon”


Musk, Jobs... all byproducts of the calvinistic and very american idolatry of wealth. Not much else.



> The absolute cruelty of Musk through this whole process is astounding.

That is by design. There is a mindset were powerful people feels that they need to show up their power, otherwise why do they have it? That is one of the reasons inequality causes many illnesses in society as the rich few feel the need to be cruel on people with less power. If it was not Musk it would be someone else.


> If it was not Musk it would be someone else.

This is an argument that needs to be done really carefully: its logical conclusion is that his cruelty is deterministic and there is nothing he can do about it. People have a certain degree of agency, he actively chooses to be cruel amongst other options at his disposal.


That's a bulshit generalization. The way Musk is handling the entire Twitter situation is a shitshow and I don't really see many people in his position playing it that way. Musk is a controversial character even among rich/powerful and his behavior is in character but not something I'd expect from many of his peers.


Agreed. Anyone else who purchased Twitter would absolutely end up restructuring. There would have been layoffs, etc... But, I highly doubt it would have been this shitshow.

Fire, ask people back, then fire again. Roll out a feature that everyone tells you is going to cause impersonation issues, then roll it back when it....causes impersonation issues.

I mentioned in a comment the other day that I heard a take that's very simple. Because Musk overpaid by so much, there is zero path to success. Now he's just trying to stave off bankruptcy which seems inevitable.

He also seems to have zero vision. If he had a vision, getting rid of people doing the work is the last thing you want to do. The old adage, there are no bad teams, only bad leaders comes to mind. He appears to want to run Twitter as-is on a skeleton crew - more like a PE firm rather than visionary founder.


> Because Musk overpaid by so much, there is zero path to success. Now he's just trying to stave off bankruptcy which seems inevitable.

That's what it looks like from outside looking in. But it also exposes him as a loudmouth talking out of his ass for cheap PR. The whole Twitter mess is a result of an ego trip/PR stunts he thought he could get out of for free.


Restructuring and refocusing firm sized of Twitter should take weeks if not months. Not saying that it wasn't needed, but the approach taken seem just insane.

Then again, part of reason behind this might be that now he is playing with something he paid with it own money and lot of it. Not a "toy" project of couple million or dozen million.


> Restructuring and refocusing firm sized of Twitter should take weeks if not months. Not saying that it wasn't needed, but the approach taken seem just insane.

Agree completely. Part of my shitshow comment is how haphazard and plan free the layoffs have gone.


Yeah, but didn't you know Musk is a "special person", so therefore can abuse the fuck out of anyone he wants. He isn't just some random emerald mine heir with some interest in technology.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/09/elon-...


How much money do you think he got from that mine?


Idk, emeralds are worth what, $10. And there are like, 1,000 of them in a mine, so $10,000


> If it was not Musk it would be someone else.

I don’t know the name of this fallacy but the “if X doesn’t do it somebody will” doesn’t seem convincing.

Especially as the previous management of Twitter wasn’t like that so it’s actually already disproved by history.


Not only that: the power itself depends on other people believing in it.

If literally nobody in the company believes you to be the CEO, then you are no more powerful than anyone else. Similarly, even if you're not the CEO, but everyone believes you are, you have all the power of being one.

This means if you want to stay powerful, you have to exercise your power to remind people that you have it, thus reinforce their belief in it, and retain it so you can exercise it again to remind people and so on.

Of course, I would argue there are better ways to gain and display power.


True. Most CEOs don't run around displaying their power this way.


> If it was not Musk it would be someone else.

Do you mean that in the sense that some superrich person at a different company, or do you mean that in the sense that pretty much every superrich person who would run Twitter would act the same way?


Maybe it's time to consider whether we're better off not having such concentrations of wealth...

Let Musk keep $5B, he'll be able to live luxuriously forever on that. But he won't be able to ruin thousands of lives so easily.


The maximum value any human being should be able to control as wealth in any form - property, stock, rights, cash, what have you, is $1 million dollars. Anything more gets appropriated and redistributed by the state.

More than rich enough to live on, but nowhere near rich enough to buy governments and corporations on a whim.


1 million is both a lot, but also not a lot, in 2022. Especially depending on where you live.

There are so many nuances in play that you can’t really put a hard number to this.


Make it a billion and it would still be strictly better for society. Hell, burn the money in a pile if you object to it being given to the state and it would still suffice. You don't need to completely remove inequality, or even get anywhere close, you just need to prevent the unilateral exercise of such tremendous power. Power must be decentralized.

