The Tanking of Twitter

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

First, before the rest of this post, a warning: if you have a Twitter account, active or inactive, go turn on 2FA.
Do it on a desktop or laptop, not your phone.
Be sure to obtain a single-use backup code for secure login in case you’re unable to use 2FA.*

There are too many reports right now of quirky things going on at Twitter. Just play it safe and protect your account.

~ ~ ~

It’s amazing how little drag billions of dollars provides in the face of gravity — and by gravity I mean the force hubris and ignorance may exert when they meet reality.

This observation is spot on after Thursday’s conference call with Twitter’s current owner, Elon Musk:

I don’t even dare embed the original tweet because it may disappear if the worst should come to pass and swaths of Twitter are shuttered to outside access.

How the hell did Musk, the head of SpaceX and Tesla, manage to burn up so much goodwill inside 16 days?

Let’s take a look at the timeline of events since Musk began buying stock in Twitter.




Musk begins accumulating shares of Twitter


Musk now owns 5% of Twitter


Musk polls Twitter users, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” 70% of 2 million participants said no.


Reuters: Elon Musk giving ‘serious thought’ to build a new social media platform

Musk makes contact with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as well as Twitter board members to discuss the platform


Musk filed a Schedule 13G with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing his acquisition of a 9% stake in Twitter.

The SEC acknowledged receipt of the 13G and asked Musk for clarification of several points including how Musk determined March 14 was the date which triggered a need for the 13G filing, and why he didn’t file within 10 days of March 14.


Twitter’s board offers Musk a seat on the board if he accumulates no more than 14.9% of the company’s stock. The offer includes a background check and completion of a D&O questionnaire.


CEO Parag Agrawal welcomes Musk to the board via tweet.


Including a list of the Twitter accounts with the most followers, Musk tweets, “Most of these “top” accounts tweet rarely and post very little content. Is Twitter dying?

Agrawal replied that the tweets were unhelpful. It isn’t known until much latter via released text messages that Musk and Agrawal had been talking up to this point.


AP: Musk suggests Twitter changes, including accepting Dogecoin; Musk tweeted these ideas over the weekend.


AP: Tesla CEO Elon Musk won’t join Twitter’s board after all; Agrawal tweeted this news on Monday.


Musk files Amendment 2 to his Schedule 13D/A

The amendment includes his offer — a non-binding proposal — to Twitter’s Chairman of the Board Bret Taylor to acquire Twitter at $54.20/share and take it private.


Twitter adopted a rights agreement which included a poison pill.


Musk obtained $46.5 billion in financing commitments according to exhibits to amended 13D filed with the SEC.


Twitter’s board unanimously approved an offer by Musk to buy Twitter for $44 billion.


Reuters: Musk sells Tesla shares worth $8.5 billion ahead of Twitter takeover


In 10-Q filing to SEC, Twitter estimated spam accounts as 5% or less of active users.

Musk tweeted, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”


Amendment 6 to Schedule 13D showed Musk obtained commitments amounting to more than $7 billion in funding for the acquisition of Twitter.


NPR: Elon Musk says he’ll reverse Donald Trump Twitter ban


Twitter CEO announced a hiring freeze and cost cutting along with releasing two executives. They were:

– Kayvon Beykpour, general manager

– Bruce Falck, general manager for revenue


WaPo: Elon Musk says Twitter deal is on hold, putting bid on shaky ground — Musk expressed concern that spam/accounts were in actuality more than 5% of users in spite of Twitter’s 10-Q statement.


Federal Trade Commission and Dept of Justice Order Twitter to Pay $150 Million Penalty for Violating 2011 FTC Order and Cease Profiting from Deceptively Collected Data


WaPo: Elon Musk threatens to back out of Twitter deal over withholding data – he claimed Twitter was “actively resisting” requests for information though his April agreement to purchase Twitter waived the right to look more deeply at the company’s data.


WaPo: Elon Musk files to back out of Twitter deal – Musk’s letter to Twitter filed with the SEC said he was “terminating their merger agreement” but Twitter replied the same day saying it would sue Musk.


NYT: Twitter Sues Musk After He Tries Backing Out of $44 Billion Deal – the company filed suit in Delaware’s Chancery Court.


Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick set a trial date for October 17 in Delaware’s Chancery Court.


Bloomberg: Musk Files Defense Under Seal as Twitter Trial Set for Oct. 17


A former Twitter employee was found guilty of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia.


USNews: Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s former security chief July 2020-January 2022, claimed in a whistleblower complaint filed in July with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice that Twitter was not straightforward with regulators about its information security and its handling of disinformation.


Twitter’s former security chief Zatko testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Twitter’s problematic information security.


Musk tweets Vladimir Putin’s “peace plan”; it’s alleged this tweet occurred after Musk had a conversation with Putin.


Twitter disclosed in an SEC filing that Musk agreed to complete the purchase of Twitter for $44 billion according to the terms established in April.


WaPo: Twitter-Musk trial delayed as sides argue over money and trust


Report: Musk explained to prospective investors that he will cut Twitter staffing by 75%


Musk arrives at Twitter’s corporate offices carrying a bathroom sink. “Let that sink in!” he tweeted along with a video of his entrance.


