October 2, 2023

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Musk paints a bleak picture, remote work ends, in Twitter staff email

Musk paints a bleak picture, remote work ends, in Twitter staff email

SAN FRANCISCO – Two weeks after closing a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter, Elon Musk He sent emails to the social media company’s employees late Wednesday, his first contact with them after mass layoffs and heavy pressure to innovate new products.

In two emails seen by The New York Times, Mr. Musk painted a bleak financial picture for Twitter and outlined changes at the company, including ending its remote work policy and a renewed focus on revenue generation and combating spam.

“Sorry this is the first email I’ve sent to the company, but there is no way to color the message,” Mr. Musk, 51, wrote in one email. “The upcoming economic picture is terrible.” He added that Twitter was too dependent on ads and prone to a decline in brand spending and would need to boost the revenue it gets from subscriptions.

On another note to employees, he wrote that “the absolute top priority is to find and suspend any verified bots/trolls/spam.”

Mr. Musk’s emails came as Twitter continues to be affected by his changes. Last week, he Cut about 50 percent of the company’s 7,500 employees. At the same time, Mr. Musk was pushing for product changes that would Help Twitter make more money, including the promotion of a product with a subscription. He previously said the company was losing $4 million a day.

Twitter, whose communications department has been laid off almost entirely, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bloomberg I mentioned earlier emails to Mr. Musk.

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On Wednesday, three senior Twitter executives responsible for security, privacy and compliance also resigned, according to two people familiar with the matter and internal documents seen by The Times.

Among the departing executives are Leah Kesner, Twitter’s chief information security officer; Damien Keran, Chief Privacy Officer; and Marian Fogarty, Chief Compliance Officer. Their resignations came a day before Twitter’s deadline to file a compliance report with the Federal Trade Commission, which oversees the company’s privacy practices as part of a 2011 settlement.

Twitter has typically reviewed its products for privacy issues before they are presented to users, to avoid additional FTC fines and remain committed to the settlement. But because of the rapid pace of product development under Mr. Musk, engineers can be forced to “self-certify” that their projects meet privacy requirements, one employee wrote in an internal letter seen by The Times.

The employee wrote: “Elon has shown that he is only interested in making up for the losses he has incurred as a result of his failure to exit his binding obligation to purchase Twitter.” The person warned that changes to FTC ratings on Twitter could result in heavy fines and put people working for the company at risk.

“This would place an enormous amount of personal, professional, and legal risk on engineers: I expect you will all be pressured by management to push for changes likely to lead to major accidents,” the employee wrote.

A spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter is under pressure to make money. To fund the acquisition, Mr. Musk took on $13 billion in debt, which would require Twitter to pay out more than $1 billion annually in interest only.

The company earns about 90 percent of its revenue from advertisers, some of whom have moved away from the platform in recent days due to uncertainty about Mr. Musk’s commitment to removing toxic content from Twitter. He responded by threatening a “Thermonuclear name and shame” of advertisers who have chosen to stop their spending.

Mr. Musk also raced to find revenue from new subscriptions. One of his first projects was to renew the subscription service. blue twitter. He raised the price to $8 per month and said subscribers would get a verification token, which Twitter usually gives away to high profile users like celebrities and politicians.

In an email to employees on Wednesday, Musk said the subscriptions should eventually represent about half of the company’s revenue. “Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the next economic downturn,” he wrote.

Mr Musk also told employees that they must return to the office on Thursday and work from there for a minimum of 40 hours a week. Twitter’s workforce has been remote since the start of the pandemic, and in recent years its employees have been allowed to choose where they want to live rather than stay in the cities where the company has offices.

At some of Mr Musk’s other companies, including electric car maker Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX, he also said employees Must come to the office to work 40 hours a week.

David McCabeContribute to the preparation of reports.