The irony is that if you want to believe in the power of a market economy (which I do, or at least did before the modern era), you must oppose the massive concentration of wealth because it distorts our markets to the point of irrational uselessness.


There has to be some kind of limit. Take an extreme example. Would it be OK to have a single individual (or company) worth $1e24? A septillionaire could give $1 trillion to every person on the planet every year for 100 years and still have 99.99% of his money left. How much power and influence over the world would someone like that have, while the rest have comparatively close to zero? I think we all agree that wouldn't work for a functioning society. We probably also agree that $1million is probably too low a limit. So it's not a question of whether there should be a limit but where that threshold is.


I don't disagree that there has to be a limit. If the house of Windsor could own most of the world in the twentieth century and lose it, there's clearly a limit.

What I disagree with is the benefit of an explicit limit that's formally set once and can't be updated. And if it could be updated the limit would be constantly ahead of where the richest person is now and meaningless. Markets are an ecosystem, ecosystems are self-correcting. In large part, markets are the self-correcting behavior of humans valuing tangible things writ large. The market sets the limit, the idea of an autocratic limit set from outside such a system because we don't like the signal it's sending just strikes me as hubristic.


The minimum wage is a limit "set from outside" and most people (besides very strict idealist Libertarians) agree that it's a generally good idea. We might disagree on minor implementation nit-picks.

I think it's a mistake to single out one single economic system: specifically unlimited, unrestrained free-market capitalism, and frame that system as the universe's base, "natural" system. Doing so conveniently lets you frame deviations from that system as "unnatural" or "autocratic". Unlimited free-market capitalism is not some natural, universal frame of reference--it is a deliberate choice made and enforced by governments/people, and that choice can be un-made by people.

We mostly agree that a minimum wage that can change with political pressure is a good economic policy. Nothing but reasoning and political will prevents us from agreeing that a maximum wage, or maximum net worth, could be good economic policy.


If people are free to leave their current polity, then governments still need to compete for people wanting to live within their domains and are subject to a free policy market. In other words, the political pressure and good economic policy you're referring to are contained within a free market, not the other way round.

In fact, even if you're arguing for a state's right to ban emmigration, that's just an additional difficulty to voting with one's feet. People still left East Germany despite it being illegal, because West Germany was outcompeting it in a truly unconstrained market of where people wanted to live.


Million is not much, at very reasonable 2% or 3% it would be 30000 a year. Or just burning it straight up 50000 in 20 years. That is actually not that much money these days.

5 or 10 million starts to look lot more reasonable limit.


So you think hedge fund account managers should only ever manage up to $1M in assets? Seems very inefficient...

(Snark aside, this idea is completely unfeasible for a number of reasons you can probably think of given a couple of minutes)


I think GP's point was that 1 billion is also completely unfeasible.

'there should be no billionaires' is just a dumb idea put out for impact more than any hope of achieving it. When I try to steelman the idea I come up with the fact that smaller amounts of capital can be allocated more efficiently, and that society should therefore try to ensure capital naturally flows to individuals with less rather than more assets. Not a bad point, Warren Buffet definitely made higher returns early in his career and he credits that in large part to being able to pick targets better when investing millions than when investing billions.

But going from 'billionaires are a sign of capital inefficiency' to 'lets ban billionaires' rhetoric posits using violence to seize or suppress billionaires capital, which requires a larger concentration of capital than the billionaires have now. It's a statement at war with its own ideals, I shouldn't even be giving it the oxygen necessary to refute it.


10% annual tax on wealth above $1 billion would get us pretty close.


Try and introduce that and you'll run right into the impossibility of measuring wealth. E.g. what if Bill Gates just gives all his many over 1 billion to a charity or trust? Say, the Gates foundation (see wikipedia for the good work that charity has done)? Is the wealth "his" given he still has a great deal of control over how it gets spent?

Try a wealth tax like that and the Musk charitable foundation is founded with the goals of fighting climate change via electric cars and making a Mars colony.


once again, assuming someone can impose that tax already implies a greater concentration of power than the billionaire himself. It's a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.


That's probably a bit extreme for me (and I'm a self described communist). A million dollars of property is a fraction of a house in major urban areas who have seen big upswings in home values.

