Musk’s “saw” approach to Twitter won’t work: Chris Kelly

Elon Musk is “out of business” at Twitter, says a former Facebook executive and a “bullying management culture” won’t work there.

Chris Kelly is an early investor in SpaceX, “mostly an Elon fan,” but said strategies that have worked at Musk’s other companies won’t translate on Twitter. Kelly made the comments at Big Ideas Live, a Sky News event held on Saturday in London.

“He’s capable of some amazing things, but he’s got into territory that’s out of his depth and he thinks the culture of managing bullying can change it — and that just wouldn’t work for a company like Twitter,” Kelly said. “I’ve definitely seen some leadership management moves from Elon at Tesla and SpaceX before, but I’m surprised this is the approach. He should have taken a more nuanced approach when he was in charge.”

Dex Hunter-Torricke, the former SpaceX communications chief who now advises Facebook on moderation as part of the Meta Oversight Board, shared Kelly’s sentiments.

“Making decisions very quickly on content policy is probably not the way to go,” Hunter Turek told Sky News.

Musk wasted no time making major changes to Twitter after his $44 billion acquisition of the social network. Soon the then top executives fired about half of the company. Some of those who were laid off in embarrassment asked to return, after realizing they were still needed.

On Wednesday, Musk sent an email to all Twitter employees telling them to be “very hardcore” and to work “long hours at high intensity.” He then said that the staff could either agree to it or leave. Those on board have been told to indicate their interest via a link included in the email by Thursday evening. By Friday, it looked like between 1,000 and 2,000 employees hadn’t clicked “yes.”

Meanwhile, changes Musk has made to the platform have unsettled companies, lawmakers, and celebrities, among others.

Many companies have halted advertising on Twitter, fearing that hateful content will rise under Musk, who describes himself as the “absolute freedom of speech.”

Some companies, including pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and defense contractor Lockheed Martin, have also fallen victim to Musk’s Twitter verification failure, as scammers managed to impersonate the companies. That was thanks to a new $8 monthly subscription service that allows any account to appear “verified.” Twitter paused the service days after it launched, and a restart isn’t expected until later this month.

“Elon is willing to try a lot of things — some will fail, some will succeed,” said Esther Crawford, a Twitter employee who worked on the verification fix. “The goal is to find the right mix of successful changes to ensure the long-term health and growth of the business.”

But Kelly believes Musk’s approach will hurt the company in the long run, saying at the event today, “The massive cuts and saws Elon Musk has taken to the company do not bode well for its future.”

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