Jun 16, 2022 - Technology

Musk takes heat from Twitter employees at town hall

Photo illustration of Elon Musk holding the twitter logo
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk met with Twitter employees Thursday for the first time since he started his effort to acquire the company.

What's happening: Musk told a company town hall meeting that he wants to make the platform a haven for free speech, open-source the algorithm that determines what posts users see and use China's WeChat as a model for how Twitter could move to the center of users' lives.

Why it matters: Musk's bid to purchase Twitter has been a rollercoaster ride, with the billionaire threatening to pull out unless the company provides more information about bots and fake accounts on the service.

What else he's saying, per an Axios source on the call:

  • On remote work: Musk, who has told employees at Tesla that they should work 40 hours on-site or leave the company, left a little more wiggle room for Twitter workers. "Exceptional" employees could keep working remotely, he said, but he believes remote work harms morale.
  • On whether he will be Twitter's CEO: He said that's not the title he has at Tesla, and that he intends to focus on making product-related decisions at the company.
  • On diversity and inclusion: Musk said his idea of inclusion is getting Twitter to a billion users. He said he believes the company itself should be a "meritocracy."
  • On why Twitter employees should trust him: "Trust is as trust does."
  • On his long-term goals: Musk said he will judge his success by whether Twitter is "advancing civilization and consciousness."
  • On Twitter as a business: He reiterated his interest in developing more for-pay services. "Right now, costs exceed revenue. That's not a great situation," he said, per live blogs at the New York Times and Bloomberg.
  • On aliens: "I have seen no actual evidence for aliens," he said, although that does not seem to have been one of the questions employees were asking.

Of note: The meeting started 10 minutes late, and employees said they had a hard time hearing Musk, who appeared to be videoconferencing on his phone from a hotel room.

Our thought bubble: If Musk had anything new to tell the world about his plans, he didn't choose to share it with his future employees, and rather than wooing them, he threw down a gauntlet: "If someone is getting useful things done, great. if not, why are they at the company?"

Editor's Note: This story was corrected to reflect Musk met with Twitter employees on Thursday, not Friday.

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