- Elon Musk bound Criticism on Twitter with the company’s lawyer Vijaya Gadde, who has been involved in content moderation decisions.
- Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo accused Musk in a tweet of trying to make Gadde a target for harassment.
- Musk is trying to scare employees to cut costs, said Kara Swisher, an NYT opinion podcaster, in a cheep.
Elon Musk tweeted two references this week to past content moderation decisions made by one of his top executives, prompting pushback from the company’s former CEO, as well as speculation that he’s trying to coerce higher-paid employees. to resign from the company in which he finds himself. own
On Tuesday, Politico ran a story about Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s top lawyer, discussing her status as a lightning rod for conservative critics, as well as her role in decisions like banning President Donald Trump’s account.
It became a bigger target after the company decided to limit content related to the 2020 New York Post story about President Biden’s son Hunter. pointed out the middle. (Gadde was the one who explained the company’s decision to change that policy a few days later on his Twitter account.)
Twitter had also suspended the New York Post account at the time.
“Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” Musk said. wrote in reply.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Musk’s tweet sparked a wave of racist attacks online against Gadde, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
“Some used profanity or racist slurs referring to Gadde’s Indian heritage, including words like ‘curry’ and references to India’s caste system,” the outlet wrote.
A day later, Musk tweeted a meme that seemed to reference a Joe Rogan podcast that Gadde appeared on in March 2019 to defend Twitter’s content moderation policies.
The tweets drew the ire of former CEO Dick Costolo, who tweeted his own. response:
—dick costolo (@dickc) April 27, 2022
But some observers questioned whether Musk’s real motivation behind the tweets was financial.
Resigning Twitter employees would make it easier to cut labor costs, which is necessary because of its debt-financed acquisition of Twitter, New York Times opinion writer Kara Swisher said in a statement. cheep on Wednesday, citing Costolo’s response to Musk.
—Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) April 27, 2022
Musk and Twitter closed a deal on Monday for him to acquire the company for $44 billion. Musk had to put up $21 billion and use his shares in Tesla as collateral, and if they fell a certain amount, he may have to put up more money. He will also have to pay about $1 billion in interest payments each year.
Considering all that, and that Twitter was not cash flow positive last year, “it’s one of the riskiest deals we’ll find,” said Joshua White, an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University and a former financial economist at the SEC.
Although Musk has said he’s not worried about the “economics” of buying Twitter, theoretically he still needs to make interest payments and pay off loans.
He may be considering cutting labor costs to help do that, White agreed.
“He may be expecting some of those employees to leave early,” meaning Twitter would not have to pay them severance, though it’s pretty impossible to tell if that’s their intention, White added.
General employees also seem to be shocked by the fast-moving deal. “Any sense that an exodus is building is correct,” a former Twitter employee told Insider on Tuesday.
If Musk hopes to encourage employees to leave, beyond what might be expected with a changing of the guard, that would be a big risk, White said.
“We are in the tightest job market in decades,” he said. “If you’re leaving a part of the workforce, that’s not something you can replace overnight.”
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.