That said, if we can decommidify housing, I'd be much more willing to discuss wealth caps in the millions of dollars.


I agree it's probably by design, but I contest that it's a bad thing. People comment on this takeover with a mindset where the company is made only of employees and owner. There are quite a few more stakeholders in this, much more than usual in this case. There are its clients (advertisers), its users, and everybody that's indirectly affected by the dialogue that goes on Twitter.

From the mindset I mentioned, yes, Musk is needlessly cruel and a bully. But he was quite clear from the beginning that he's doing it in good part for society at large - so the normal priority of stakeholders is actually reversed. Society and discourse become most important, then users, then clients and employees.


> But he was quite clear from the beginning that he's doing it in good part for society at large

Judge a man by his actions, not by his words. So far, his actions have been cruel and destructive, not only to Twitter's employees and Twitter's users, but also to everyone forced to share a society with the newly-chaotic, increasingly-bot-filled, resurgently-hateful, woefully-undermoderated Twitter. Musk is a liar. Stop worshiping this man.


Haven’t seen any change at all as a Twitter user since the whole Elon brouhaha started.


Really? I've seen 2fa break, the rules for parody accounts change multiple times, ones making fun of Elon banned and the blue checkmark fiasco where a bunch of people were able to purchase official looking accounts for prominent companies and people.


Oh, I read about those but I saw absolutely no change in my daily use, other the tweets commenting, of course. The app worked fine. I am at most a casual user though.


Okay. A lot of people were affected though.


Yeah, so I keep hearing. Never met one of those people or one of those effects myself though.


I am effected. I can send you proof if you email me. My follower count is zero when I’m logged in after I was locked out of my account for a bit right after retweeting a joke meme critical of Elon’s handling of Twitter.

Elon told me he wants to make Twitter a free speech area. Why did anything negative happen because I posted a family friendly meme? Just because it insults the owner of the free speech platform?

I only log into Twitter once a month. I post even less. This is the first time I’ve had issues.

I don’t have proof for loading being janky at times in recent weeks but I could be on the lookout and take screenshots of that too.


I believe you, thanks for writing about it here.


If I have to not be biased. Yeah it isn’t the biggest deal yet. Would I hate this sort of situation regardless of who was at the helm? Absolutely.

The worst thing as a [tech] worker is people being okay with Twitter as it is now and with more gradual degradation. I will vote with my class interest by saying Twitter isn’t fine. Why should most people be fine with shoddy work by overworked employees or with possibly weak safety and security. All of this because debt repayment has to happen on billions of dollars of debt put on to the company’s books.


He is not more cruel than the stakeholders who sold the company without ever worrying about the employees.


He is. Demonstrably.


I mean, to be fair, the stakeholders of twitter had a chance to not allow a sell. Musk wanted to back out. They knew what would happen. Note, this doesn't absolve Musk of any of his actions, but the stakeholders are also assholes.


Isn't the board of directors legally responsible for obtaining the best financial result for shareholders? If someone makes an above-market-value offer for the company, I doubt they can just say "no" without severe consequences and lawsuits.

On top of that, GOP members of congress were threatening an investigation if they turned down the offer: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/22/republicans-demand-twitter-b...


Do you know that "maximize shareholder value" trope that's trotted out every time a corporation kicks over a baby carriage? This is one of the few times it's actually relevant. Letting Musk back out of the deal would have been a gross dereliction of fiduciary duty, would have landed the board members in court personally, and perhaps wouldn't have even stopped the sale given how shareholder-friendly Delaware is.

Despite all the lofty platitudes about building good companies, startups are always headed towards the uncaring wood chipper of finance. In a way, Musk violently running the company into the ground (ala the cliche of the rich person buying a sports car only to crash it on the way home) is a better outcome than the surveillance-monetization pot slowly boiling.


If you want to make a point the best way is probably to give a couple examples, that's the laziest comment I've seen all day.


It's in the context of a thread where Elon is being demonstrably cruel. Read the op for examples.


Because he has money? Elon sounds like a real dick, but people forget that literal tech super-villains like Larry Ellison exist. Compared to the previous shareholders of Twitter, Musk is frankly a sidegrade. You literally cannot do worse than Jack Dorsey.


I understand the reference to Larry Ellison but what did Jack do?