Musk takes control of Twitter, firing uppermost management including

– Parag Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer

– Ned Segal, Chief Financial Officer

– Vijaya Gadde, Global Lead of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety

– Sean Edgett, General Counsel


The Verge: Twitter is planning to start charging $20 per month for verification – Musk threatened to fire employees building this verified user system.


Musk tweeted, “The whole verification process is being revamped right now


Departure of more Twitter officials revealed, top management gutted; exits include

– Sarah Personette, Chief customer officer

– Dalana Brand, Chief People and Diversity Officer

– Nick Caldwell, General manager for core technologies

– Leslie Berland, Chief marketing officer

– Jay Sullivan, Head of product

– Jean-Philippe Maheu, vice president of global sales


Major brands pause advertising on Twitter, including Audi, General Mills, General Motors, Ad rep Interpublic Group, Mondelez International, Pfizer, Volkswagen


Twitter to deny Blue subscribers access to ad-free articles


Musk mixed it up with author Stephen King over the proposed $20/month fee for Twitter Blue verified status


CNET: Twitter Will Charge $8 a Month for Verified Accounts, Elon Musk Suggests


Half of Twitter’s workforce is pink slipped.

Included are personnel who were building the new verification system.


CNN: Elon Musk said Twitter has seen a ‘massive drop in revenue’ as more brands pause ads


Entire departments were gutted:

– Human Rights

– Communications

– Accessibility Experience Team

– META (Machine learning ethics, transparency and accountability)

– Curation

04-NOV-2022 through 08-NOV-2022

CNN: Elon Musk sold nearly $4 billion worth of Tesla stock since Twitter deal closed


Engadget: Twitter starts testing paid account verification on iOS


Bloomberg: Twitter Now Asks Some Fired Workers to Please Come Back – some were fired “by mistake”


Actor Kathy Griffin suspended by Twitter after mocking Musk by changing her account name and avatar to copy Musk’s.


CBS: Musk says Twitter account holders who impersonate others will be banned


Guardian: Twitter to offer ‘official’ label for select verified accounts – “Accounts that will receive [the label] include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures,” Twitter’s Early Stage Products manager Esther Crawford tweeted.


Reuters: Twitter engineer says he was fired for helping coworkers who faced layoffs — several employees are now filing a lawsuit against Twitter for firing them while engaged in protected work per the National Labor Relations Board.


1:45 p.m. ET – Twitter users note there are two Twitter Blue services at different prices.

2:00 p.m. ET – Engadget: Twitter’s $8 a month Blue subscription with verification is rolling out; available on iOS only relying on Apple’s identity verification.

2:52 p.m. ET – Twitter users receive a notice there will be a change in Twitter Blue service; the service is being revamped with current subscriptions to be canceled at the end of the month.


5:26 p.m. ET – Twitter Support tweets, “We’re not currently putting an “Official” label on accounts but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception.


Several high-level technical executives resigned, including

– Yoel Roth, Lead, Integrity and Safety

– Lea Kissner, CISO

– Damien Kieran, Chief Privacy Officer


Internal communications about separations and outstanding compensation are a mess.


With little advance notice, Musk hosts an Ask Me Anything-type of meeting with employees. Topics included:

– turning Twitter into a banking services business-news

– insufficient cash flow with bankruptcy a possibility

– elimination of remote/work from home with mandatory return to the office

– offering short-form video in competition with TikTok (like Twitter’s now-defunct Vine service)


Multiple outlets note that Twitter may be in violation of the FTC’s 2011 Consent Decree by not developing a security program documented in writing within days of rolling out new services.

A former outside counsel to Twitter warned of FTC fines for lack of compliance, but Twitter is apparently requiring its engineers to “self certify” while failing to put new services through full red team review before implementation in production environment.


A U.S. Senator, a major pharmaceutical company, a major aerospace and defense company, and Chiquita are among the noted individuals and organizations whose identities have been spoofed by accounts using the new Twitter Blue verification service.


Twitter paused its Twitter Blue verification service on Thursday night after the new service had been abused with misinformation.


NYT: Insiders report as much as 80% of engineering staff have been fired, leaving little more than a skeleton crew to manage key portions of the platform.


Twitter’s remaining Human Resource team sent laid-off workers an email acknowledging delays sending their separation agreements and release of claims documents. But HR sent it CC: not BCC: with a Reply-All barrage following.

Stories of badly handled terminations are becoming public.


Thread: “Scoop from within Twitter: small things are breaking, not enough engineers to fix them. Noticed that notification counts are not showing? The BE service powering it is down since Thursday. A bug was filed, but the team that would fix it is full on with verification work.


More personnel are being terminated overnight, without warning. Managers are learning as their reports including contract personnel suddenly disappear from resources.

The last couple of items were added late Saturday night. I’m afraid to look and see what might have transpired since I checked last.

There’s no nice way to put this: this entire situation is fucked up and it’s all on Elon Musk.

