Twitter Inc. employees were to receive On Monday off, on the company’s monthly “day of rest”. But Elon Musk made it difficult not to think about work.
Musk, the billionaire who revealed this month that he would become Twitter’s largest single contributor, backed away from a plan to join the company’s board over the weekend. Days ago, CEO Parag Agrawal laid the foundation for a cordial relationship by inviting Musk to join the board of directors. The company was confident that he would accept Musk’s inclusion as a board member on its investor relations website. Mr. Agrawal also organized a question-and-answer session with Musk and staff this week.
For some employees, the reversal signals chaos: Musk has been continuing to send his tweets to his more than 80 million followers on the site, without any requirement to act in the company’s best interests. Q&A has been cancelled.
In his announcement late Sunday, Agrawal penned Musk’s surprising decision as a good thing for Twitter, but warned of “distractors ahead.”
Staff said the wounds were overwhelming. Some, who asked not to be named while discussing internal company details, said the atmosphere among Twitter workers was “highly tense”, with employees working together to help each other out during the week.
In recent days, Musk has been tweeting product ideas from eliminating ads for members of the Twitter subscription service to turning part of his San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter. Without a seat on the board, there are no longer restrictions on the number of shares he can buy or his tweets; One employee expressed concern that Musk was “just getting started, which is unfortunate.” Several workers described the situation as a “bad review”.
Some Twitter employees had mixed feelings about attending a Ask Me Anything session with Musk anyway. It may have made clear whether Musk had plans to be friendly or hostile with his stake, but it could also have raised more questions about how to respond to his whims.
“Mask’s immediate horrific effect was something that bothered me greatly,” Roman Choudhury, director of the AI research team at Twitter, posted on the social networking site.
Meanwhile, Musk fans on Twitter shared criticism of the product, following his lead. “Twitter has a nice culture of funny constructive criticism, and I’ve seen it get silenced by its followers attacking employees,” Roman Choudhury said.
The sudden change of heart for Musk on the council bench also sparked speculation about his end. By not joining the board of directors, Musk, who owns more than 9% of the company, is no longer subject to a freeze agreement that would have set his stake at 14.9%.
“This decision by Elon does not bode well for Twitter,” said Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, as it may increase its stake while posting increasingly hostile things about the platform. “Twitter thinks having Trump on the podium has been difficult. Elon Musk would be a nightmare for the company.”