Beside his prolific crypto bro arc and attempts at effective altruism, he did very little during his tenure as CEO and let the company stagnate during it's most lucrative years. On top of that, his moderation double-standards were as bad as Musk and he even went on to admit that Twitter in it's current incarnation is a mistake. He did a good job of building a company from nothing, but struggled to turn it into anything profitable.


That's worse than Ellison?

There's more than profitability that makes a good CEO. And Jack at least didn't run Twitter into the ground.

FWIW it seemed that Twitter was on a good trajectory when Jack left as CEO.


Twitter was losing a billion dollars per year when Jack left as CEO. He may have not run Twitter into the ground, but neither has Musk so I'd argue it's a moot point.

I'm not trying to compare Jack Dorsey to Larry Elison, but my point is that Elon exists somewhere between these two on the axis of "deliberate ruthlessness" and "bumbling incompetence". For Twitter to be profitable, it has to be run like a business instead of a parody of the tech industry.


> Twitter was losing a billion dollars per year when Jack left as CEO.

He left in 2021 when they lost $220M (not a loss of a billion dollars) because of an $800M settlement which means they -technically- made a profit of $580M (very much not a loss of a billion dollars.)

If you're thinking of 2020, that does seem to have been a $1.1bn net loss but that's somewhat balanced by 2019 which was a $1.4bn net income (according to [1])

[1] https://www.republicworld.com/technology-news/social-media-n...


> He may have not run Twitter into the ground, but neither has Musk

Musk has added a $1bn/year debt servicing obligation - the company will have to make $1bn/year profit just to reach net $0. I don't think there's any scenario available where this isn't "running it into the ground".


The Twitter board did not have a choice and were obligated to sell the company since it was in the best interest of the shareholders. If they hadn't sold the company because they didn't like Elon or whatever, they would likely have been sued by the shareholders.


It was up to the shareholders to give the board a clear mandate to discuss the workforce's future as well as financial issues.


I’m dumbfounded by the idea that Musk was under any societal or business obligation to keep underperforming employees on his payroll.

As much as you may hate Musk, if you’ve been in this industry for a while, you know SV is full of people who are better at slacking, whedling, and coasting than coding, and in some cases have no skill at all and are clearly nepotism hires. Musk clearly does not have time for that sort of hiring, but I don’t think it’s a unique thing to him; any other non-SV businessowner would almost certainly be doing the same.


The idea is that Musk clearly doesn't judge performance and rather just fires haphazardly, as somewhat evidenced by the failed attempts to rehire various critical staff.

Firing them with much less severance than the "nonbelievers" he pushed out previously is a pointlessly cruel action.

Over in the EU, it is quite clearly a set of societal obligations that he is violating, ones that are enshrined in law.


I'm dumbfounded that anyone thinks these were underperforming employees.


If you think the way Space Karen has gone about these RIFs is even remotely effective at achieving that objective, I have a bridge to sell you.


Musk has already fired what, over 80% of employees? If your rationale is that they were all underperforming then you clearly don't actually care and are just using this as a convenient wedge to push your agenda. If they weren't all underperforming, then Musk arbitrarily fired a bunch of people for nonsensical reasons.


This HN post has been buried:

    194.
    Twitter has fired more software engineers (twitter.com/gergelyorosz)
    139 points by r721 3 hours ago | flag | hide | 242 comments


Too many comments (and a couple of user flags probably):

>The FAQ notes that submission rank is impacted by "software which downweights overheated discussions." A good rule of thumb for this effect is when the number of comments on a submission exceeds its score.

https://github.com/minimaxir/hacker-news-undocumented

I recommend checking https://news.ycombinator.com/active ("Most active current discussions") once per day to find these discussions.


Twitter is not working anymore. I got errors after errors. My timeline won't load on mobile at least four times over five. I don't get most of my notifications on the website even when the interaction are right there before my eyes.

It is quite amazing/awful to me how it is possible to break a platform that has been working pretty well for 15 years in a matters of weeks. This is quite fast.

Anyway, most of all I sincerely hope the layed-off people will find another, better job as quickly as they were fired.


> that has been working pretty well for 15 years

"Fail whale" is a well-used term for a reason. Twitter has always been known for low reliability. It got better, though, but still nowhere near Facebook etc.


I don't mind internet services being down from time to time. What I mind is services that are unreliable, that acts as if they were working while they're not. The fail whale was there from time to time (I've seen my share of her, I've been on Twitter since early 2007), but this time it is different. It's not a "oops something is broken, we're on it and the service will be back soon, sorry" situation. It's a "everything is going wrong and we don't even know if the people who can fix things are still there" situation.


