Layoffs, ultimatums and an ongoing saga of blue marks: Elon Musk’s first month on Twitter | CNN Business

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Sunday officially marks one month since the world’s richest man took over Twitter.

In that time, Elon Musk initiated mass layoffs and gave remaining employees a cryptic ultimatum, reinstated the accounts of controversial figures including former President Donald Trump, and pitched, then launched, a plan to cash in on the blue brands Twitter icons.

After spending months embroiled in an unsuccessful legal battle to get out of his initial proposal to buy Twitter, Musk made his first splashy entrance to the company’s offices on Oct. 26, carrying a sink. (In a video of the incident shared on Twitter, he wrote: “Entering Twitter HQ, let it sink in!)

Since then, the billionaire seems to have left no stone unturned in his first month as “Chief Twit.” Here’s a look at the variety of ways Musk (who is still, at the same time, CEO of his other companies Tesla and SpaceX) has already made his mark on one of the world’s most influential social media platforms.

Almost immediately after Musk completed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, he fired former CEO Parag Agrawal and other executives. He then became the CEO and sole director of the platform, according to a securities filing.

The dramatic leadership transformation, however, was only the first taste of the major staff overhaul that was to come. Musk began broad layoffs across the company, reducing its global workforce by roughly 50% in a couple of days.

On the eve of November 3 and into November 4, numerous now-former Twitter employees began posting on the platform that their company email accounts had been blocked as job cuts began to take hold. to occur in a public and very dramatic way. .

The layoffs affected departments such as ethical AI, marketing and communications, search, public policy and more. While workers bid farewell to their colleagues online — many sharing blue hearts and greeting emojis to indicate they’d lost their jobs on Twitter — Musk remained largely silent, at least about the job cuts.

In another dramatic move by the new boss, Musk publicly fired a software engineer who had survived the initial round of cuts but later questioned Musk on Twitter.

In an internal email the night after the massive staff cuts, Musk asked Twitter’s remaining employees to commit to working “extremely hard” or leave the company with severance pay.

“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will have to be extremely tough,” Musk wrote in the memo sent on Nov. 16. “This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

In the memo, Musk goes on to explain how Twitter will be “much more engineering-driven” and then gives staff an ultimatum. “If you’re sure you want to be a part of the new Twitter, click yes on the link below,” directing staff to what appears to be an online form.

Musk said any employee who didn’t do so by 5 p.m. ET the next day, Thursday, would receive three months of layoff.

In the shadow of the mass exodus of workers, an exodus of advertisers was also being prepared.

Since Musk’s acquisition, a handful of brands, from General Mills to North Face to Volkswagen Group, have confirmed a pause in advertising on the social network, as civil society organizations come up with a new concern about the direction of the company under Musk.

About a week after taking over the company, Musk said he had seen a “massive drop in revenue.”

“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, although nothing has changed with content moderation and we did our best to appease activists,” he said in a tweet. on November 4. “Extremely messy. up! They are trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Another aspect of Twitter that Musk was quick to change is one of the platform’s most familiar features to its users: the blue verified checks that had long been used to confirm the authenticity of government officials, journalists and others public figures

“Twitter’s current lords and peasants system of who has or doesn’t have a blue tick is bullshit,” Musk tweeted on Nov. 1. “Power to the people! Blue for $8 a month.

Sure enough, on November 5, Twitter released an updated version of its iOS app that allowed users to pay a monthly subscription fee to receive a blue check mark on their profiles. The update, as described on Apple’s App Store at the time, said users would now have to pay $7.99 a month for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription to receive a brand of verification on the platform, “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow.”

Within days of the subscription service’s launch, Twitter was inundated with a wave of celebrity and corporate impersonators who quickly played around with the new system to impersonate brands and prominent figures.

Chaos ensued. In one viral example, a fake account, featuring a newly purchased blue checkmark, pretending to be pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly tweeted that a critical diabetes drug would now be free.

In the wake of the chaos, Musk eventually announced that he would delay the launch of the subscription service until the end of the month.

“Targeting Blue Verified relaunch for November 29th to make sure it’s rock solid,” Musk tweeted on November 15th.

On November 24, Musk gave a slightly different target date for the relaunch, December 2, and offered more details about the future service, including a range of verification mark colors to indicate the type of verified account.

On November 19, Musk restored former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, nearly two years after it was permanently banned following the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

The move came shortly after Twitter restored the accounts of other previously banned or suspended controversial users, including conservative Canadian podcaster Jordan Peterson, right-wing satire website Babylon Bee, comedian Kathy Griffin and the Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Before restoring Trump’s Twitter account, Musk posted a poll asking users of the platform if Trump should be reinstated, in which a small majority (51.8%) voted yes.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” (Latin for “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”)

Trump has previously said he would stick to his own platform, Truth Social, rather than rejoin Twitter, and has yet to tweet since his account came back online.

But a shift in his approach could have major policy implications, as Trump has said he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

After conducting another survey on Twitter, Musk said on November 24 that he will begin restoring most of the previously banned accounts on Twitter starting next week. This would mark its most far-reaching move yet to undo the social media platform’s policy of permanently suspending users who repeatedly violate its rules.

The Thanksgiving announcement came after a majority of respondents voted yes in their poll on whether to offer “blanket amnesty to suspended accounts, as long as they haven’t broken the law or engaged in mail Blatant rubbish.”

Once again, Musk tweeted that “the people have spoken.”

His recent decisions to reinstate previously banned accounts, based on the results of his polls on the platform, are markedly at odds with how Musk previously said he would handle those options.

Just a day after his takeover of Twitter, Musk said the social media company will “form a content moderation board with very diverse viewpoints.”

“No major content decisions or account resets will occur before this board convenes,” Musk added

It was not immediately clear whether that board was created, convened or involved in the decision-making to bring back Trump and the previously banned accounts.

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