Twitter is becoming Elon

Twitter is becoming Elon

John Herrman writes:

In government, there are numerous terms for rule-by-guy, most of which bring to mind repression, suffering, and cultishness — “I alone can fix it,” etc. But it’s a common enough way to run companies, which tend to be internally authoritarian. Plenty of businesses are clear and direct extensions of their founders’ or executives’ desires, whims, and flaws, although few operate at such a massive scale or under such a well-known figure. In a 2018 Wired investigation into working conditions at Tesla, where Musk’s management style has been frequently criticized, a former employee summed up one of the dilemmas of working at such a company:

Eric Larkin, who helped oversee factory software until he was fired in April, still feels a strong emotional and financial attachment to Tesla. He’d worked there for three years and was proud to be part of something that could reduce carbon in the atmosphere and “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” as the company’s mission statement puts it. “Tesla is the only company positioned to make this world a better place, to really improve the world right now,” Larkin told me. “And Tesla is Elon. How can you be bitter about humanity’s best hope?”

The sentiment was echoed in a recent report in the New York Times, which described the firing of employees who raised concerns about Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior” in response to a report by Insider that the company had settled a sexual-harassment claim against the CEO. In a meeting, employees recalled their manager emphasizing that Musk was in charge, as well as a specific phrasing: “SpaceX is Elon and Elon is SpaceX.”

Tesla is Elon, SpaceX is Elon. Now Twitter is becoming Elon, too. Musk’s deep layoffs and demands that remaining employees prepare to be “hardcore” if they plan to stick around have left the company short-staffed in the extreme, threatening the platform’s stability, security, and, perhaps most consequential, its relationships with advertisers. This slash-and-burn approach makes sense, however, if you assume the goal is to produce or make room for a workforce made of up loyalists — people who will follow Elon wherever he goes. People who want to work for this guy. I suspect, in the long run, that Musk won’t have trouble finding employees that fit that description, even if that means getting rid of almost everyone else first. For some, the draw will just be Musk. For others, it could be more broadly ideological — Musk’s public pronouncements, tweets, and Twitter interactions since the acquisition have taken a clear right turn. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports:

More than a third of Twitter’s top 100 marketers have not advertised on the social media network in the past two weeks, a Washington Post analysis of marketing data found — an indication of the extent of skittishness among advertisers about billionaire Elon Musk’s control of the company.

Dozens of top Twitter advertisers, including 14 of the top 50, have stopped advertising in the few weeks since Musk’s chaotic acquisition of the social media company, according to The Post’s analysis of data from Pathmatics, which offers brand analysis on digital marketing trends.

Ads for blue-chip brands including Jeep and Mars candy, whose corporate parents were among the top 100 U.S. advertisers on the site in the six months before Musk’s purchase, haven’t appeared there since at least Nov. 7, the analysis found. Musk assumed ownership of the site Oct. 27. [Continue reading…]

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