Elon Musk spoke to staffers at Silicon Valley tech giant Twitter for the first time Thursday, in a virtual meeting that saw the outspoken exec set plans for the company ahead of his $44 billion takeover.
The all-hands meeting, held just after 9 am PT, saw Musk speak to 7,500 employees from a shakily held smartphone, which he looked to be holding in his hand.
Arriving ten minutes late, Musk, 51, utilized a freewheeling Q&A format for the conference, where he addressed topics ranging from free speech, layoffs, and his preference for in-person work.
Musk also mused about the existence of aliens and other space civilizations during the hour-long talk, and affirmed his stance that the social media company should strive to help ‘civilization and consciousness.’
Musk also addressed plans to take the position of CEO of the company ahead of the planned takeover, as well as his own political stance.
It was the billionaire’s first interaction with the company’s thousands of rank-in-file workers, whom he will likely soon take charge of if his buyout proves successful.
Elon Musk spoke to staffers at Silicon Valley tech giant Twitter for the first time Thursday, in a meeting that saw the exec set plans for the company ahead of his $44 billion takeover
It was the billionaire’s first interaction with the company’s thousands of rank-in-file workers, whom he will likely soon take charge of if his buyout proves successful
Reporters said Musk addressed topics ranging from free speech, layoffs, and his preference for in-person work during the hourlong call, held Thursday morning
The Musk-led meeting, much like the man himself, served as an amalgam of both humor and substance.
In it, the South African mogul set the lofty goal of growing the site’s userbase to 1 billion monthly/daily active users – more than four times its current number of users.
The company said in its Q1 2022 earnings that it had 229 million users as of March.
While outlining a plan to achieve that number, Musk declared that the social media would only be truly successful if it can somehow further civilization and collective consciousness, he said.
He further told staff that he felt advertising should remain important for the company – contradicting previous assertions that the site should not run ads, Reuters reported.
‘I think advertising is very important for Twitter,’ Musk said. ‘I’m not against advertising. I would probably talk to the advertisers and say, like, “hey, let’s just make sure the ads are as entertaining as possible.”‘
While he said he wants ads to be entertaining, Musk proclaimed that he would not allow people to advertise ‘bad products’ that do not deliver on makers’ promises.
Musk, who has described himself as a moderate in recent years but has showed increasingly right-wing views in recent months, was then asked by staffers at the notoriously progressive company about his political views, which have seemed to shift as of late
Musk responded by reiterating that he supports ‘moderate politics’ and that he’s ‘pretty close to center.’
He added that he wants to maintain users’ free speech on the platform, by allowing extreme or ‘outrageous’ views on their social media – as long as they are within the bounds of the law.
Musk went on to say that he has voted Democratic at every election until this week, when he cast a ballot for Republican Texas Rep. Maya Flores – an assertion he had already made on the platform Wednesday.
Meanwhile, world’s richest man Musk is currently embroiled in a months-long deal to but Silicon Valley social media giant Twitter for roughly $44 billion – and his stark anti-remote sentiments would likely fly in the face of the company’s more relaxed work from home rules
Just hours before, Musk announced on the platform that he was leaning toward Conservative Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential next president, and predicted a ‘red wave’ would hit the country come November for midterm elections.
TIMELINE OF BILLIONAIRE ELON MUSK’S BID TO CONTROL TWITTER
January 31: Musk starts buying shares of Twitter in near-daily installments, amassing a 5% stake in the company by mid-March.
March 26: Musk, who has 80 million Twitter followers and is active on the site, said that he is giving ‘serious thought’ to building an alternative to Twitter, questioning free speech on the platform and whether Twitter is undermining democracy. He also privately reaches out to Twitter board members, including his friend and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
March 27: After privately informing them of his growing stake in the company, Musk starts conversations with Twitter’s CEO and board members about potentially joining the board. Musk also mentions taking Twitter private or starting a competitor, according to later regulatory filings.
April 4: A regulatory filing reveals that Musk has rapidly become the largest shareholder of Twitter after acquiring a 9% stake, or 73.5 million shares, worth about $3 billion.
April 5: Musk is offered a seat on Twitter’s board on the condition he amass no more than 14.9% of the company’s stock. CEO Parag Agrawal said in a tweet that ‘it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board.’
April 11: Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announces Musk will not be joining the board after all.
April 14: Twitter reveals in a securities filing that Musk has offered to buy the company outright for about $44 billion.
April 15: Twitter’s board unanimously adopts a ‘poison pill’ defense in response to Musk’s proposed offer, attempting to thwart a hostile takeover.
April 21: Musk lines up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter. Twitter board is under pressure to negotiate.
April 25: Musk reaches a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion and take the company private. The outspoken billionaire has said he wanted to own and privatize Twitter because he thinks it’s not living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.
April 29: Musk sells roughly $8.5 billion worth of shares in Tesla to help fund the purchase of Twitter, according to regulatory filings.
