Elon Musk’s Twitter profile page is viewed on an Apple iPhone mobile phone.
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New Twitter owner Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, in its takeover of Twitter, CNBC has learned.
Musk, who is the CEO of car maker Tesla and reusable rocket maker SpaceX, completed the $44 billion purchase of Twitter on October 28 and made his mark there immediately. He fired the company’s CEO, chief financial officer, policy and legal team leaders immediately, and also dissolved Twitter’s board of directors.
According to internal records seen by CNBC, employees from Musk’s other companies are now authorized to work at Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from The Boring Company (which builds underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (which grows the brain. – computer interface).
Some of Musk’s friends, advisers and aides, including the head of his family office Jared Birchall, angel investor Jason Calacanis, and PayPal’s founding chief operating officer and venture capitalist David Sacks, are also involved. The same is true of two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, who have worked at Palantir and Neuralink, respectively.
Among the several that Elon Musk specifically signed up from Tesla are: director of software development Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot and TeslaBot engineering Milan Kovac, senior director of software engineering Maha Virduhagiri; Pete Scheutzow, senior manager of technical staff program, and Jake Nocon, who is part of Tesla’s investigative division, as senior manager of security intelligence.
Nocon worked before Uber and Nisos, a security firm that had a multimillion-dollar contract with Tesla to identify insider threats, and monitor critics of the company.
On Twitter, Musk relies on his followers and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep on the social network.
He’s also pushing them to learn everything they can about Twitter as quickly as possible, from source code to content moderation and data privacy requirements, so he can rebuild the platform, several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend.
Musk has touted himself as a proponent of free speech, but he has to balance those demands with the laws and realities of business. He said in an open letter to advertisers last week as he took over the company: “Twitter clearly cannot be a free-for-all, where anything can be said without consequence.”
It was not immediately clear how Tesla employees are expected to split their schedules between the automaker and Twitter.
Typically, when Tesla employees work for another of Elon Musk’s ventures, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they may be paid by the other company as a consultant. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time roles in more than one of his businesses. For example, Tesla’s Vice President of Materials Charlie Kuehmann, is at the same time a vice president at SpaceX.
Sometimes, two Tesla employees told CNBC, employees at the electric car maker are pressured to help with projects at other companies without extra pay because it seems good for their jobs, or because the work is seen as helping a related party. activity or project.
Tesla is facing intense scrutiny over the technology built and maintained by its Autopilot team, namely its driver assistance systems, which are marketed as Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are all investigating whether Tesla or Musk broke the law and misled customers about Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are still under development and do not make the company’s cars personal. driving a car.
Meanwhile, the federal auto safety authority, NHTSA, continues to investigate whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems may have had defects that contributed to or caused the collisions. The way Tesla marketed these systems on social media, including Twitter, is part of the scope of one NHTSA investigation.
Inspection of regulations and 12-hour shifts
Several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla employees at Twitter are now involved in code reviews on the social network, even though their skills from working on Autopilot and other Tesla apps and devices don’t directly interact with languages and systems. used. build and maintain a social network. These employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to reporters about internal affairs, and they fear reprisals.
For example, many engineers at car companies, even tech frontline Tesla, have no experience designing and running search engines and platforms that are widely available to the public.
Twitter has multiple code bases with millions of lines of code in each, and thousands of 10 or even 100 queries per second (QPS) systems running it. At Tesla, Python is one of the preferred scripting languages, and at Twitter developers have used Scala a lot.
Twitter also has more exposure to international regulations on hate speech and data privacy, for example, in particular the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Twitter employees who were there before Musk took the post said they have been required to show his teams all kinds of technical documents, to justify their work and the work of their teams, and to explain their value within the company. The threat of layoffs is looming if they are not attractive, they said.
The workers said they are worried about being fired without reason or warning, instead of being fired for being fired. Some are worried they won’t be able to reap the benefits of stock options that are scheduled to vest in the first week of November, according to documents seen by CNBC.
Meanwhile, Twitter employees said they have yet to receive specific plans from Musk and his team, and are largely in the dark about potential downsizing in their teams, budgets and long-term strategies.
Musk has set nearly impossible deadlines for others to list things, however.
One immediate project is to redesign the company’s subscription program, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (sometimes referred to as “blue checks” for the way they are displayed on the service). Employees say Musk wants the work done by the first week of November. The Verge previously reported that Musk wants to charge $20 per user per month, only provide verification points to accounts of users who are paid subscribers, and would remove verification from accounts that don’t pay for Twitter Blue.
Managers at Twitter have ordered some employees to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, to meet Musk’s aggressive deadlines, according to internal contacts. The rush orders have come without any discussion about overtime pay or computer time, or about job security. Completing the job before the November deadline is seen as a make-or-break situation for their careers at Twitter.
In an environment of fear and mistrust, many Twitter employees have stopped communicating with each other about internal systems regarding workplace issues. In addition, some Slack Twitter channels have gone silent, multiple employees told CNBC.
Meanwhile, Musk and his inner circle have been sending messages stored on systems, looking for people to fire and budgets or projects to slash.
On Sunday night, in a demonstration of his unlimited access to insider information in the company, CEO Elon Musk (who calls himself “Chief Twit” but is only the official CEO and director) posted a screenshot to his 112 million followers listed on Twitter.
The screenshot showed comments made by Twitter’s head of security and integrity, Yoel Roth, in May 2022. At the time, Musk was trying to get out of his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share.
In court, and in public, Musk had harshly accused Twitter of falsifying metrics, particularly for manipulating the level of spam, fake accounts and dangerous bots that exist on the platform.
In an internal message that Musk made public, Roth wrote disparagingly about a businessman named Amir, and also said, that if Amir continued to “BS” him or others about goals and important results, Twitter “would be doing what Elon accuses us of doing .”
Musk claimed in a tweet that, “Wachtell’s board and Twitter deliberately withheld this evidence from the court.” He also appeared to threaten further legal action, writing: “Listen, more to come…”
Representatives for Twitter, Tesla and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz have not yet responded to requests for comment.