He’s done immense damage to Twitter’s brand as well as his own personal brand. He seems to think branding isn’t important though advertising customers like Eli Lilly, Lockheed Martin, and Chiquita offer evidence brand damage from sloppy management actually costs money.

The FTC is likely to punctuate this even further because of the egregious manner in which Twitter under Musk’s ownership has failed to comply with the 2011 consent decree. Musk ought to talk with Facebook’s Zuckerberg about how expensive this can be.

And there are humans who are going to pay for Musk’s cavalier behavior — families who might be expecting a child who are now dealing with COBRA, remote workers who are being forced back to the office in areas with severe housing shortages (that’d be Ireland, not just the U.S.). Musk has tweeted about this but this issue didn’t come up out of thin air, and like everything else so far has been handled badly.

There’s some question whether Twitter has adequate staffing related to compliance with EU regulations and GDPR and are they in Ireland.

Three points about Musk’s Twitter acquisition really boggle my mind after reading all this material. First,

Mr. Musk had brought his own advisers, many of whom had worked at his other businesses, such as the digital payments company PayPal and the electric carmaker Tesla. They parked themselves in the “war room,” on the second floor of a building attached to Twitter’s headquarters. The area, which Twitter used to fete big-spending advertisers and dignitaries, was stocked with company memorabilia. …

The advisers included the venture capitalists David Sacks, Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan; Mr. Musk’s personal lawyer Alex Spiro; his financial manager Jared Birchall; and Antonio Gracias, a former Tesla director. Joining in were engineers and others from Tesla; from Mr. Musk’s brain interface start-up, Neuralink; and from his tunneling company, the Boring Company.

Musk is relying on the expertise of people in disparate businesses which have nothing to do with social media — unless Musk is already thinking he’s going to Johnny Mnemonic users’ heads with their Twitter accounts using Neuralink, a product which is likely to go nowhere since it is technically a medical device and it’s not ready for testing in humans.

The Boring Company, though. Really? Name a successful, profitable installation. Don’t mind me not holding my breath waiting, though.

There have been rumors Musk is surrounded by yes men and sycophants. We may now know who they are.

The  second questionable point:

The scope of layoffs was a moving target. Twitter managers were initially told to cut 25 percent of the work force, three people said. But Tesla engineers who reviewed Twitter’s code proposed deeper cuts to the engineering teams. Executives overseeing other parts of Twitter were told to expand their layoff lists.

Tesla. Engineers.

The people who engineer electric cars, the software of which is not safe for autonomous self driving, somehow understand enough about social media software used by hundreds of millions of accounts globally, 7/24/365, to make an assessment of staffing requirements.

They somehow understand the issues consumers, governments, industries, nonprofits/NGOs have had using and relying on this social media application since it was launched 16 years ago.

Clearly not since they missed the part about the FTC’s consent decree which might shape how any code is written, tested, rolled out, operates, and maintained.

The third doozy:

Twitter executives also suggested assessing the lists for diversity and inclusion issues so the cuts would not hit people of color disproportionately and to avoid legal trouble. Mr. Musk’s team brushed aside the suggestion, two people said.

This is the same Elon Musk whose businesses have been sued more than once for discriminatory practices, pointedly choosing to ignore federal and state employment law.

It’s a pattern of behavior and it’s not acceptable, particularly if Musk’s corporations are beneficiaries of federal incentives.

~ ~ ~

We’re long overdue to regulate social media, not just because they are monopolistic and oligopolistic.

Our businesses, our personal lives have become dependent on some of these platforms. So has our government. It should not be possible to spoof the identity of a U.S. member of Congress let alone any other government employee or entity. It should not be easy to trash businesses’ reputations for the lulz.

Nor should we as individuals be waiting for the moment we learn our personal data has been breached because a billionaire was sloppy and indifferent about its security though it’s a key facet of the business he bought for the lulz.

Democrats may have a majority in both houses of Congress next year. But they already have one now and they should use it immediately learn why Elon Musk thinks his new toy is above the law and beyond regulatory oversight.

* I meant to add you should seriously consider deleting the Twitter app from your phone. I suspect there will be attempts to hack users’ accounts using the cell phone information Twitter has on record. Protecting this data was at the heart of the FTC’s consent decree.

86 replies
    • Wajim says:

      His background is inconsequential, really. Summers in Pretoria, harassing the poor, throwing rocks at children and small mammals. In the Spring he would make fireworks he would place under the lunch boxes of pre-schoolers (oh, the sheer delight of their shock as their pathetic meals erupted in flames!)

      • LeeNLP941 says:

        As for Musk’s “humanitarianism”, e.g. his “vision” of saving humanity by “preserving the light of consciousness on other worlds” or whatnot- Musk is just another crank peddling a panacea on that point. Such “visions” cost nothing, and demonstrate more than anything a lack of understanding both of science and of humanity, as well as any sort of emotional maturity. He’s a perfect illustration of CS Lewis’s description in his essay “Men Without Chests”:

        “It is an outrage that (people like Musk) should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals…. It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath (the metaphorical seat of emotional intelligence) that makes them seem so.”

