In an unusual move for what has been an unusual takeover bid for Twitter by the world’s richest man, Tesla CEO Elon Musk met virtually with the social platform’s employees.
“Trust is as trust does. I tend to be extremely literal in what I say… One does not (need) to read between the lines. One can simply read the lines,” Mr Musk said in the meeting, according to a tweet from Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s global head of brand experiences and engagement.
Ms Weinstein did not immediately respond to a message for further comment and she subsequently deleted all her tweets about the meeting. Twitter declined to comment.
Mr Musk, according to multiple news reports, also addressed possible layoffs at the company, saying that, right now, “costs exceed revenue. That’s not a great situation”.
He also touched on growth, saying he would like to see Twitter reach a billion users — roughly four times its current user base – and anonymity, where he earlier created a stir when he said he wants to “verify all humans” on the service.
At the meeting, he clarified that this does not mean he wants to have everyone on Twitter use their real names, like on Facebook, since pseudonyms can allow people to express their political views freely, according to The New York Times.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced the all-hands meeting to employees in an email on Monday, saying they would be able to submit questions in advance.
The meeting is a “clear step in the right direction towards the chances of a deal happening and a smart strategic move as Twitter employees have been left in the dark over the past few months and have many questions during this volatile period of uncertainty,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.
One of Mr Musk’s key points at the meeting was to make Twitter “so compelling that you can’t live without it”, Ms Weinstein tweeted.
Mr Musk, who has more than 98 million followers on Twitter and its one of the platform’s most prolific users, also said that while some people “use their hair to express themselves, I use Twitter,” according to Ms Weinstein.
Mr Musk, according to multiple reports, also praised Chinese apps such as TikTok, which he said is good at keeping people engaged and not being “boring,” and WeChat, which he said could be a good model for what Twitter could be.
Mr Musk reached a deal to acquire Twitter in April, but he has clashed with the company repeatedly since then over the number of bots, or fake accounts, that exist on the social media platform.
Mr Musk said he was putting the deal on hold on May 13, although it seems unlikely that he can do that on his own. He said he needed more data from the company about those bot accounts, despite the fact hat Twitter has reported its bot estimates — and its admission that they may be too low — to investors for years.
Twitter employees could have other reasons to be nervous about Mr Musk’s impending takeover. The irascible billionaire has levied a barrage of criticism at the company, from its moderation and safety policies, which he terms a threat to “free speech,” to its anonymous user accounts, which he would like to eliminate, to its ban of former president Donald Trump, which he has pledged to reverse.
Mr Musk has also targeted Twitter’s work-from home policy, having once called for the company’s headquarters to be turned into a “homeless shelter” because, he said, so few employees actually worked there.
The comment also served as a thinly veiled jab at San Francisco, which has a large homeless population. He said during Thursday’s meeting that he strongly favours working in person, according to Ms Weinstein.
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