At the Twitter meeting, Elon Musk asked questions of 8,000 employees

SAN FRANCISCO – Over the weeks, Elon Musk has publicly deleted Twitter, despite the fact that he is buying the company with a $ 44 billion deal. On Thursday he finally acted like a patron.

During a one-hour question-and-answer session this morning with some 8,000 Twitter employees – the first time Mr. Musk spoke to them since agreeing to buy a social media company in April – the world’s richest man heard about his plans. For service. In a scattered and sometimes tumultuous address, he addressed a wide range of topics such as growth, potential dismissal, anonymity, Chinese apps, the existence of alien life forms, and even the cosmic nature of Twitter.

“I want Twitter to contribute to a better, longer-lasting civilization where we can better understand the nature of reality,” Mr Musk said at a live-to-Twitter meeting he heard from The New York Times.

The 50-year-old added that he hopes the service will help humanity to “better understand the nature of the universe as much as possible.”

A meeting in which Mr. Musk appeared from a cell phone, apparently in a hotel room, suggested he was going to close a blockbuster purchase. His intentions have been called into question in recent weeks when the billionaire, who also runs electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, repeatedly raised questions about fake Twitter accounts under the pretext of potentially concluding a deal or renegotiating the deal.

Mr Musk, a well-known silver medalist since April, tweeted that the purchase had been “suspended” and accused Twitter of “active resistance and violating its rights”. At another point he criticized some of the company’s executives. He made his inflammatory comments as global markets plummeted and shares of Tesla, his main source of wealth, plummeted.

The tricks of Mr. Musk, who pays $ 54.20 a share to buy Twitter, have made investors, company employees and others think about what he could do. Twitter shares are now selling for about $ 37. Still, the company insisted that the deal stay on the road and that it share information with Mr. Musk, who plans to pay a $ 1 billion demolition fee if he leaves.

Mr Musk did not say directly on Thursday whether he would close the deal on Twitter, but he told staff he had big ambitions.

In a conversation led by Twitter’s chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland, Mr. Musk said he hopes to expand the service to more than a billion users worldwide. This will be almost four times the number of current users. He added that it was practical at Tesla and expected it to be so on Twitter.

Even with such a performance, some have warned that Mr. Musk might still change his mind about completing the Twitter deal.

“I suppose it works in two ways,” said Ann Lipton, a professor of corporate governance at Tulan Law School. “Maybe he wants to lower the price or even cancel the deal. If the deal goes through, he wants more investors.

He added: “Public speaking with Twitter employees, trying to alleviate their concerns, may be a guarantee for potential investors. But I do not know if this is his plan B or plan A.

Twitter declined to comment on the meeting, and Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Musk had scheduled a conversation with Twitter staff a week ago, but the meeting did not take place. Then last week, the San Francisco-based company began collecting questions from employees about the internal Slack messaging system. The meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. San Francisco time, began a few minutes late, with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal thanking Mr. Musk.

Mr. Musk then began answering questions, including about remote work. This month, he sent a memorandum to Tesla and SpaceX employees saying he expected them to be in the office 40 hours a week. Twitter employees largely worked remotely during the corovirus pandemic.

Mr Musk told Twitter staff he was open to working remotely, given that software development is different from the daily appearance of cars. But he said the widespread lack of office participation could help reduce the size of the Espresso Corps and he hoped people would be more willing to go to the office in the future.

Mr. Musk declined to comment directly on whether he would be fired on Twitter, though his response was somewhat scary.

“Now the expenses exceed the income,” he said. “This is not a good situation.”

At another point, he engaged in a discussion about whether extraterrestrial life was possible, though it was unclear where he went. He also introduced the Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok as aspirations, given that WeChat is so involved in the daily lives of people in China and TikTok is “not boring”.

One improvement that Mr. Musk said he wanted was to add payment technology to Twitter. Ideally, users will be able to send money through the service, as well as products like Venmo or Square Cash.

Mr Muskie, a longtime active Twitter user with more than 98 million subscribers, has long said he believes the company’s potential is underutilized. He added that he hopes to rejuvenate the service in the eyes of public markets by taking ownership of the company and making significant changes to how Twitter works.

Some employees inside Twitter had mixed feelings about Mr. Musk. Some have said they are concerned about his Twitter habits and vague policies.

On Thursday, SpaceX employees released a memorandum stating that they were also concerned about their CEO’s public behavior – especially how he acted on Twitter – and that it was having a negative impact on employees.

“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and inconvenience to us,” said a letter obtained by The Times and previously published by The Verge. “As our CEO and most famous speaker, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX – every tweet Elon sends is a de facto public statement from the company.

Others said on Twitter that they were concerned about how Mr. Musk wanted to use the platform’s police approach.

On Thursday, he stressed that he wanted Twitter to be as inclusive a platform as possible, mostly gaining more users, adding that he would not allow criminal activity on the network. He said he also did not want people to use their real names on Twitter and that using pseudonyms was helpful in expressing political views on the service.

Some Twitter employees, pointing to Mr. Musk’s reputation as an innovator, said they were heartbroken after Thursday’s meeting. Mr. Musk was not hostile and seemed to have a vision for the product, even though he sometimes could not articulate it clearly, they said. Others said he did not address their questions, with one employee writing in Slack’s internal message, which was viewed by The Times: “If you drank every time he answered the question, you would be painfully sober at the end of the day. this.”

Mr. Musk was impartial when asked if he intended to take on the role of Twitter executive when he headed the company. He said he was not a traditional CEO and pointed to his title at Tesla, which is Technoking. But he also mentioned that he had many ideas about product updates and how to develop the service and that he was informing them to others within the company.

“I expect them to listen to me in this regard,” Musk said.

Ryan Mackie And In Lauren Hirsch Contributed to the report.

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