Elon Musk tells Twitter employees he wants to be involved in product
In a company-wide Twitter call today, presumptive buyer Elon Musk answered questions from "tweeps" for the first time.
Will the Tesla and SpaceX CEO's $44 billion offer to buy Twitter actually go through? Your guess is as good as mine -- but the market downturn means that his offer is a bit more steep than it was initially, causing him to drag his feet and dwell on the problem of bots. And if the deal goes through, what will his role be? Who knows. But Musk's Q&A with Twitter employees at least shed a bit of light as to where his head is.
According to a New York Times liveblog of the 45-minute call, Musk said he isn't quite sure what his title at the company will be. But he particularly wants to be involved in product and expects the team to listen to his input on new features. He also added that he's very involved at Tesla, and he would adopt a similar leadership style at Twitter.
As layoffs sweep the tech industry, some Twitter employees asked how Musk's potential acquisition might affect their jobs (questions were relayed through Leslie Berland, Twitter's chief marketing officer).
Again, Musk was vague in his response.
"Right now, costs exceed revenue. That’s not a great situation," he said regarding potential layoffs. Musk has also warned employees about job cuts at Tesla, where he plans to reduce headcount by 10%.
Right now, about a quarter of Twitter's employees work from home. But earlier this month, Musk sent Tesla employees an email with the subject line "To be super clear," stating that all employees need to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office each week.
"Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office," he wrote.
Musk told Twitter employees that it is "much better if you are on location physically," but that exceptional employees might be able to work remotely. This is because the business of running a social media platform is far different from building cars or rockets, which Musk believes is "impossible to do remotely."
"The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence," he wrote in his message to Tesla employees. He claimed that Tesla would have gone bankrupt had he not spent time in the factories, where "those on the line could see [him] working alongside them."
As expected, Musk wants to make Twitter a private company once the deal closes, saying that the platform can be more productive without having to appease activist shareholders.
Yet the acquisition itself is still up in the air -- Musk has claimed that the deal is "on hold" until Twitter can prove that its claims about the number of bots on the platform are legitimate, and Twitter hands over its "firehose" of data. So if he does want to get out of the deal, it won't be easy.
"Twitter has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement," Twitter said in a statement to TechCrunch last week. "We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms."