Elon Musk’s orders were clear: Close the data center.
Early on Christmas Eve, members of the billionaire’s staff flew to Sacramento — the site of one of Twitter’s three main computing storage facilities — to disconnect servers that had kept the social network running smoothly. Some employees were worried that losing those servers could cause problems, but saving money was the priority, according to two people who were familiar with the move but not authorized to talk about it.
The data center shutdown was one of many drastic steps Mr. Musk has undertaken to stabilize Twitter’s finances. Over the past few weeks, Twitter had stopped paying millions of dollars in rent and services, and Mr. Musk had told his subordinates to renegotiate those agreements or simply end them. The company has stopped paying rent at its Seattle office, leading it to face eviction, two people familiar with the matter said. Janitorial and security services have been cut, and in some cases employees have resorted to bringing their own toilet paper to the office.
Mr. Musk bought the social network for $44 billion in late October, saddling it with debt that will require him to pay about $1 billion in interest annually. Speaking on a live forum on Twitter last week, Mr. Musk compared the company to a “plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.” Twitter was on track to have a “negative cash flow situation” of about $3 billion in 2023, he said, citing a depressed advertising environment and increased costs, like the debt payments.
“That’s why I spent the last five weeks cutting costs like crazy,” he said.
Those cuts may be yielding consequences. On Wednesday, users around the world reported service interruptions with Twitter. Some were logged out, while others encountered error messages while visiting the website. Twitter has not explained what caused the temporary outage. Three people familiar with the company’s infrastructure said that if the Sacramento facility had still been operating, it could have helped alleviate the problem by providing backup computing capacity when other data centers failed.
Twitter, which has eliminated its communications department, and Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment. [Continue reading…]