I’ve long perceived Twitter as the Motor Vehicles equivalent of the tech industry. The view is predicated on my dim view of Twitter, a town hall sewage system that has caused great harm to public discourse in America. My expectation is that those with genuine tech talent and ambition would choose to work at pioneering companies like Apple and Amazon that are overseen by grownups or Tesla and SpaceX that appeal to those who want to revolutionize the automotive industry or colonize Mars.
Working at a company that served as the propaganda arm of the government and censored U.S. citizens who dared to question official mandates is cause for shame. I wouldn’t be proud to say I was among the engineers who built the infrastructure allowing people to tweet. I say a pox on all their virtual houses in the metaverse.
News that some 1,200 Twitter employees submitted their resignations Thursday after Elon Musk issued an edict saying that the 50 percent of workers he hadn’t yet fired needed to commit to a “hardcore” work ethic or leave the company confirmed my perception the social media outfit was overrun with entitled workers who were coddled by previous management. I’m aghast at the behavior these employees publicly demonstrated, and I’m heartened that I’m not alone. Here’s a portion of a comment that Devon Santo, a Seattle area consultant, wrote under a LinkedIn post I published about the resignations.
“I don’t know how long they were at Twitter, but a 3-month severance is better than almost everyone else gets and if they weren’t serious about making a difference, why were they even there? I saw that Twitter HQ had an “Elon Musk is a:” scrolling sign of crude and deplorable sayings. Can you imagine being so psycho to do something like that?
The corporate media has demonstrated an appalling naivete or dishonesty in its coverage of the resignations, with the New York Times leading the charge. Here’s the headline the Times posted on the resignations:
I’m doubtful that 1,200 employees independently resigned after receiving Musk’s memo. My hunch is that it was a concerted effort by a coterie of disgruntled workers who figured Twitter would fail without their immediate services and correctly gambled the corporate media would portray them as martyrs for refusing to participate in Elon Musk’s perceived destruction of Twitter and the social media site’s supposed high standards for safeguarding truth and decency.
I’ve recently admitted my disdain for Musk, and I confess I was hoping he’d fail with Twitter and that perhaps the sewer would finally get plugged. But I wanted him to fail by dint of his oversized ego and big mouth, which is how he ended up having to pay $44 billion to acquire the company. Reading the corporate media’s biased coverage of Musk’s overhaul of Twitter and companies like government subsidized GM suddenly feigning pious concern about their “brands” being tarnished if they advertise on the site has left me rooting for Musk’s success.
If Musk succeeds, a lot more is at stake than just Twitter, particularly in the wake of the FTX collapse.
Musk’s success with Tesla and SpaceX stems from the fact he built those organizations from the ground up. The attraction to work at these companies is an opportunity to develop groundbreaking technologies and achievements previously the stuff of science fiction. A writer for the trade publication CleanTechnica who goes by the pen name Frugal Moogal provided insight as to why Tesla can attract A-list employees:
I’ve known a number of people that work or have worked at Tesla in the past. They have told me the pace is unrelenting, but they love it. They feel they have a direct impact in slowing climate change, and that pushes them. Everyone of them knew it would be a crazy adventure going in.
I’m impressed how quickly Musk determined that Twitter was a corporate fire hazard overwrought with dead wood. Within about a week he moved to fire about half the company’s employees and put the remaining half on notice that their days of working from home in their pajamas and being served free lunches were over. He also warned about a potential bankruptcy, hardly an idle threat given that Twitter is bleeding red ink thanks to massive debt Musk heaped on the company to finance his acquisition.
My speculation is that the Twitter employees who quit did so because they knew they couldn’t cut it at the company. It was a face-saving move, rather than a protest of Musk’s questionable ethics and morals. I imagine many of them expect Musk will be forced to beg them to return, providing an opportunity to demonstrate their importance and demand more money.
That’s a very real possibility, as there have been reports of Musk begging executives who submitted their resignations to remain, only to fire them later. But if he manages to prevail and transforms Twitter into a profitable company operating with less than half of its previous workforce, it will serve as yet another example of how valuations of tech companies are grossly inflated.
When Musk first made his offer to acquire Twitter, the company’s today outstanding stock was valued at $33 billion. Bankrupt FTX was until recently valued at more than $30 billion.
I’m impressed how deep into Twitter’s IT plumbing Musk crawls to identify issues. In a flurry of emails on Friday, the Times reported that Musk first summoned employees “who actually writes software,” to a meeting, then 30 minutes later said he wanted to learn about Twitter’s “tech stack,” which refers to the company’s software and systems, and then asked some employees to fly to San Francisco for an in-person meeting. How many CEOs of publicly traded companies can understand, let alone know, the intricacies of the tech infrastructure that supports their businesses?
What galls me are businesses like GM that rushed to pause their Twitter advertising, ostensibly because they were concerned about their brands getting tarnished appearing on Twitter. The corporate media has joined the fray; CBS News announced during its bottom basement rated newscast on Friday that it was halting its participation on Twitter.
“In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform,” national correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported.
The decision was applauded by veteran journalist Rich Jaroslovsky, who I very much admire and respect.
“One of my cardinal rules of media is that bad content devalues good content,” Jaroslovsky posted on LinkedIn. “If Twitter turns into a cesspool, reputable publishers aren’t going to want to be there.”
Twitter was a cesspool long before Musk acquired the site. Exhibit A is the tweet below from “comedian” Sarah Silverman in response to a comment Donald Trump made regarding climate change. Apologies for the vulgarity, but the tweet is representative of the profundity one finds on Twitter, particularly from celebrities. GM apparently wasn’t bothered by this sort of content.
What’s noteworthy about Silverman is that she does voiceovers in Disney movies, a point noted by former FOX anchor and NBC host Megyn Kelly, for which she got skewered.
There was a time when Disney relentlessly guarded its “family values” brand, but that’s obviously no longer the case. It’s telling that Kelly, who holds conservative views, was ostensibly forced out of a job at NBC News for questioning whether dressing in Black face was offensive, but liberal Silverman was given a pass for actually dressing in Black face.
Elon Musk is a despicable person; someone whose antics are increasingly difficult to defend. It’s a measure of the corporate media’s deplorability that I, and no doubt others, are hoping he makes his Twitter acquisition a success.
As for the Twitter workers who quit on Thursday, here’s a link to job openings at California’s DMV. Lots of career opportunities for them, particularly if their resumes show they quit their jobs on November 17, 2022. Unfortunately, the jobs require coming into the office and there are no free lunches.
Welcome to the real world!