Twitter Employees Search for Answers as Musk Takeover Becomes Reality

In January 2020, thousands of Twitter employees gathered in Houston for a corporate summit called #OneTeam. During the event, then-Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey announced that he had invited a surprise guest. Then, with a wave and a smile, Elon Musk appeared on the big screen above the stage. The crowd clapped and shook hands. “We love you,” shouted one employee.

Inside Twitter today, surprise announcements about Mr. Musk lands differently. Employees said they have largely stopped celebrating the world’s richest man as he announced his intention to buy Twitter this month, repeal its content moderation policies and privatize the publicly traded company. On Monday, Twitter announced that it had arrested Mr. Musk’s offer to buy the company for about $ 44 billion.

As the takeover battle has been going on for the past two weeks, Twitter employees have said they are frustrated that they have heard little from management about what it means to them, even though Twitter has closed on a deal with Mr. Musk on Monday morning. They asked their chief executive Parag Agarwal. They asked Shri. Musk himself in questions sent on Twitter. Some went to Charles Schwab, the financial firm that manages their stock options, to clarify how the company’s sales would affect them.

But they did not get many answers before Shri. Musk’s bid was successful, with 11 Twitter employees saying they did not want to be named because they were not authorized to speak in public, although it was clear that they would soon contact Mr. Musk.

Monday afternoon Mr. Agarwal and Twitter chairman Brett Taylor finally discussed the deal with employees. Compensation under Mr. will be largely the same. Musk, Mr. Agarwal said, but he did not give the same assurance about Twitter’s policies and culture.

“We are constantly evolving our policies,” he said. Agarwal called on former President Donald J. Trump said in response to an employee’s question about whether he would be allowed to return to the platform. “Once the deal is closed, we don’t know where the company will go.”

Silence over negotiations is a regular feature in fights for takeovers. Taylor told employees. Boards of directors hold conferences with bankers, lawyers, and expensive public relations firms, so employees are often kept in the dark. But for employees on Twitter, a company that has billed itself as the world’s town square, finding out what’s going on with their company, primarily through Twitter, the service they’ve created was particularly tedious.

After years of leadership squabbles, demands for change from activist investors and Mr. Boundary-testing tweets. Trump, more than 7,000 employees of Twitter are used to turmoil. But some of them say the takeover by the paramilitary billionaire has hit them in a way that other companies are not in crisis.

Employees said they were concerned that Mr. Musk will undo years of work to clean up the toxic corners of the platform, increase their stock returns in the process of privatizing the company and disrupt Twitter’s culture with its unpredictable management style and sudden advertisements.

But Mr. Musk fans are also on Twitter’s rank-and-file, and some employees have welcomed his bid. An internal slack message seen by The New York Times asked if employees were excited about Mr. Musk, about 10 people answered with a “yes” emoji. One Twitter does less than comment.

If Twitter is to be bought, most of the value lies in the employees who build and operate the service, said David Larker, a professor of accounting and corporate governance at Stanford University. “The wild card is, what if they thought it would be a very different company than what they were working for?” It’s an uneasy working relationship, “he said.

Mr. Musk has made some of his intentions clear in regulatory filings, tweets and public appearances: the company should repeal almost all of its moderation policies, which ban content such as violent threats, harassment and spam. It should provide more transparency about the algorithm it uses to increase tweets in users’ newsfeeds. And it should become a private company.

Twitter has been expanding its content moderation policies since 2008, when its 25th employee was specially appointed to combat abuse on its platform. Moderation and safety monitoring teams have now grown to hundreds of employees.

Many Twitter employees feel they are personally investing in the company’s efforts to promote healthy conversation – even if they do not work directly on content moderation – and have pressured officials to take further action on hate speech and misinformation, six employees said. They see Mr. Musk’s proposal to return to Twitter’s initial, lax approach as a rebuke of his work.

But other employees have argued in internal messages viewed by The Times that their colleagues have moved too far to the left of the political spectrum, with Mr. Musk’s plans are too uncomfortable to speak of. In a survey conducted by an anonymous workplace review application, Blind, on about 200 Twitter employees, 44 percent said they were neutral on Mr. Musk. Twenty-seven percent said they love Shree. Musk, when 27 percent said they hated it.

However, officials and employees on Twitter have agreed with Mr. Musk says the change in his algorithm is in its infancy and could take years to complete. That’s something Mr. Musk is not particularly known for its patience.

One of the top concerns among Twitter workers is whether they will take a financial blow from Mr. Musk’s acquisition. Many Twitter employees earn 50 percent or more of their total returns from Twitter stock. Some employees said they were approached by Mr. Musk is priced at $ 54.20 per share.

In a meeting with employees on Monday, officials tried to reassure employees that they would not be underestimated by Mr. Musk’s acquisition. Mr. Agarwal told the employees that their stock options would be converted into cash when the deal is done with Mr. Musk closes, which he estimates will take between three and six months. Employees will receive their equal benefit packages for one year after the deal is finalized.

In an earlier attempt to quell financial concerns, Twitter’s General Counsel Sean Ajet told employees that any potential buyer would most likely need to keep the employee’s equity “as it is” or return the equivalent of a cash reward.

Mr. Adjet, who made his comments before the deal with Mr. Musk was announced, insisting that employees should not view his guidance as an understanding of deal-making. “The purpose is to provide some peace of mind and to explain how these things work in general, not because we believe that one result will be the opposite of another,” he wrote in a message to employees reviewed by The Times.

Twitter is on the lease spree, spending $ 630 million on stock-based returns in 2021, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. Twitter predicted in its February earnings report that it would spend between $ 900 million and $ 925 million on stock-based returns this year.

But Mr. Musk’s campaign has also begun to undermine Twitter’s efforts to recruit new employees, according to internal documents outlining the company’s recruitment efforts seen by the Times. Probable hires have expressed doubts about Mr. Musk plans to convert Twitter and increase its content moderation, the documents said.

Recruiters have also expressed concern that if Mr. Musk took Twitter privately.

Twitter’s hiring problem could escalate if current employees quit their jobs, as some have warned they would if Mr. Musk handled. Other employees are concerned about layoffs or losing work visas under Mr. Musk, and raised questions about these issues with Mr. Agarwal.

Managers responsible for the appointment have been told how many potential employees turn down job offers due to fears about Mr. Musk, according to an internal communications review by The Times.

Employees have also wondered: could it move Twitter’s headquarters to Texas, as it did with Tesla? Could it end the company’s flexibility about returning to the office, which has become a selling point for employees and recruits? Mr. Musk, after all, fought with officials in California to keep his car factory open at the start of the epidemic.

Mr. Agarwal tried to calm down his workforce. In a question-and-answer session on Monday, he urged employees to “run Twitter as we always have,” adding that “how we run the company, the decisions we make and the positive changes we make – will be up to us.” And under our control. ”

Stress on the mention of Mr. Musk is in stark contrast to the reception he received from employees two years ago. However at the 2020 event some employees said they were skeptical about Mr. Musk, many of them listened intently as he gave his advice for Twitter: the company should increase its moderation, he said, by using the platform more to weed out bots and scammers from real humans.

“By the way, do you want to run Twitter?” Mr. Dorsey asked Mr. Musk.

Assembled Twitter employees laugh. Mr. Kasturi did not respond immediately.

Ryan Mack And Mike Isaac Contribution Report.

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