    • Bombay Troubadour says:

      “Nor should we as individuals be waiting for the moment we learn our personal data has been breached because a billionaire was sloppy and indifferent about its security though it’s a key facet of the business he bought for the lulz.”
      For a moment I thought you were talking about Zuckerberg and Cambridge Analytical.

      • Rayne says:

        I’ll argue with you about sloppy and indifferent when it comes to Zuck. I really don’t think we know what the fuck was going on in his head that he thought it was okay to do human experimentation on Facebook users. I mean, we’re talking about the guy who thought it was okay to make a digital binder of women on campus and allow them to be rated for attractiveness — hardly sloppy or indifferent, more like feral and unethical.

        Musk strikes me as unethical, but also sloppy and indifferent. Humans who buy autonomous Teslas are fungibles in a live beta test system which looks like production. Sloppy about explaining this to Tesla owners and shareholders, indifferent to Tesla owners’ lives, unethical because his desire for more data is far more important to him than the dead driver who generated it.

        • Bombay Troubadour says:

          Yea, the comparison was stretched, and meant to be more toungue-in-cheek.
          But Uber capitalists can come in many flavors…….sloppy, indifferent, feral and unethical. Granted, the feral and unethical characteristics are much more common in that club of Titans.

  1. hollywood says:

    The past week has been hard on Musk, Trump and crypto. Please let it continue. Investigate. Indict. Convict.

    • TurDuken says:

      Hopefully, DOJ and or SEC are paying attention.
      [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum…at least I assume that’s what you’ve done, having 155 comments as username “Duke” until this comment. /~Rayne]

  2. Kennygauss says:

    I am but an average dumb f**k but I see how these kinds of people are just out to make themselves more important than any single thing! Is the ambition to become ?? A rockerfella debeer or Rothschild come into the equasion!

  3. mvario says:

    One you missed, Nov. 8 when the entire Africa office was closed and everyone fired, via generic letter to their personal email accounts.

  4. Ruthie2the says:

    “The people who engineer electric cars, the software of which is not safe for autonomous self driving, somehow understand enough about social media software used by hundreds of millions of accounts globally, 7/24/365, to make an assessment of staffing requirements.”

    My father in law was an engineer, as are 2 brothers in law, and my husband was pressured to study engineering before he switched a couple of years in; he often comments that engineers tend to have an inflated sense that they can understand/fix any issue, on any topic – often better than the experts in a given field.

    • JAFO_NAL says:

      This infographic from 2016 shows political leanings by profession:

      If you scroll down to Engineering and expand that category, it indicates that software engineers are the most liberal of the bunch (~75%) and civil engineers the most conservative (~60%). Too bad a Libertarian category was not included, I suspect engineers would rank higher than most other professions (but still a small percentage).

    • P J Evans says:

      My father was an engineer (BSME); he could build/fix stuff fine, and also was a garderner/small farmer (when you have more than two of any given fruit tree, it isn’t exactly a home garden). He died before Fox came along, or I think he *would* have become a MAGAt, even though he was a Dem.

    • Rayne says:

      My dad’s an engineer, my spouse and my daughter are engineers, my son nearly so (thankfully swapped some classes for biology instead).

      They simply wouldn’t do this. Their first question would be, “Who wrote the original code? Where are they? What changed?”

      I suspect toxic masculinity is as much a factor as their engineering background; it just makes the kind of engineer they are excessively entitled. But all of this makes me even more leery of Tesla’s software. If these engineers are selected for their ability to ignore limits and excel at overreach, how does this affect the job they’re supposedly qualified to do — engineering autonomous cars?

      • Legonaut says:

        Your enginerding familia’s attitudes about NFTs (Non-Fungible Techies) seem very close to those of most I’ve met/worked with over 30+ yrs. of software development.

        The vast majority of us know our limitations. I wouldn’t dream of designing an aircraft or a bridge or a heart pump — people would almost certainly die if I did. Conversely, the engineers I’ve worked with wouldn’t think to design/build a large software system because of the financial & security risks involved. (Not to mention the legal risks hovering over everything.) That’s why we were working together in the first place…

        I have nothing but pity for the Teslans being put in this situation. They’re not happy either; expect a wave of departures from Tesla in the near future.

        I think most management-types are seduced by the commonality of tools & technologies between various kinds of software development, leading them to think the practitioners are interchangeable. It’s certainly easier for them to ignore the need for domain expertise, or the value of historical familiarity with a large codebase, especially if you’re trying to fix problems and innovate new features quickly.

        Or, maybe Elmo is just a colossal asshat. It really could be just that simple.

        • Bombay Troubadour says:

          He has the Ego of Icarus. The 200 billion dollar bully, with a glass jaw.
          A great mind is a terrible thing to waste, and Karma is a bitch.

          88,000 pages of IRS tax code and we still have zillionaires. Or is it we have zillionaires Because there is 88,000 pages of tax code?

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Rayne, thank you for the timeline you put together; it places what was a muddled picture (for me) in much clearer perspective.

