Twitter will only have room for “extremely hardcore” employees who put in long hours at high intensity, the company’s new owner Elon Musk told staff Wednesday morning.
“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” Musk wrote in an email to employees.
Those who wish to work normal hours at regular intensity can leave the company with three months’ severance, according to the note.
The stark ultimatum and demanding tone contrasted sharply with Musk’s own performance at Twitter, which is exceptional mostly for the sheer volume and severity of disasters there since he took the reins last month in a $44 billion acquisition.
He has presided over mass layoffs that spurred a class-action lawsuit. He undermined trust in the platform by promoting a conspiracy theory within days of assuming leadership. The company’s security protocols have fallen into disarray. And his improvised-in-real-time system of verifying profiles to crack down on fake accounts has spurred a wave of impersonation, seeding confusion over everything from the price of insulin to whether former President George W. Bush misses killing Iraqis.
Through it all, Musk has remained glued to the platform itself, sharing inane thoughts about “population collapse,” publicly arguing with a critical employee that he later fired, and at times seeming to base key decisions — like how much to charge for verification — on little more than interactions with users. Musk raised the possibility of bankruptcy as soon as next year on a call with employees last week.
The company will also become “much more engineering-driven,” the new boss wrote in Wednesday’s email, privileging great code over design and product management.
“At its heart, Twitter is a software and servers company, so I think this makes sense,” Musk wrote.
Twitter doesn’t earn its revenue from software or servers. The company operates like a publisher, attracting users who share their thoughts and read those of others on the platform, then charging advertisers to access that audience.
Musk has repeatedly said since taking over that he’ll prioritize boosting the company’s subscription revenue by charging for the blue check marks that Twitter uses to verify some users’ identities, pleading with critics that “We need to pay the bills somehow!”
Trying to salvage a sinking business by guilting readers into paying more for the service is also a hallmark of the publishing industry.