Elon Musk redesigned Twitter’s front page less than 24 hours after paying 44 billion to acquire the company.
According to individuals familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were speaking without the company’s permission, he requested that logged-out visitors visiting Twitter.com be diverted to the Explore page, which highlights trending tweets and news items. Previously, if you went to the Twitter homepage without being signed in, all you would see was a sign-up form that would prompt you to create an account in order to see any tweets. Late on Friday, Musk issued an order that was enacted with the help of a Vice President to prevent disgruntled employees from making changes to the system during the takeover.
The message to the staff who saw the shift was clear: no more sacred cows, even if Musk didn’t publicly express a reason for the change. Such a choice would have been argued about for weeks inside the old Twitter. However, this was not your typical Twitter. The advice of a previous CEO who advised me: “That’s one way to make it apparent you’re in control now”
You can show everyone who’s boss by doing that.
Musk, less than three days into his rule as “Chief Twit,” has already begun rapidly transforming Twitter from the inside out, as seen by the redesign of the company’s site. Meanwhile, he has pushed through a number of changes to Twitter itself, including rebranding a paid membership service previously known as “Super Follows” as “Subscriptions” and planning to lay off a large number of people in the coming days. Additionally, he has considered expanding Twitter’s reach into countries where it is censored by employing SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service.
In order to meet Musk’s deadlines, employees have laboured late into the night and over the weekend, while their supervisors have been compiling layoff lists. According to a source with knowledge of the issue, when Musk sacked ex-CEO Parag Agrawal and other senior executives last week, he did so “for cause” to avoid paying out the tens of millions of dollars in shares they would otherwise earn. (It was initially reported by The Information that Musk had fired the Twitter executives for reason.)
There is widespread unease among workers that layoffs will begin before November 1st, when a sizable portion of them would be eligible to receive stock awards paid out in cash at 54.20 per share. Musk responded to a tweet that included another news saying the layoffs will occur before that date by writing, “This is incorrect.”
Meanwhile, Musk is consulting his close friends and family for insight about his new purchase. He has retreated to a secure portion of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, complete with a fleet of Teslas and more guards. Employees and internal communications obtained by The Verge suggest that dozens of people from his family office, other enterprises, and social circles have been added to Twitter’s employee directory and given work email addresses.
Among them are Alex Spiro, Musk’s personal lawyer and Twitter’s de facto general counsel; Andrew Musk, a relative who works for Musk’s brain-interface startup Neuralink; Jehn Balajadia, COO of The Boring Company; David Sacks, an influential political donor and fellow “PayPal mafia” member; Jason Calacanis, a venture capitalist and longtime friend of Musk’s; and Sriram Krishnan, a former Twitter (It was initially reported by The New York Times that some of these individuals were meeting with Twitter staff.)
Twitter’s previous head of product, Kayvon Beykpour, who was let go by Agrawal in May, was spotted at work last Friday, fueling speculation that he may be returning. Jay Sullivan, Twitter’s current head of product, is still employed there, which complicates things.
In the upcoming weeks, “Twitter will be laser-focused on identification and safety.”
As reported on Twitter by Calacanis on Saturday, he recently met with Twitter’s head of safety, Yoel Roth, and “was pleased with his attention to & perspective on security concerns.” Roth was a guest on the All-In podcast earlier this year, on which Musk was a guest. The tweet referenced a conversation in which Roth said that users engaging in a “trolling campaign” of tweeting racist insults will be banned. Calacanis then tweeted, “Twitter will be laser-focused on identification and safety in the next weeks.”
Musk’s first priority has been to choose which of Twitter’s engineering staff he wishes to retain. On Friday, engineers brought copies of their most recent code contributions over the previous 30-60 days for assessment by Musk and Tesla engineers. As reported originally by Platformer’s Casey Newton, they were then instructed to destroy the printouts and demonstrate the code only on their computers. Expecting Musk and the Tesla engineers to visit the company’s New York City office on Monday to resume code reviews, some engineers have been riveted to a Twitter account that follows the locations of Musk’s private plane.
Managers have been informed that Musk wants to weed out engineering managers who do not frequently write code by doing these reviews to evaluate who can work at the speed and efficiency he requires. It’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse if a software manager can’t create good code, he tweeted in May.
The Twitter communications team did not respond to a request for comment for this article, since they have not been fielding media requests since Musk’s takeover.