        Your comment here caused me to reflect on the intersection of engineering certitude with insecure and thus aggressive masculinity–what we used to call machismo–in my father. He was a very talented engineer of the know-it-all type, who later in life mellowed *slightly* but only on engineering topics. He thought no one who overdosed should be resuscitated because “we” would be better off without them, for example. He hated Trump and considered his followers “morons.” But in a pissing contest over a Corvette engine he eventually proved able to back off–it only took him 70 years to achieve this relative grace.

        Giving people like Musk as much power/money as we do poses extreme dangers. I’m glad you are staying on the case.

        • P J Evans says:

          Mine wasn’t nearly that bad. (He donated his body to the local university. And worked at the library a lot, including with the literacy program.)

  5. Spencer Dawkins says:

    My usual commenting style here is to blockquote from posts and then comment. I saw several places where I wanted to do that, but then decided I should say “thank you” instead.

    This is a very thoughtful piece, and one of VERY few I’ve seen that paid attention to the impact beyond Musk and his minions. Thank you for that.

    I’m not even going to ask why we’re not still calling him Elmo.

  6. Waban1966 says:

    Great post and timeline. Thanks. This sparked a hypothesis about motivations/unpreparedness of Musk actions on this timeline.

    Musk was to be deposed on Oct 6-7. Your timeline points out that on Oct 4 Musk announced he would pay the $54.20/share. Two days before the deposition. And that only on Oct 5 did Twitter agree to delay the deposition. Press reports were that the parties talked on Oct 5 about closing the deal.

    I offer a hypothesis that the impending deposition could also have been a major motivation. He might have delayed preparation with his lawyers to Oct 5 (having to explain even to his own people a bunch of rash and problematic managerial/dealmaking actions). If he could/would pay the full price eventually, within the confines of just the Twitter dispute there was no reason to capitulate before the actual trial, or even after live trial testimony while the judge wrote an opinion. As of Oct 4, who knew what the trial might bring in his favor? A benefit of acting when he did was to avoid any chance of tough, in-person lawyer examination of his actions.

    Even deposition preparation with his own people risked info coming out later; even if just anonymously sourced news articles about unpreparedness. This happens a lot with very senior executives and others not used to never facing public courtroom accountability. Trump and related persons are other examples of this avoidance. Note how powerful was the Jan 6 testimony (even in video depositions).

    As early as Musk announcing the acquisition in April there were questions about his Twitter actions affecting public perceptions of his stewardship of Tesla and SpaceX. Information about his decision making with Twitter had spillover effects.

    A deposition and pretrial court filings could have threatened that. Optionality regarding the Twitter may not have been the biggest concern. If so, it was a big price to avoid a deposition

    Just a hypothesis so not suited for your pure factual timeline.

    • bmaz says:

      Oh no, there was every reason in the world to go forth with the purchase, and not just “avoiding the deposition”. There is absolutely zero chance Musk was going to win in Delaware’s Chancery Court. And plowing on in the face of that was going to cost him huge attorney fees and costs, and he still loses. Then factor in how his financial book shenanigans and finances at Tesla and Space X would also have been under an electron microscope, which would be devastating to him. Musk had his back against the proverbial wall and finally realized it. But it was not “just the deposition”.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh, I agree with this — but it wasn’t just the deposition.

      It was the background check, too. If both the background check — due diligence, perhaps I should say — and the deposition became public knowledge, what of his other business and private interests could have been damaged? Who/what might have sustained collateral damage?

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, all of them. And it would have been fair game for purposes of damages and enforcement thereof. And don’t forget Tesla is incorporated in Delaware, which could have been a real problem for Musk.

        • Waban1966 says:

          Agree he was almost certain to lose. But there was still lots of time before that happened. So he still had optionality, just as a matter of time and looking only at Twitter.

          I hope my point is in agreement with yours: the microscope effect on Tesla and SpaceX became much more apparent to him. The depo would be the first time he confronted that, up close and personal.

          Attorneys fees, while massive, would be inconsequential. Even if it was $100 million, which is high I would guess, compared to the amount he was overpaying.

          Followup question if anyone is still on this thread. Yes, Musk was almost certain to lose. But in his bubble, did he believe that? Would anyone be able to really tell him? Avoiding the knock-on effects would have been the way to “blame the market” or others, instead of himself. Someone could say “the press will take everything you say out of context, and that creates too big a risk to Tesla …”

          • Rayne says:

            Could easily be that last point was the driver, since he’s relying on Tesla’s valuation to pay for this acquisition.

            But for him to appear skittery back in April when they offered him a board seat? That smells like something worse.

  7. Anomalous Cowherd says:

    A friend of mine, years and years ago, was married to a Rhodesian woman whose family believed that all white South Africans were pig-headed crypto-fascists.

    I’ve known enough non-fascists from South Africa that I can refute that assertion, but Elon Musk’s recent antics have caused me to wonder just how wide-spread his delusions are in the southern tip of Africa.

