Twitter employees are voicing their concerns after Elon Musk vowed to make ‘significant improvements’ to the social media platform as a company board member and majority shareholder, admitting his investment in the company was not passive.
After news broke of the Tesla CEO’s $3billion investment in the platform, employees took to Twitter issuing messages of both serious uneasiness and mockery.
‘Good morning to our new overlord!’ Lara Cohen, the company’s Global Head of Partners, tweeted.
Company researcher Matt DeMichiel shared a meme featuring rapper Drake that seemingly implied Musk would move the company’s focus from growth, product innovation and sustainability to ways to further financial success.
‘Elon Musk just (temporarily at least) made me a lot of money. And I still dislike him,’ added Haraldur Thorleifsson, lead of Twitter’s 0→1 team, referencing how Musk’s stake and board membership prompted a surge in the company’s stock value.
The billionaire, who initially filed a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure document intended for passive shareholders, filed a second form Tuesday indicating that he invested in the platform with the goal to evoke change.
The new filing, which was obtained by DailyMail.com, revealed Musk began purchasing Twitter stock on January 31 and continued to buy shares during every trading session through April 1.
Twitter employees are voicing their concerns after Elon Musk vowed to make ‘significant improvements’ to the social media platform as a company board member and majority shareholder, admitting his investment in the company was not passive
Twitter announced Tuesday morning that Musk would hold a seat on the company’s board of directors until the platform’s 2024 annual shareholders meeting.
In exchange, Musk – either alone or as a member of a group – is not allowed to push his stake in the company past 14.9 percent during the duration of his board membership and for 90 days after, according to Tuesday’s SEC filing.
However, Twitter employees appeared worried about company operations and values now that Musk seemingly holds significant weight in the company.
Michael Sayman, 0→1 Product Lead at Twitter, took to the platform to share a meme allegedly depicting the next company board meeting.
The post featured a group attending a meeting with Wario, the antagonist in Nintendo’s Mario series, sitting at the head table. The meme was captioned: ‘Twitter’s next board meeting’.
DeMichiel, who shared the Drake meme, also responded to a commenter asking if employees were required to include Musk on all work-related communications.
He answered: ‘That and all email signatures have to link to Tesla’s website.’
Although most responses featured targeted sarcasm, EJ Samson, a member of the platform’s marketing team, issued a more neutral response, questioning Musk’s role at the company.
Retweeting a poll the SpaceX CEO had posted asking if users wanted an edit button, Samson replied, via meme: ‘What is happening?’
Lara Cohen, the company’s Global Head of Partners, compared Musk to a feudal lord
Company researcher Matt DeMichiel shared a meme featuring rapper Drake that seemingly implied Musk would move the company’s focus from growth, product innovation and sustainability to ways to further financial success
DeMichiel also responded to a commenter asking if employees were required to include Musk on all work-related communications
Haraldur Thorleifsson, lead of Twitter’s 0→1 team, referenced how Musk’s stake and board membership prompted a surge in the company’s stock value
Michael Sayman, 0→1 Product Lead at Twitter, compared Musk to Wario, the antagonist in Nintendo’s Mario series
EJ Samson, a member of the platform’s marketing team, seemingly questioned Musk’s role at the company
As employees voiced their concerns, subscription newsletter platform Substack taunted the workers, saying that although their outlet was hiring, Twitter employees should not apply.
‘If you’re a Twitter employee who’s considering resigning because you’re worried about Elon Musk pushing for less regulated speech… please do not come work here,’ Lulu Cheng Meservey, the Vice President of Communications at Substack, tweeted on Tuesday.
‘But for everybody else, we really are hiring! Join a talented, determined, passionate, motley team of all backgrounds and beliefs,’ she added. ‘We debate respectfully, execute maniacally, and live to serve writers and podcasters. Long live independent publishing.’
Her comments were met with significant criticisms from social media users who argued she was unprofessional, acting with political discrimination, unfair and hostile.
One user even wrote: ‘Congratulations on helping me to the decision that I’ll never write at Substack or subscribe to any writers there.’
Meservey, alleging ‘context collapse has now happened’ after her remarks were slammed, likely made her comments in response to Tuesday’s backlash from progressive users who feared Musk, a known critic of Twitter’s apparent censorship policies, would ruin the platform.
‘No good will come of this. Hoping entrepreneurs are dreaming up new alternatives to Twitter and Facebook,’ Amy Siskind, activist, author and president of The New Agenda, told Fox News after Tuesday’s board member announcement.
Political analyst Tim O’Brien argued free speech activists should be worried about the entrepreneur’s newfound power at the company.
‘Musk fashions himself a free speech purist, but bullies critics,’ he said.
