Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 Tesla employees into Twitter

Elon Musk’s Twitter profile page is displayed on an Apple iPhone mobile phone.

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New Twitter Owner Elon Musk pulled out more than 50 of his trusted ones Tesla employees, mostly software engineers from the Autopilot team, in its acquisition of Twitter, CNBC has learned.

Musk, who is CEO of automaker Tesla and reusable rocket maker SpaceX, completed the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 28 and left his mark there immediately. He immediately fired the CEO, CFO, heads of the company’s policy and legal teams, and also dissolved Twitter’s board of directors.

According to internal records seen by CNBC, employees from Musk’s other companies are now authorized to work on Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from the Boring Company (which is building underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (which is develop a brain). -Computer interface).

Some of Musk’s friends, advisers and backers are also involved, including the head of his family office Jared Birchall, angel investor Jason Calacanis and PayPal founding chief operating officer and venture capitalist David Sacks. So are two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, who worked at Palantir and Neuralink, respectively.

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Among the dozens that Elon Musk enlisted specifically from Tesla are: director of software development Ashok Elluswamy, director of engineering for Autopilot and TeslaBot Milan Kovac, senior director of software engineering Maha Virduhagiri; Pete Scheutzow, senior staff technical program manager, and Jake Nocon, who is part of Tesla’s surveillance unit, as senior director of security intelligence.

Nocon previously worked Uber and Nisos, a security firm that had a multimillion-dollar contract with Tesla to identify insider threats and monitor criticism of the company.

On Twitter, Musk relies on his lieutenants and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep on the social network.

He’s also pushing them to learn everything they can about Twitter as quickly as possible, from source code to content moderation and data privacy requirements, so he can redesign the platform, several Twitter employees told CNBC during the weekend

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Musk has presented himself as a free speech absolutist, but he has to balance those desires with laws and business realities. He said in an open letter to advertisers last week when he took over the company: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell where you can say anything without consequence.”

It’s not immediately clear how Tesla employees are expected to split their schedules between the automaker and Twitter.

Typically, when Tesla employees work for Elon Musk’s other companies, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they may be paid by the other company as a consultant. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time roles at more than one of his companies. For example, Tesla’s vice president of materials, Charlie Kuehmann, is also vice president of SpaceX.

At other times, two Tesla employees told CNBC, workers at the electric carmaker are pressured to help with projects at their other companies without any extra pay because it’s considered good for their careers or because the work is considered help a related party. transaction or project.

Tesla faces serious scrutiny over the technology built and maintained by its Autopilot team, namely its driver assistance systems, which are marketed as Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are investigating whether Tesla or Musk violated laws and misled consumers about Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are still in development and do not that the company’s cars are autonomous. to drive

Meanwhile, the federal vehicle safety authority, NHTSA, continues to investigate whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems may have contained defects that contributed to or caused the collisions. How Tesla marketed these systems on social media, including Twitter, is part of the scope of at least one NHTSA investigation.

Code reviews and 12-hour shifts

Multiple Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla employees now at Twitter have been involved in the social network’s code review, though their skills working on Autopilot and other Tesla software and hardware don’t directly overlap. with the languages ​​and systems used to build and maintain the social network. These employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the press about internal matters and feared retaliation.

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For example, most engineers at automotive companies, including the technologically advanced Tesla, have no experience in designing and operating search engines and platforms that are widely accessible to the public.

Twitter has multiple codebases with millions of lines of code in each and countless 10 or even 100 query per second (QPS) systems that support it. At Tesla, Python is one of the scripting languages ​​of choice, and at Twitter developers have used Scala extensively.

Twitter also has more exposure to international regulations on hate speech and data privacy, for example, in particular the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union.

Twitter employees who were there before Musk took over said they were asked to show their teams all kinds of technical documentation, to justify their work and the work of their teams, and to explain their value within the company. The threat of dismissal looms if they fail to impress, they said.

Employees said they are worried about being fired without cause or notice, rather than being fired with severance. Some are worried they won’t be able to reap the benefits of stock options that are scheduled to vest in the first week of November, according to filings seen by CNBC.

Meanwhile, Twitter employees said they have yet to receive specific plans from Musk and his team, and are largely in the dark about potential staff cuts within their groups, budgets and long-term strategies.

However, Musk has set near-impossible deadlines for some to list items.

An immediate project is to redesign the company’s subscription software, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (sometimes known as “blue checks” because of the way they are indicated on the service). Employees say Musk wants that work done by the first week of November. The Verge previously reported that Musk wants to charge $20 per user per month and only give verification marks to the accounts of users who are paid subscribers, and would remove verification from accounts that don’t pay for Twitter Blue.

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Twitter managers have instructed some employees to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, to meet Musk’s aggressive deadlines, according to internal communications. The sprint orders came without any discussion of overtime pay or comp time, or job security. Completing tasks by the early November deadline is seen as a problem for their Twitter careers.

In an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, many Twitter employees stopped communicating with each other on internal systems about workplace issues. Additionally, some of Twitter’s Slack channels have gone almost silent, several employees told CNBC.

Meanwhile, Musk and his inner circle have been poring over messages filed in the systems, apparently looking for people to fire and budgets or projects to cut.

On Sunday night, in a show of his unlimited access to inside company information, CEO Elon Musk (who calls himself “Chief Twit” but is officially CEO and sole director) posted a screenshot to his 112 million followers on Twitter.

The screenshot showed comments made by Twitter’s head of security and integrity, Yoel Roth, in May 2022. At the time, Musk was trying to get out of his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share.

In court and in public, Musk had accused Twitter of falsifying metrics, specifically minimizing the amount of spam, fake accounts and harmful bots that exist on the platform.

In the internal message Musk made public, Roth wrote disparagingly about a person involved in the business named Amir, and also commented that if Amir continued to “BS” him or others about key goals and outcomes, Twitter would be “literally doing what Elon is to accuse us of doing it.”

musk alleged in a tweet that “Wachtell & Twitter deliberately withheld this evidence from the court.” He also appeared to threaten further legal action, writing: “Stay tuned, more to come…”.

Representatives for Twitter, Tesla and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz have not yet responded to requests for comment.


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