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    Wiseguy Alex Beam from the Globe weighs in
    “The real dilemma posed by the potential withering away of Twitter is: how will I replace the wasted time? I am a firm believer in wasting time- it’s my time and twitter specifically, and the internet in general is a machine-built for avoiding commitments, relationships, and emotional engagements”😊

  9. P J Evans says:

    IIRC, the “Boring Company” ran into legal trouble in CA when they decided to start working on a test tunnel. They didn’t have the necessary permits, and didn’t have construction plans to file to get the permits.

    • bmaz says:

      Don’t forget that the Boring Company was going to “fix” Las Vegas and Chicago too! Things that every competent contractor knows: Get your permits, and get them right before starting or you get screwed.

        • P J Evans says:

          We have miles of subways. They *seem* to be safe. So far. But they have emergency exits at every station, and points in between, and those are mostly not too far apart.

        • Raven Eye says:

          Well, maybe a tiny little earthquake would be O.K.

          I was riding Metro in DC when an earthquake occurred. We were inbound on the Orange Line and stopped for a long time at Rosslyn Station. I eventually realized we were hearing the word “earthquake” in a series of announcements. Then we worked our way through downtown at about 15 mph, making sure the track was OK (!?!?!?!?) and arrived at Union Station to a full evacuation.

          Interesting for a former north-coastal Californian.

        • fubar jack says:

          Musk embodies the ‘tech guru’ phrase “go fast and break things” At the time that this sentiment was in vogue, I found myself thinking ‘you prigs!’ Go fast and break what? Low earth orbit? Civil political discourse? Our children and teens privacy? Etc…It is gratifying that Musk has gone fast and broken his brand and reputation.

          • LeeNLP941 says:

            “Go fast and break things” (GFBT) makes sense at a stage of early development when the greatest risk is prematurely settling on a suboptimal solution. Continuing to climb the hill you’re on when in fact your goal was to climb a mountain on another continent is a bad idea, and getting off the hill (“breaking things”) is a sensible first step. But what might be a good idea for a junior programmer working on a new problem with few resources and nothing to lose is in fact a very bad strategy for more mature problems with lots of prior history and investment, and much to lose. Musk apparently lots to learn from junior programmers on that point.

            • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

              There’s a reason most people who luck out on a cutting-edge technical revolution never really repeat. The first is, it does get down to the luck of timing. Second, if you decide that the best thing is to ‘break things’ to figure out the next ‘big’ thing then you’re likely to continue to apply those same principles to the new business you just created by breaking something. It’s a fool’s errand and keeping people like that in charge of their new toy is a fool’s errand whih is why most wind up levered out of the chair at some point. If you’re good at breaking things great. Go do it. Just not here.

    • Knox Bronson says:

      There was a fascinating thread on Twitter the other day, definitely worth reading.
      The opening tweet (of 8) from Matt Seybold:
      “Elon is a creative accountant who rebranded himself as an engineer. Like any fintech grifter, he lives in perpetual fear of liquidity crises, like the one he now faces.”
      So we should perhaps look at Elmo through a Dunning-Kruger lens. I have always thought he was a fraud.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        My son worked for Yelp for many years (pre-IPO) at the main headquarters in San Francisco. He was in daily contact with Jeremy Stoppelman and met with many of the “PayPal Mafia”, as the founders are known.

        The word around the office was that some of the very earliest code that Musk wrote was pretty good, but nothing after that was of any use. The opinion of him, thru the Yelp grapevine, is that he leveraged his PayPal windfall widely, buying up promising companies, but never really creating anything of his own.

        He may be clever, but he is no business genius. He is also at a point where he has enough money to buy himself out of most of the problems his poor decisions create.

        Except this time.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          In other words, he’s a Trump-style grifter. It’s not about product (the minions do that), it’s about branding. Hence the decision to acquire Twitter because he sees it as a brand-multiplier.

  10. Nutella says:

    The badly handled firing video is (supposed to be) comedy.

    Links in the comments point out the Yahoo news article “A TikToker claimed to have been fired from Twitter with an Elon Musk meme — but many of the 14 million viewers missed the joke
    Mara Leighton
    Wed, November 9, 2022”
    Which quotes the comedian as saying it was intended to be so over the top as to be obvious. Except they miscalculated how low our bar is for Elmo’s behavior.

    • Rayne says:

      Probably not funny to any Twitter employee in the continent of Africa (link via mvario).

  11. Suburban Bumpkin says:

    On the Nov 11th point
    “Stories of badly handled terminations are becoming public (FYI: Hannah Hotzenberg of Twitter HR, needs a new non-HR job.)”

    I believe the video by Matt Shaver at the link you provided is a parody or he was a Twitter engineer with a lot of time on his hands. He has a You Tube channel along with Tik Tok.
    So far my Twitter experience hasn’t changed but I am but a Bumpkin.

  12. Klaatu Something says:

    As a former bit jockey with a Comp Sci degree in system software, I can say from experience that writing code is easy, it’s the maintenance that’s a bitch, and Elmo just made the short-term maintenance of Twitter effectively impossible. The next 6 months will be mistake after mistake, but if they make it to next summer, a semblance of stability might return.