Nah. Those were the earliest days, but Twitter has been rock solid for about a decade now. Outages and service degradations were extremely rare.

The Fail whale itself got retired in 2013, and there hasn't been a complete global outage since.


Haven't seen the Fail Whale in some time. But Facebook has been glitching terribly the last few months on desktop — mobile is smooth, but desktop has been acting very weird.


Indeed, it used to be constantly broken in the early 2010s. But I believe it was quite stable by the time it started regaining relevance again with Trump.


Many World Cup updates do not show up in time (usually delayed by 10-120 minutes). So, Twitter isn't broken but is essentially useless.


The no-login experience was a piece of shit, even before Elon. I click it sometimes when people link to it, and around 1 out of 5 times the page, or some part of it, just simply doesn't load. Working right after a refresh.


Works fine for me.


Good for you, I'm experiencing the exact same issues as the parent comment. Tweets don't load taking multiple refreshes to load, on mobile I get an error every 2nd or 3rd request. Notifications definitely are not popping up anymore and when I click on the tab I do see them but then the next refresh they disappear. Sometimes completely failing to load.

It's not completely broken but I've been definitely experiencing a degradation the past 5-7 days.


One effect of a service degradation like you are describing is that people will hit Reload more often when things appear broken, further increasing the load. This can quickly lead to a cascade failure at a tipping point.


It mostly works but it's clear that some features are slowly breaking. Maybe it won't matter that it's starting to look rough around the edges but I would love for a real competitor to show up


When can you ship your laptop to production?


That's what made Docker popular.


I’m not well versed in California/USA labour laws but does the haste and lack of cause for firings seem like grounds for civil suits?


Not all Twitter employees are in California; you generally can't do this in Europe, so it'll be interesting to see how that pans out.


My guess would be either ignoring the problem altogether or "pulling out" of Europe employment-wise and then ignoring any ramifications of that for as long as possible.


Yeah, while twitter does have European business entities e.g. https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/c... , I'm not sure what happens if the subsidiary goes bust or gets shut down before you've finished suing it. Probably have to take the case to Delaware.


California is At-Will. You can fire for “no reason”. Someone could try to claim your reason was a lie and that it was actually based on discrimination against a protected class though.


Certainly, but the cost of what those inevitably settle for will be far less than keeping the employees on payroll or paying severance.


To be fair to Musk, indeed he is delivering on the "hardcore" twitter promise. Edit: not condoning his practices.


“How much do twitter devs have to take?” - before a union vote, I hope?



At this point Musk seems to be doing things just for attention and losing least money with Twitter.


Who are these people who are clicking yes to longer hours except for H1B visa holders who would have to leave the country if they don’t find a job in 60 days?

On another note, in any major city in the US, a software developer is making above the local average income and has no reason to not have a “go to hell fund”.


Having an above average income may be a necessary but is far from a sufficient condition to being able save up such a fund.

If you have above average income, most likely you will have above average outgoings, including on things you can't instantaneously cut like housing costs, car finance and school fees.

The only way I managed to create savings is by earning like a wealthier person but living like a less wealthy one, but there's a social cost to this course of action.


> The only way I managed to create savings is by earning like a wealthier person but living like a less wealthy one,

Isn't that natural by the definition of saving up? That you'll have less money here and now, because you are saving for later?

> but there's a social cost to this course of action.

Only if the people you hang around spend more money than you. There can also be social costs to earning and spending more money than people around you.


And only if you give a shit about what other people think.


Nope. Also if you want to share the same experiences as your friends and colleagues, such as joining for Friday drinks, going with them on holidays, going to concerts and other events together.

Of course it doesn't mean you should do all that in lieu of saving, but it's nonsense to claim there are never any social costs to living a lower or higher lifestyle than your friends.


“Hey we are trying to save for $x. Can we meet some place cheaper?”

“I won’t be able to go on $x vacation with you all. I will have to catch you next time”.

I work for $BigTech remotely in a lower cost of living area. Our income is much higher than many of our friends. We purposefully choose places that are affordable.

I was just planning a trip with my cousins (we grew up together like siblings) and everyone without small kids and responsibilities was talking about going to all inclusive in Mexico for a week. My being the only person reading the room - knowing that one of my cousins had twins in high school and knowing her situation - I suggested a much cheaper option.

