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Elon Musk has discussed putting all of Twitter behind a paywall

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If Friday caused massive layoffs on Twitter, brought new evidence on Monday that the company will never be the same. Musk has discussed putting the entire site behind a paywall, platform game has learned. Meanwhile, the company is trying to lure back workers it laid off just hours ago, with some employees saying the economy behind its soon-to-relaunch Twitter Blue subscription could lose the company money.

All of this took place against the backdrop of a company that has still not heard anything official from Musk, either via email or a company-wide meeting. When Monday began, many employees lost track of who their managers were, having lost thousands of their colleagues days earlier.

Meanwhile, Musk’s increasingly erratic leadership, coupled with his habit of… twitter with a delicious tastegave many current and former employees I spoke to with a sinking feeling about the future of their company.

Today, let’s talk a little more about how the company screwed up its layoff process, what happened inside Twitter on Monday, and what that paywall might look like.

I. The blunder

Friday’s layoffs had been cruel to everyone involved, including those involved in planning them — many of whom lost their jobs themselves. While the process varied by team, some executives were asked to present Musk’s team with two sentences about all their direct reports: one sentence explaining what the employee was doing, and one sentence justifying their continued employment at Twitter. .

“You were like, this better be a damn good sentence,” said one person who was asked to write such a list.

Managers worried about the decisions and jockeyed with their colleagues in an effort to preserve employment for the most vulnerable among them: pregnant women, workers with cancer and visa workers among them, a former employee told me.

Some teams were cut more than others; several were wiped out completely. However, the company turned out to be going too far. As I was the first to report me on SaturdayWithin hours of the layoffs, some managers were already told to ask certain laid-off employees if they wanted their old jobs back.

It started as a rumor about Blind, the app where employees of different companies can chat anonymously with their colleagues. But within a day, it was posted on public Slack channels.

“Sorry to @- everyone over the weekend, but I just wanted to point out that we have the opportunity to ask people who were left out if they’ll be coming back. I need to get the names and motivations together by 4pm PST on Sunday,” read read. such a message from a manager to employees. “I’ll do some research, but if any of you have been in contact with people who may be coming back and who we think will help us, please nominate before 4am.”

“I think we could use some Android and iOS help,” the manager added. The company has been reaching out to both engineers and designers for the past day in an effort to get them back, platform game has been told.

Some employees are nervous that if Twitter can’t let them return voluntarily, the company will formally withdraw the notice they received Friday. Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, companies with more than 100 full-time employees must give 60 days’ notice if they lay off 33 percent or more of the workforce. On Twitter, that notice included a promise to pay people for the next 60 days and give them a month of layoffs.

Now workers fear that if they refuse to return voluntarily, Twitter will fire them for quitting their jobs, depriving them of what would otherwise have been three months’ wages.

Some employees have begun consulting attorneys about their options in the event of a recall. Others are openly revolting and tweeting publicly discussions about various aspects of the organization that have broken down after the catastrophic disaster of Musk’s firing process.

Meanwhile, the remaining managers braced themselves for a much higher workload than they were used to before. One person I spoke to was told that every technical manager should expect to manage at least 20 individual contributors, while also spending at least half of their time writing code. Others have been given much higher numbers of direct subordinates.

II. The two Twitters

As today kicked off on Twitter, there were essentially two groups at the company, one employee told me: those who worked on projects Musk has been deeply involved in, such as the revamped Twitter Blue subscription, and everyone else.

“The few teams working on his pet projects work 20-hour days,” one employee told me. “But the majority of the company just hangs out. No chain of command, no priorities, no org chart and in many cases no idea who your manager or team is.”

But the majority of the company is just snooping around.”

To find out what to do, employees consulted some unusual sources. After a number of celebrities and high-profile accounts began to imitate him, Musk announced a new policy via a tweet. that anyone impersonating someone else will be banned permanently without warning. That was news to what was left of Twitter’s policy team, I was told, and after that, some staff members began discussing how to implement Musk’s edict.