    I am torn. I got booted from Twitter a year ago for suggesting Rush Limbaugh deserved his cancer, so its death is fine by me, but Twitter serves a very useful social function. On a vindictive note, I hope Jack “Musk Can Save us” Dorsey drinks all the happiness out of his life, he deserves it.

    Finally, great timeline, thank you.

  13. gmoke says:

    I have a feeling Eli Lilly and other companies who were spoofed because Elmo’s Twitter was handing out “verified” accounts for $8/mo per pop have a case against Elmo’s Twitter when their businesses were harmed. Malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance seem to be in play but ANAI.

  14. GWPDA says:

    I was thrown off pre-Musk Twitter because I told another commenter to go soak his head. I was then informed I could rejoin by allowing access to my mobile computing device. I declined. Sometimes, after eliminating the relevant cookies on my CPU, I sneak in to see how TBogg and the basset hounds are doing. I miss them. Not enough to give any entity access to my personal codes or devices.

  15. TurDuken says:

    Elmo is on the griftware international committee. The layoffs in tech is indicative of lots of things to come, I fear.

  16. e. a. foster says:

    Thank you for the time line!
    Musk reminds me of Trump. Just thinks he is smarter than every one else and they’re always right. Trump thought he could run not only the U.S.A. but the world. Wasn’t smart enough,.
    Musk, he thought he could run Twitter because he had run other companies and he was billed as the richest man in the world. He like Trump doesn’t have much in the way of people skills and has a large ego.

    Musk’s comments regarding free speech are funny given he announced he wanted to charge $20 a month for some check mark and then it was changed to $8 a month. That isn’t free its $8 a month and it doesn’t even work properly. My take on Musk is, he just doesn’t care about others, its all about him. He’s believing his own press. Never a good move.

    Musk most likely bought twitter because he thought it would give him control over a lot of things in this world, but he has learned, I hope, that he doesn’t. Its free speech just don’t critize him, He is a tad thin skinned.

    The mass firing of employees without thinking it through or adhering to employment law says it about all. The world got by with out twitter before and could again. Paying $44B for anything and then start “screwing it up” is never the sign of a bright person.

    Telephone companies and all sorts of other companies and services are regulated in the world. Perhaps its time to regulate Musk

  17. trnc2022 says:

    “WaPo: Elon Musk says Twitter deal is on hold, putting bid on shaky ground — Musk expressed concern that spam/accounts were in actuality less than 5% of users in spite of Twitter’s 10-Q statement.”

    Shouldn’t that say “in actuality more than 5%?”

  18. Raven Eye says:

    Musk seems to have a problem dealing with humans. He’s a smart guy and manages to get technology and engineering projects going, but when people get too far into the mix, he falls flat.

    Starlink might be an example at one end: It is technology that users plug into. Their content doesn’t impact the viability of the whole system. He can be Nurse Ratched and it doesn’t usually matter (except in situations like Ukraine, where he has to deal with things like who pays, how important Starlink is, etc.).

    But with Twitter, the inmates run the asylum. Musk can try to control that scenario, but unfortunately his Nurse Ratched has to deal with about a million McMurphys.

    The shame is that both Twitter (along with Facebook) is baked into the public information strategies of government and NGOs at all levels. This marginalizes a pretty big swath of the population who do not, or will not, subscribe.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Given Musk’s lack of impulse control and seeming vindictive streak, I worry about Starlink’s future in Ukraine.

      • Rayne says:

        I can’t help wonder why we haven’t developed a mesh network for situations like Ukraine as well as climate catastrophes. We’ve known since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that communication systems were problematic, and yet development doesn’t keep up with need.

        The only thing I can figure is that entities with a vested interest in the status quo buy politicians’ complicity in maintaining the status quo. Otherwise government should have invested in a public alternative; it’s not like the airwaves are public property or anything.

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          “The only thing I can figure is that entities with a vested interest in the status quo buy politicians’ complicity in maintaining the status quo.”

          You’re asking this without irony?

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah, actually, I did. Tell me why AT&T would be able to wield more power than Lockheed Martin, as an example, with the latter being a military contractor in communications and likely able to sell a mesh system.

    • Rayne says:

      Starlink is a perfect example of Musk’s inability to weigh the needs of humans against his personal agenda. Do we need global wireless communications? Yep. At the cost of the night sky to cultures around the world, some who may have little need or want for connectivity? Nope.

      And yet now that he’s built it, polluted the skies with it, hooked users on its accessibility in remote/difficult circumstances, he’s okay with extorting payment.

      Which is what I suspect he’ll move toward with Twitter: “Nice account you’ve had here for more than a decade. Be a shame if you lost access to it.”

      • Raven Eye says:

        If your local emergency manager is using Twitter (and/or Facebook) and not doubling down on more conventional and diverse methods of alerting and warning, this whole thing is worrisome.

  19. ajcharnc says:

    I looked into the magic 8-ball again and this time the answer was “Outlook not so good”,

    I marvel at how fast Elmo has trashed the place, maybe we don’t have to wait until the new year to see what happens.

