Twitter has never been a particularly serene place to work.
Over the years, as innovation projects have stalled, business growth slowed, and a raft of leaders — from founder Jack Dorsey to current chief executive Parag Agrawal — have tossed their various visions of what the company is actually for, into the ring, it hasn’t been smooth sailing.
But many Twitter employees have held onto the knowledge they can cash out their shares at the public company for millions if things get to be too much.
Now, workers say they are at their wits end trying to manage the fallout from the past dramatic week.
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It has seen employees subjected to opaque internal information around what the future of the company will look like, not to mention abuse on the platform from Musk’s Twitter army.
Following a nail-biting week of brinkmanship that kept the tech and business communities on the edge of their seats, Elon’s pledge he would buy Twitter outright become a reality.
This past Monday Twitter agreed to sell itself to Musk for his original offer of US$54.20 a share to take the business private. The company said it expected the deal to close this year.
The world’s richest man now owns the microblogging platform that has been called everything from “the world’s town square” to an “amphitheater for transatlantic elite psychodrama” for the world leaders, celebrities and other business and media elite that hold its greatest share of attention.
Musk has said he would prioritise free speech on the site, open-source its algorithms, eliminate spam and add new features.
But inside Twitter, employees have been exchanging worried messages in private group chats and sending SOS signals to journalists in leaks that reveal concerns about the future of their jobs and workplace under Musk.
In recent days Musk has aired a raft of criticisms at the company he will soon own.
He has also publicly denigrated current employees and leadership.
On Wednesday, Musk tweeted a meme to his more than 86 million followers with the face of Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, that appeared to suggest the company’s decisions are affected by a “left wing bias”.
To single out company executives, while also weighing in on conspiracy theories around the company, “creates needless new turmoil at the company during an already turbulent time,” US tech journalist Casey Newton wrote.
Newton said employees at the company told him anonymously they have been doxxed by trolls in the past few days after responding to Musk’s tweets.
And since Monday workers say they have been left largely in the dark about what the transition will look like, including how much the company could change from the one they signed up to work for, The New York Times reported.
Even before the deal was accepted, engineers that worked to remove hate speech and better moderate the platform had aired concerns about whether their work would be abandoned.
“A M*sk-owned Twitter is one of the greatest threats to the 2022 and 2024 elections. We are f***ed if this happens,” one employee reportedly wrote on Twitter.
A reliability engineering manager said Musk’s views on free speech, “is cover for, ‘I want to not be held accountable for saying or amplifying harmful things’.”
Beyond this week, there is also a trail of accusations leveled against Musk over the years by workers at Musk’s other companies including Tesla and SpaceX.
Women at Tesla and SpaceX have made accusations of sexual harassment, and Tesla has been dogged for years by allegations of racist abuse and discrimination.
“At a company with strong leadership, or really any leadership at all, this would be a moment for a CEO or the board to stand up for their teams,” Newton wrote.
Musk is sowing chaos and causing emotional turmoil for its employees instead.