Less than 24 hours after completing his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk decided to change his homepage.
He requested logged out users visiting Twitter.com are redirected to the Explore page which shows trending tweets and news stories, according to employees familiar with the matter who wished to remain anonymous to speak without permission from the company. Previously, visiting the Twitter homepage while logged out only showed a login form, encouraging account creation to view tweets. Musk’s directive, which was implemented late Friday, required the involvement of the VP to overturn a code freeze that was put in place to prevent rogue staffers from making changes during the acquisition process.
While Musk didn’t broadly explain the reason for the change, the message to the employees who observed it was clear: no more sacred cows. Within the old Twitter, such a decision would have been fought between teams for weeks. But this was the new Twitter. As a former director told me, “That’s certainly one way to show you’re in charge now.”
“That is certainly a way to show that you are now in charge”
Changing Twitter’s homepage is an example of how, less than three days after his reign as “Chief Twit,” Musk began to rapidly change the company from within. Even as he prepares to lay off a significant portion of his employees in the coming days, he has accelerated changes to Twitter itself, such as ordering its paid subscription feature, Super Follows, rebranded as “Subscriptions” in a hasty update. to the Twitter mobile app. He has also discussed using Starlink, its satellite-based internet service at SpaceX, to make Twitter available in countries where it is currently difficult to access.
Employees assigned to perform Musk’s duties have worked late into the night and into weekends, while their managers prepared lists of team members to fire. When Musk fired ex-CEO Parag Agrawal and other top executives last week, he did so “for a reason” in an effort to avoid paying out the tens of millions in stock they would otherwise get, said a person confessing is with the situation. (The information reported first that Musk fired the Twitter execs for a reason.)
Now, workers fear layoffs will come before Nov. 1, when a significant percentage of them are expected to receive stock grants paid in cash at $54.20 per share. Shortly after this story was published, Musk tweeted “This is not true” in response to a tweet with a different story claiming the layoffs would take place before that date.
Meanwhile, Musk relies on his inner circle to help him better understand what he just bought. He’s holed up in a cordoned off area of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters with a fleet of Teslas parked outside and new guards manning the entrance. Dozens of people from his family office, other businesses and social circles have been added to Twitter’s employee list and have been given company email addresses, according to employees and internal correspondence sent by The edge.
They include Alex Spiro, Musk’s personal attorney who acts as Twitter’s de facto general counsel; Andrew Musk, his relative who works for his brain interface startup Neuralink; Jehn Balajadia, COO of The Boring Company; David Sacks, an influential political donor and fellow member of the “PayPal mafia”; Jason Calacanis, a VC and longtime friend of Musk; and Sriram Krishnan, a former Twitter product leader and current VC at Andreessen Horowitz, who is also friends with Musk. (The New York Times first reported that some of these people met with Twitter employees.)
Kayvon Beykpour, the former Twitter product head who was fired by Agrawal in May, was also seen in the office last Friday, raising rumors that he might return. That idea complicates the fact that Twitter’s current head of product, Jay Sullivan, is still with the company.
“Twitter will be laser-focused on identity and security in the coming weeks”
On Saturday, Calacanis, who co-hosts the popular Everything in podcast that Musk was a guest on earlier this year, tweeted that he had met Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security, and was “impressed with his dedication to and perspective on security issues.” The tweet quoted a thread by Roth detailing how the company banned accounts involved in a “trolling campaign” that involved tweeting racist comments. “Twitter will be laser-focused on identity and security in the coming weeks,” Calacanis continued in another tweet.
Musk’s first assignment was figuring out who to keep in Twitter’s tech organization. On Friday, engineers were asked to print out their recent code contributions from the past 30 to 60 days and have them reviewed by engineers from Musk and Tesla. They were then quickly told to shred their prints and instead show the code on their computer, such as: first reported by Platformer’s Casey Newton. Some engineers are glued to a Twitter account tracking the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet, with the expectation that he and Tesla engineers will visit the company’s New York City office Monday to continue code reviews.
Executives have been told the purpose of the assessments is to help Musk see who can work with the speed and efficiency he demands, and to eliminate technical executives who don’t write code regularly. “Software managers have to write great software, otherwise it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!” he tweeted in may.
Twitter’s communications department, which has been unresponsive to press inquiries since the Musk acquisition, has not responded to a request for comment for this story.
Update October 30, 5:40 PM ET: Added a tweet from Musk disproving the claim that Twitter layoffs would occur before November 1.