    By the way I’m familiar with engineers: my Dad was a mechanical engineer (Elgin Watch Company and then 30 years at Cushman Motor Company), my 3 brothers chemical engineers, and 3 nieces in chemical engineering. I was just a computer system engineer which meant I made sure the hardware and software was updated and crappy app programmers didn’t burn the system down. I also monitored security and security was always an afterthought to both app programmers and to overall management.

  20. BobBobCon says:

    What I would really like to see is a reckoning at Morgan Stanley and the other major financial companies who handled the $13 billion debt piece that has blown up on them.

    They’re now stuck holding it on their books for an unknowable period, instead of spinning it off, and I’ve seen estimates of losses of $500 million, instead of the big payday they were expecting. And they were locked in early, so that even when Musk realized he’d blown it and tried to escape the deal, and the whole financial world realized it was a looming sinkhole, they were locked in with no escape.

    I know midlevel analysts would have been screaming internally about the risks, but they had to have been overruled by top level execs who just had stars in their eyes.

    We’re fortunate that there are stronger controls in place than in 2008 to force execs to maintain capital reserves. This amount of stupidity won’t crash Morgan Stanley et al. But it ought to embarass the hell out of the people who pushed it, and I hope reporters are working to dig out the responsible parties. Maybe someone on a level of John Carreyrou seizes the opportunity.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      The Wall Street Bros are no different from the Silicon Valley Bros. In fact, they inhabit a completely symbiotic world with, literally, trillions of dollars in play. In that sort of fever swamp I don’t think you’ll be seeing a move toward prudency any time soon.

  21. pdaly says:

    The wrecking ball approach Musk has taken to Twitter suggests he holds a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes hope for the company or just ashes.

    I heard that the loans Musk took out to buy Twitter became Twitter’s debt, not Musk’s debt (I don’t understand why) when the deal went through. If true, and if debts are discharged in bankruptcy, then what would Musk lose by pursuing an accelerated rush into Twitter insolvency?

    • BobBobCon says:

      Tanking Twitter has huge implications to Tesla too.

      The auto industry lives and dies on borrowing the capital needed to launch new product lines. They need it for plant retooling and expansion, materials contracts, and more.

      And now lenders are looking at the way Morgan Stanley and other finance companies got majorly hosed on the $13 billion debt deal with Musk. Cheap and easy credit for Tesla just dried up.

      This is happening just as Toyota, VW, Ford and other major players are poised to move into the EV market. Tesla’s market cap was based on the idea that Musk would somehow beat all of these much bigger players. If that illusion is punctured, his net worth collapses, and the odds of him dominating are far, far worse if he can’t raise the capital he needs for the EV market share he is supposed to deliver.

      In terms of Twitter alone, he can always bankrupt it, sell the pieces, and walk away. But he’s putting a lot more at risk by doing that.

        • BobBobCon says:

          All of the reporters who just blindly parroted the PR of the richest man and the trillion dollar company without serious qualification should be mocked relentlessly.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Tesla might be the part that lives in reduced form (or under another owner), because they are the ones who make the batteries. IIRC, most of everything else for Musk is virtual, just like FTX.

        OT, FTX’s downfall will prove very interesting for Berkeley, since the Bears are trying to finance their Memorial Stadium retrofits with FTX naming rights money. Oops.

  22. WilliamOckham says:

    Apparently, TWITTER’s two factor authentication is messed up. If you have it turned on, don’t log out and expect to be able to log back in.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, I need to do a follow-up piece because that walking advert for Rogaine is doing all the fuckups at once.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        They seemed to realize they need to get 2FA back up and it might be working now. However, random stuff is going to continue to fail until the implosion. At this point, I don’t see anything stopping an implosion. Except maybe a regulator (FTC?) stepping in and shutting them down. I just don’t see regulators being able to move fast enough to prevent the muskpocalypse at Twitter.

        • Rayne says:

          I think ALL of this stuff they’re doing right now is a likely violation of the FTC’s consent decree. They’re changing services without written documentation and red team testing ahead of implementation into production environment.

          If they’re shutting off 2FA, what else has been shut off?

          Ugh. I can’t write a piece about this fast enough because I’m trying to save stuff on Wayback before I get started.

          • Rayne says:

            I swear to gods Musk is deleting stuff he’s said, and that others’ tweets are similarly disappearing if they’re criticizing what’s happened.

      • P J Evans says:

        That idiot couldn’t be bothered to learn anything about the workings of the company he insisted on buying. And the first thing he did was fire the people who knew all that.

        Someone on that hellsite was trying to convince people it was okay because Elmo “used to be a games programmer”, which doesn’t inspire confidence, given how many games have to roll out multiple bug fixes after release. Or never work correctly, or well. Also, I’ve seen no evidence that he wrote more than one program after getting out of college. (I was in CS. I wouldn’t dare to write code for a site without a lot of experience and knowledge that I don’t have.)

        • Rayne says:

          I’ve been laughing at some of the pushback he’s gotten. He tweeted some complaint and someone pointed to a specific line in code related to his whining — and the person wasn’t an employee, could see it in the source code in his browser. Probably annoyed the hell out of King of Hairplugs because he couldn’t fire them for making him look more stupid than he already does.

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