Elon Musk, captain of a sinking ship

“The future is very 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 were not dismissed 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.

“We may be in a cash flow deficit of billions,” he said, based on messages between employees. In an internal letter the day before, he had written to them that the path was going to be “laborious”, and that they now had to “be in person in the office at least 40 hours a week”.

Employees also questioned him about the risks associated with the rapid deployment of new, untested features, the preferred method of the boss of Tesla and SpaceX.

Because the US Competition Agency (FTC) issued a rare warning against the platform on Thursday: “We are following recent developments at Twitter with great concern. No CEO or company is above the law,” an FTC spokesperson said. He recalled that the platform risked substantial fines if it did not comply with the rules of an agreement reached with the agency on data security and confidentiality.

“Not boring”

However, many employees aware of these regulations are no longer at Twitter. The boss of Tesla and SpaceX laid off half of the 7,500 employees of the Californian company a week ago, ten days after buying it and becoming its sole 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, including Yoel Roth, “former head of trust and safety” at Twitter, as his profile has shown since Thursday evening. He had intervened several times in recent days to clarify changes or ensure that the fight against disinformation remained a “top priority”.

Robin Wheeler, an executive in charge of customer solutions, whose departure had been announced by American media, however tweeted Thursday evening: “I am still here”.

Memes (humorous images) referring to chaos and panic multiplied on the platform. Elon Musk, he repeats at will that the moderation of content, a safeguard against abuse on the platform, is intact. He claimed on Thursday that Twitter usage “continues to grow”, adding: “One thing is for sure: it’s not boring.”

“Save Twitter”

But his hasty decisions and provocations on Twitter have been a source of daily controversy for two weeks, worrying many authorities, advertisers, users and minority groups.

Several advertisers have suspended their spending on the very influential social network, whose economic model depends 90% on advertising. Insider Intelligence has lowered its forecast for Twitter’s advertising 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 contradictory official statements and the eruption of fake profiles.

“Please note that Twitter is going to do a lot of silly things in the coming months. We will keep what works and change what doesn’t,” the multi-billionaire tweeted. At the beginning of the week, he sold nearly $4 billion worth of shares in his 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 no longer wanted it in the summer, and was forced to acquire it in the fall to avoid a lawsuit, by putting it heavily in debt.

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