On the other hand, my wife and I have had to say no to vacations we would typically go on with friends because they just weren’t in our budget because of the combination of expenses we are having transition to our digital nomad lifestyle and the drop in the value of my unvested RSUs in the River company.


You're missing the point. I'm not saying it's not possible, I'm saying there is a social cost and friction involved, which makes it a not so easy choice especially for younger people just starting their careers and needing to form those social networks.

The things you can do as a married couple with an established social circle are quite different.


That’s an even easier choice to make. I’m very cognizant of my fixed expenses. But if I know my company is going through a rough period - and let’s be honest Twitter has never been flying high - I’m going to cut my variable expenses down so I can have an oh shit fund. This isn’t my just speaking from the experience of a 48 year old who has been in the industry long enough to see the dot com bust, the financial crisis and Covid. I immediately focused on savings the day I graduated from college.


Then don’t have above average outgoing expenses that put you at the mercy of a tyrant?

I’m 48 now and I learned a long time ago after my first job to always live in a position of f*^k you (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xdfeXqHFmPI). I believed in living like that from 1999 when I was making $60K a year, for the next 20 years when I was bumping around as your bog standard journeyman CRUD Enterprise developer and after that when I pivoted slightly to get into BigTech.

You are seeing the consequences right now of what happens when you let lifestyle inflation happen.


> If you have above average income, most likely you will have above average outgoings, including on things you can't instantaneously cut like housing costs, car finance and school fees.

Not to mention if you have costly medical conditions or past medical debt to pay, if you have college debt to pay, if you're financially supporting your parents, if you are paying for past judgments, alimony, or child support... There are a lot of valid reasons for not being able to save, despite having a high income, that have nothing to do with living like a wealthy person.


And yet people making a quarter of the compensation manage to survive.

The median household income in the US is $70K


As just one example of why that's a flawed way of looking at it, things like alimony and child support are calculated on your income, not on how much you actually live on and put away in savings. So a person earning $120k will all else being equal pay 70% more for those things than someone earning $70k, whether or not they live a less flashy lifestyle.

People often also incur substantial costs, almost being wiped out, in moving from poorer countries to places like the US, where they hope to make up the difference and more later on in the new country. If they're laid off just a few years in that could be too soon to have rebuilt their savings.

Nor is it reasonable to demand that everyone live as though they're only earning $70k. Saving is good and should be encouraged, but let's not pretend everyone is in the position to be able to save up 6-12 months of income.


> People often also incur substantial costs, almost being wiped out, in moving from poorer countries to places like the US, where they hope to make up the difference and more later on in the new country. If they're laid off just a few years in that could be too soon to have rebuilt their savings

And most of them would probably be here on an immigrant visa for the first decade (?). I specifically said that I understand why they wouldn’t be able to quit.

> Nor is it reasonable to demand that everyone live as though they're only earning $70k. Saving is good and should be encouraged, but let's not pretend everyone is in the position to be able to save up 6-12 months of income

It’s not a “demand” and the result and risk that you take by thinking you are above living below your means should be apparent by what’s happening at Twitter.

Since 1996 - the day I entered the workforce as a developer - the number of days I spent worrying about “burnout” after 3 years, a decent resume and savings, was 0. When the pay/bullshit ratio got too high I left. Yes this was in 2000 during the dot com boom, 2008 during the recession and 2020 during Covid.


The median savings (not including retirement funds, since we are talking about the go-to-hell fund) is $3,240 for people under 35 and $6,400 for people 55-64[1]. The median USA household is surviving but not successfully saving.

1: https://www.marketwatch.com/picks/heres-exactly-how-much-ame...


So if the median household is “surviving” someone making twice as much (your typical mid level “enterprise developer” in any major city in the US) can’t thrive or someone working at Twitter who is making three times as much can’t save?


I'm saying everyone's situation is different and unique, and it is conceivable that someone making 3X the median income may not, even with effort, be able to save, just as it is conceivable that someone making 1X the median income may, with effort, manage to save go-to-hell money.


They aren’t able to save because they made different lifestyle choices than the person living in their same metro area making half as much .


What do you mean with social cost? Ranking lower in status?


Status, yes.

If you earn good money similar to your peers, your social opportunities will often be commensurate with those earnings.