As employees voiced their concerns, subscription newsletter platform Substack taunted the workers, saying that although their outlet was hiring, Twitter employees should not apply
Lulu Cheng Meservey, the Vice President of Communications at Substack, touted her platform’s dedication to ‘independent publishing’ after telling Twitter users they weren’t welcome to work at the platform
After being met with criticisms, Meservey claimed the ‘context’ behind her remarks had been lost. She likely made her comments in response to Tuesday’s backlash from progressive users who feared Musk, a known critic of Twitter’s apparent censorship policies, would ruin the platform
One user accused Meservey of political discrimination
Another slammed Meservey for posting the remark and then claiming it was misunderstood
Most users dismissed Meservey’s claim that ‘context collapse has now happened’
Another user noted that in wake of Meservey’s comments they would never subscribe to Substack or read work from its writers
Meservey was hit with significant criticism for her remarks about Twitter employees joining the Substack staff
Podcast host Sawyer Hackett, who also served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Obama Administration, slammed Musk as a hypocritical fraudster who allegedly evaded taxes.
‘The newest member of Twitter’s board of directors once went on Twitter and called a U.S. Senator “Senator Karen” because she suggested he – the richest man in the world – should pay income taxes,’ Hackett said. ‘He paid $0 in income taxes last year.’
Others, including MSNBC host Joy Reid, raised concern that Musk would demand the company to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account, which was permanently suspended last year following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
‘So if this platform brings Trump, his white nationalist friends, Q-anon and the anti-vaxxers back, and it becomes no different from failing side-apps like Gettr (still one of the most unintentionally hilarious brand names ever) or Gab, how many of y’all will remain on here?’ Reid argued.
She added: ‘If they let the hive back in, they’ll have about the same sized audience as those failed “new Twitters,” and the path will be wide open for a smart developer out there. Just sayin… Twitter can be unpleasant enough without the disinformation and nazi bros.’
The billionaire, who initially filed a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure document intended for passive shareholders, filed a second form Tuesday indicating that he invested in Twitter (San Francisco headquarters pictured) with the goal to evoke change
Twitter entered into its board membership agreement with Musk on Monday, an SEC report revealed.
After submitting the regulatory filing on Tuesday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced Musk’s board membership on the social media, alleging the billionaire brings ‘great value’ to the company.
‘I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,’ Agrawal wrote.
‘He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!’
Musk responded to the CEO, saying: ‘Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!’
Musk’s role as both a board member and Twitter’s largest shareholder certainly gives him an outsized voice in the company’s future. He’s been publicly praised this week by the CEO and other board members, a sign that Twitter leadership is likely to take his ideas seriously.
But he’s still just one member of a 12-person board that Twitter says has ‘an important advisory and feedback role’ but no responsibility over day-to-day operations and decisions. That means Musk won’t have the authority to add an ‘edit button’ or to restore Donald Trump’s suspended account.
‘Our policy decisions are not determined by the board or shareholders, and we have no plans to reverse any policy decisions,’ said Twitter spokesperson Adrian Zamora.
Twitter stocks have surged since mid-March when Musk purchased his stake
Regardless, millions of investors flocked to Twitter’s stock after Musk, who has more than 80 million Twitter followers, disclosed a 9.2 percent stake in the company, making it the most bought U.S. stock by retail investors on Monday. The $152 million inflow to the stock on Monday was the largest among all stocks and ETFs on U.S. exchanges for the day.
Musk has developed a loyal following of investors who stuck with his company Tesla Inc for most of the past decade while it was still struggling to streamline production of electric cars and make them affordable.
Tesla is now among the world’s most valuable companies with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion.
Musk, who is also behind other ventures such as rocket maker SpaceX, is the world’s richest person with a net worth pegged by Forbes at $290billion.
Musk’s popularity with retail investors was one of the reasons why Twitter agreed this week to offer him a seat on its board of directors, people familiar with the matter said.
Musk and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.
Twitter shares have fallen behind peers amid the company’s push to make its advertising more lucrative and generate more revenue from subscription products. The stock sank 38 percent in the 12 months to April 1, before Musk unveiled his stake, versus a 13 percent rise in the S&P 500 Index.
Retail investors account for 9.9 percent of Twitter’s investor base, according to Vanda Research. While that is higher than Tesla, where retail investors account for 1.5 percent, it is significantly lower than AMC, the most popular meme stock, where retail investors account for 40.9 percent of the investor base.
‘Given Musk’s following on social and other media, we expect the news to drive significant retail investor interest in, and activity for, the stock,’ Bank of America Securities analyst Justin Post said in a research note this week. He cautioned that the hype could also attract investors who like to short stocks.