Meanwhile, the health team was told to listen to Musk advisor David Sacks’ podcast for insight into why they’d lost just half their peers, a former employee said. Sacks, a venture capitalist who has helped manage the Musk transition, co-hosts the “All-In” podcast with fellow Twitter advisor Jason Calacanis and VC Chamath Palihapitiya.

“The most recent podcast covers the current tech layoffs and provides some insight into why this is happening/necessary,” a vice president told employees. “I think it’s worth listening to to understand the macro environment in which we operate.”

Most employees were more interested in their health benefits, which had suddenly become a question mark. The company’s open enrollment period was set to begin today, according to the global calendar, but no information was available in the company’s personnel system. Employees today posted several questions about benefits within Slack, but they all went unanswered by management.

III. The blue disaster

At the end of the day, I was told, at least some teams had started holding meetings where employees were briefed on who their managers are, what their org chart looks like and what their priorities will be.

But several employees I spoke to still struggled with one overarching question: Do Musk and his team have any idea what they’re doing?

On the one hand, the company tells advertisers that it is thriving, The edgeAlex Heath reported, with 15 million daily users since the end of the second quarter.

But the rollout of Musk’s first signature project, a new version of the Twitter Blue subscription that allows anyone to get a verification badge, was a disaster.

The company rolled out a new version of the app on Saturday with release notes stating that the new Blue was now available. (The copy, written by Calacanis, was widely derided for sounding like a phishing email.) The problem is, Blue was not available, and so those who subscribed found that they had only been given access to the current version. from Blue.

After a debate about the potential effects of releasing thousands of new verified accounts on the platforms in the midst of the US midterm elections, the company postponed the launch.

Twitter Employees Tried To Sell Musk And Sacks With The Idea Of Asking Business Accounts To Pay For Additional Features

But the new Blue is likely to face bigger problems. The existing version only had a little over 100,000 active subscribers, platform game has learned. The new version will be 37.5 percent more expensive and its value seems obscure to most regular users of the platform. It’s unclear how the company will convince enough people to subscribe to justify the effort.

Twitter employees tried to sell Musk and Sacks with the idea of ​​asking corporate accounts to pay for additional features, as many of them use Twitter to reach a large audience. But they were turned down in favor of offering large-scale verification first, I’m told.

Other contributors have warned about a secondary feature of the new Blue that Musk added at the last minute: halving the ad load in the Twitter app. Estimates showed Twitter will lose about $6 in ad revenue per user in the United States by making that change, sources said. Considering Apple’s and Google’s share of the $8 monthly subscription, Twitter would likely losses money on Blue if the ad light plan is executed.

“The business fundamentals just aren’t there,” said a former employee who worked on the plans.

Musk has been deeply involved in Blue’s chaotic launch, participating in stand-up meetings and regularly exchanging emails with Esther Crawford, a director of product management at the company. “There is one decision maker and that is me,” Musk told the employees, according to notes shared with employees in Slack.

Twitter would probably losses money on Blue if the ad light plan is executed.

“Every detail of Twitter Blue must be clear down to the last detail,” the post added.

But all that could be a prelude to the biggest change of all: charging most or all users a subscription fee to use Twitter.

Both Musk and Sacks have discussed the idea in recent meetings, according to a person familiar with the matter. With such a plan, anyone can use Twitter for a limited time each month, but need a subscription to continue browsing, the person said.

It couldn’t be taught how serious Musk and Sacks are about the paywall; Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. It doesn’t seem imminent either, as the Blue team is fully engaged in launching extended verification.

Still, given Twitter’s massive debt load, Blue’s backward economy, and the recent lull in spending by major advertisers, it’s clear that Musk and his brain confidence will have to do something to significantly boost revenue. And whatever they choose, it seems increasingly clear that Twitter will never be the same again.


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