If people know you earn less you may find them sympathetic eg suggesting cheaper social options. But if they know you earn as much as or even more than them, they may not look upon you so happily. They feel in a way cheated that instead of spending your money on time with them, you save it for future-you. Kind of selfish, it could be argued.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeping_up_with_the_Joneses

I think it's become a matter of pluralistic ignorance [0], especially in the last few decades. Norms have a way of sticking around longer than the social consequences for not following them.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluralistic_ignorance


I would love an answer to that question. Until recently, my wife and I both had 11 year old low end cars, then when I started working remotely, we had one car when I gave my other one to my son who didn’t live with us.

We also had a house built in 2016 and purposefully chose the cheapest floor plan and even that was 3000 square feet (builders won’t build small houses)


Note that any Twitter staff who had been paid in options or RSUs will have had a conversion event turning them in to cash when the sale happened, so I would expect most of the senior and long term staff to have just had a windfall.


This is not true. The RSU grants converted to cash but maintained the same vesting payment schedule; so effectively the same as RSUs with all upside removed. You don't get the money if you don't stay. And also, the $54 price is not a slam dunk for employees with RSU grants issued during the market highs from last year. TWTR peaked over $80, so depending on when you joined your equity is still down a significant amount.


I am currently applying to work at Twitter, and I am a US citizen.

The reason is because Twitter is the most interesting company in the entire world to work at right now.

Not everything is some monetary math equation, of the best dollar per hour rate you can get.

I want to work on something interesting and right now that is Twitter.

If I want to rest and vest, I'd go work at Google.


Good question, but the better question might be if there is anyone except H1B visa holders left in the US.


Does anyone think these decisions are best for Twitter at this time?


Unhinged tweeting at odd hours, erratic decisions, irritability, lack of sleep, extreme defensiveness, vengefulness ("let's shame the advertisers"!), demands for unquestioned loyalty. Where have we seen this before?

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/16/business/elon-musk-interv...

"But this has worried some board members, who have noted that sometimes the drug [Ambien] does not put Mr. Musk to sleep but instead contributes to late-night Twitter sessions, according to a person familiar with the board’s thinking."

This man is a walking zombie on no sleep. I just wonder if he is naturally this wired or he is crashing on upper/downer pills, like Trump did.


This should serve as a warning to everybody working at any of Musk's companies. Musk is unstable and unpredictable. You can't afford to put your career in his hands. The time to leave is now.


Time to unionize.


Seriously, how far can they take it? Some of these people could lose 99% of their wealth, and then 99% of what was left over, and still have tens of millions of dollars. These abject displays of cruelty are really pushing the limits.


Might be a little late for Twitter workers at this point


Well, hopefully the rest of the industry learns a lesson. The next years we’ll see layoffs, even more unpaid extra hours and decreasing standards. Without unions or any kind of labour organization SWE will be just exploited even more.


Not impossible, but highly not possible.

If everybody (and i mean everybody) would walk out and demand better terms, things would get pretty tense very quickly.


That’s how you fight battles. Being soft gets you stomped on.


I agree. The situation really shows how little the law protects the workers.


How many engineers did Instagram have when it was acquired by FB? (answer: 6 engineers with 30 million users: https://www.fastcompany.com/3047642/do-the-simple-thing-firs...)

Obviously, those were highly competent engineers, but perhaps Elon Musk is just trying to get to roughly the same proportion (~60?).

If so, he's still got a long, long way to go, so expect a lot more cutting.


Instagram, when it was acquired, wasn't too concerned about making money: It was still VC funded, and was looking at raising another round.

The founders controlled the small set of features available, and weren't beholden to, say, trying to include targeted ads or adding shopping to the platform. They certainly weren't concerned about bots, child pornography, state sponsored actors, data warehouses to store and analyze data for FCC decrees, the list goes on.

It's very easy, looking in, to handwave away complexity that creeps into a business and its technology and assume it's a lack of engineering skill. Do a reality check: Compare Twitter to other similar companies e.g. Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Bytedance, Snap ... are these companies ran by 6 10x engineers? 60? Do you think EVERYONE is stupid or is unaware of how to do software engineering or is there complexity here you may be ignorant of? It's obvious Elon thinks the former here.


Instagram, at the time, was significantly limited in functionality. IG didn't have Android and web support until 2012, it was iOS only until then.

The more features you offer, the more complex your system needs to be, the more people you need to maintain and build on top of the system.


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