Cascading resignations, warnings from authorities and leaks from advertisers: Elon Musk’s Twitter took on water from all sides on Thursday, despite his efforts to reassure remaining employees that the future is “exciting.”
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“The future is so exciting, I can’t wait to make it happen with you,” the new boss said Thursday at the start of an internal meeting for employees who weren’t laid off during the mass layoffs a week ago.
But the threat of bankruptcy arose when he later admitted he didn’t know how badly the business would “fall short of revenue” next year.
“It is possible that we are in a cash deficit of several billion,” he advanced, according to messages between employees consulted by AFP. “If there’s a long, deep recession, we’re going to have to be able to survive,” he continued.
Employees also questioned him about the risks associated with rapidly rolling out new and untested features, the preferred method of the Tesla and SpaceX boss.
Because the US Competition Agency (FTC) issued a rare warning against the platform on Thursday: “We are following recent developments on Twitter with great concern. No CEO or company is above the law,” an FTC spokesperson said.
He recalled that the platform must confirm the rules of an agreement with the agency on data security and confidentiality.
The agreement in question, revised this year, “gives us new tools to ensure that it is respected, and we are ready to use them,” added the spokesman, referring to the large fines that the FTC could impose.
However, many employees aware of these regulations are no longer on Twitter.
The head of Tesla and SpaceX fired half of the 7,500 employees of the Californian company a week ago, ten days after buying it and becoming its only master on board.
Hundreds of people had already left this summer, and executive resignations have continued in recent days.
On Thursday, Damien Kieran, data privacy manager, and Lea Kissner, security manager, announced their departures.
Other directors have also decided to step aside according to US media, including Yoel Roth, the site’s security manager, and Robin Wheeler, an executive in charge of customer solutions.
Both had so far publicly defended Twitter and its controversial new owner.
“Amen,” opined Robin Wheeler several times on Wednesday, when Elon Musk detailed his vision for the “digital public square,” during an online conference for advertisers.
Yoel Roth intervened on several occasions to explain changes or ensure that the fight against disinformation remained an “absolute priority”.
But the power of the libertarian entrepreneur in the influential social network worries many authorities, advertisers, users and minority defense associations.
He tried to reassure himself by recalling that content moderation, a safeguard against abuse on the platform, had not changed for the time being.
But his hasty decisions and provocations on Twitter have sparked daily controversy for two weeks.
Several advertisers have suspended spending on the Twitter network, whose business model depends 90% on advertising.
Insider Intelligence has lowered its forecast for Twitter ad revenue by 39% in 2023 and 2024.
Elon Musk wants to diversify sources of income, from subscriptions for users to content creation tools for influencers.
But Wednesday’s cacophonous launch of Twitter Blue, the new $8-a-month formula for authenticating one’s account, resulted in conflicting official statements and the eruption of fake profiles.
“Keep in mind that Twitter is going to do a lot of dumb stuff in the coming months. We will keep what works and change what doesn’t,” the billionaire tweeted.
At the start of the week, it sold nearly $4 billion worth of shares in its flagship Tesla. “I did it to save Twitter,” he told employees Thursday.
Elon Musk wanted to buy the Californian company in the spring, then he didn’t want it anymore in the summer, and was forced to acquire it in the fall to avoid a lawsuit.
On Thursday, he said Twitter usage “continues to grow,” adding: “One thing’s for sure: It’s not boring.”
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