May 5: Musk strengthens his offer to buy Twitter with commitments of more than $7 billion from a diverse group of investors including Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
May 10: In a hint at how he would change Twitter, Musk says he’d reverse Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, calling the ban a ‘morally bad decision’ and ‘foolish in the extreme.’
May 13: Musk said that his plan to buy Twitter is ‘ temporarily on hold.’ Musk said that he needs to pinpoint the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform. Shares of Twitter tumble, while shares of Tesla rebound sharply.
June 6: Musk threatens to end his $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot accounts.
Musk, a staunch libertarian, went on to posit that making Twitter a paid service may prove beneficial to the company.
He said that one of his goals was to make the platform too expensive for foreign entities to feasibly deploy armies of bots – such as those used by Russian agents on the platform to influence the 2016 presidential election – to influence public opinion.
The conversation then turned to Musk’s view on remote working – a subject that seemed to be on the top of the minds of staffers at the meeting, which was moderated by a Twitter executive.
Musk has previously said he would fire Tesla employees if they did not work at least 40 hours a week in their respective offices.
Musk has also hit out against remote working policies in recent months, blasting Americans for ‘trying to avoid going to work at all’ – in contrast to workers in China who stay at the factory ‘burning the 3am oil’.
In a surprising exception, Musk said that only “excellent contributors” should be permitted to work from home and that too many people were dwelling on the idea of remote work.
Meanwhile, as a private company, Musk said that Twitter would have a similar compensation structure to that of SpaceX, offering stock and options awards and liquidity windows every six months.
An employee then asked if the businessman desired to take the position of CEO if the deal – which has been approved but put on pause over Musk’s concerns of the number of fake or spam accounts on the service – does go through.
Musk, however, seemed to brush away the question with a non-answer, saying that he’s not that hung up on titles but does want to ‘drive the product in a particular direction.’
He went on to cite the level of responsibility the role demands, and the ‘chores’ CEOs typically have to deal with.
And while he said that he doesn’t really care what the title is, the mogul went on to assert that people do need to listen to him if the deal goes through.
Then, in a bizarre turn, the conversation turned to extraterrestrials, sources who attended the meeting said.
According to insiders, Musk – going on a tangent – said conceded he hasn’t seen actual evidence of aliens, but added that does not mean they do not exist.
‘I have seen no actual evidence for aliens,’ the Tesla and SpaceX CEO reportedly said.
On the more serious topic of layoffs, Musk said that any nixings would be considered on a performance basis.
In response, employees reportedly wrote in a Slack chatroom meant to send in prospective questions to be approved by the presiding moderator, CMO Leslie Berland, that many of their worries about layoffs, remote work, and diversity measures were confirmed during Musk’s spiel.
Employees reportedly flooded the chatroom with memes where they jokingly branded themselves ‘exceptional’ to fit in with Musk’s proposed remote policy, and complained that Musk was not providing any useful answers on his vision for the company.
According to a source who spoke to CNBC, the majority of the reactions on the Slack messaging board were negative in nature.
The meeting did not see Musk address his commitment to the Twitter deal, which has yet to be finalized.
Sources reportedly said he was not asked the question.
The Tesla Boss has been complaining about fake accounts or bots on the Twitter platform and said that this has complicated his bid to purchase the company for $44billion.
Musk claimed he wanted to pause the deal to verify that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5 percent of the company’s 229 million users during the first quarter.
‘My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does,’ he said.
Musk has speculated that bots could make up at least half of Twitter’s users, more than 10 times the company’s official estimate – an issue that he repeatedly reiterated during Thursday’s discussion.
The tweet caused Twitter’s stocks to nosedive since his deal was announced, as analysts speculated that Musk is trying to negotiate a lower purchase price or pull out of the agreement entirely.
He is currently being investigated by the SEC for those claims.
Twitter shares climbed a bit during the meeting, and and are up 0.8 percent from Wednesday’s close. Tesla’s stock, meanwhile, is still down 7.8 percent, as many question if the mogul can successfully steer three companies ahead of the looming Twitter deal – which will cost Musk a cool $1billion if he backs out.
The SpaceX CEO has seemingly taken a break from running his businesses as the deal sits in limbo, spending time with his new girlfriend, Australian actress Natasha Bassett.
The couple enjoyed a low-key lunch in the billionaires paradise of St Tropez on Monday.
The pair were seen enjoying a meal at the Cheval Blanc hotel, where rooms cost upwards of $1,300-a-night, a drop in the ocean for the world’s richest man.
Musk, and Bassett, the CEO’s youngest girlfriend yet at 27, sat in full view of the hotel’s pool and bathers.
The couple are believed to have started dating in February this year, when they were spotted getting off Musk’s private jet in L.A.
Musk welcomed his second child with ex-girlfriend Grimes in December last year via surrogate. They called quits on their romance two months earlier in September.
Musk has been in the South of France for the last week attending galas and weddings
The pair chatted, drank wine and ate fries as they caught up in between events in the busy Riviera hotspot
Elon Musk and Natasha Bassett saunter bathers who were oblivious to the world’s richest man