Elon Musk’s Twitter profile page is viewed on an Apple iPhone.
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New Twitter owner Elon Musk has released more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mostly software engineers on the Autopilot team, on Twitter, CNBC has learned.
Musk, CEO of automaker Tesla and relaunched rocket maker SpaceX, completed a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 28 and made his mark there quickly. He immediately fired the company’s CEO, chief financial officer, policy and legal team leaders, and dissolved Twitter’s board of directors.
According to internal records reviewed by CNBC, employees from other Musk companies are now authorized to work on Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from The Boring Company (which builds underground tunnels) and Neuralink (which develops brain) . -computer interface).
Some of Musk’s friends, advisers and supporters, including the head of his family office Jared Birchall, angel investor Jason Calacanis, and PayPal founder and chief executive officer and venture capitalist David Sacks, are also involved. So two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, have worked at Palantir and Neuralink, respectively.
Among the dozens Elon Musk signed up specifically for Tesla: director of software development Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot and TeslaBot engineering Milan Kovac, senior director of software engineering Maha Virduhagiri; Pete Scheutzow, senior technical program manager, and Jake Nocon, who is part of Tesla’s monitoring unit, as senior safety manager.
Nocon was working before Uber and Nisos, a security company that had a multi-million dollar deal with Tesla to identify insider threats, and monitor the company’s critics.
On Twitter, Musk counts on his lieutenants and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep in the social network.
He’s also pressing them to learn everything they can about Twitter as soon as possible, from source code to content moderation and data privacy requirements, so he can redesign the platform, multiple Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend.
Musk has billed himself as an absolutist of free speech, but he must balance those desires with the laws and realities of business. He said in an open letter to advertisers last week as he took over the company: “Obviously Twitter cannot be a free hellscape, where anything can be said without consequences.”
It was 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 businesses, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they may be paid by another venture as a consultant. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time roles in more than one of his businesses. For example, Tesla Vice President of Materials Charlie Kuehmann, is also a vice president at SpaceX.
Sometimes, two Tesla employees told CNBC, employees at the electric automaker are pressured to help out on projects at other companies without extra pay because it’s seen as good for their jobs, or because the work is seen as helping a related team. transaction or project.
Tesla is facing intense scrutiny regarding the technology built and maintained by its Autopilot team, namely its driver assistance systems, sold as Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are all investigating whether Tesla or Musk broke laws and misled consumers about Tesla’s driver assistance programs, which are still developing and don’t make the company’s cars themselves. to drive.
Meanwhile, the federal traffic safety authority, NHTSA, continues to investigate whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems may have had defects that contributed to or caused the collision. How Tesla marketed these programs on social media, including Twitter, is part of the scope of the NHTSA investigation.
Code review and change 12 hours
Several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla’s current employees on Twitter have been involved in code reviews on the social network, although their skills come from working on Autopilot and other Tesla software and hardware not directly related to the languages and programs used. building and maintaining a social network. The employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media about internal matters, and fear reprisals.
For example, most engineers in car companies, and the tech-forward Tesla, do not have experience in the design and operation of search engines and platforms that are widely accessible to the public.
Twitter has multiple code bases with millions of lines of code per site, and 10- or 100-query per second (QPS) programs support it. At Tesla, Python is one of the programming languages of choice, and at Twitter programmers use Scala a lot.
Twitter is also more vulnerable to international regulations regarding hate speech and data privacy, for example, especially the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Twitter employees who were there before Musk took over said they were asked to show his teams all kinds of technical documents, justify their work and the work of their teams, and explain their value within the company. The threat of deportation is looked down upon if the colonists touch it, they say.
Workers say they worry about being fired without reason or warning, rather than being fired by quitting. Some are concerned that they won’t be able to reap the benefits of stock options scheduled to expire in the first week of November, according to documents seen by CNBC.
Meanwhile, Twitter employees said they have not received specific plans from Musk and his team yet, and are mostly in the dark about possible head cuts within their teams, budgets and long-term plans.
Musk has set an almost impossible deadline for others to do the list, however.
One immediate project is to redesign the company’s registration software, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (sometimes known as “green checks” as they are described on the service). Staff say Musk wants that work done by the first week of November. The Verge previously reported that Musk wants to pay $ 20 per user per month, and only provide verification points to the accounts of users paid by paid subscribers, and would remove verification from accounts that do not pay Twitter Blue.
Executives at Twitter ordered some employees to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, to beat Musk’s deadline, according to internal communications. The sprint orders came without discussion about paying overtime or comp time, or about job security. The completion of the work in early November deadline is seen as a make or break for their careers on Twitter.
In a climate of fear and distrust, many Twitter employees have stopped communicating internally about workplace issues. In addition, some Slack Twitter channels have gone silent, multiple employees told CNBC.
During this time, Musk and his inner circle have been inserting stored messages into programs, looking for people to fire them and budget or cut projects.
On Sunday night, in a demonstration of his unrestricted access to insider information in the company, CEO Elon Musk (who calls himself “Head of Twit” but is officially the CEO and sole director) sent a screenshot to his 112 million Twitter followers.
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 was accusing Twitter of false metrics, especially for playing down the number of spam, fake accounts and malicious bots present on the platform.
In an internal message made public by Musk, Roth wrote insultingly to an entrepreneur named Amir, and reiterated that, if Amir continues to “BS” him or others about goals and key results, Twitter will be “literally doing something. Elon accuses us of doing it.”
Musk the tweet alleged that, “Wachtell & Twitter board deliberately hid this evidence in court.” He also appeared to threaten further, writing: “Stay tuned, more to come…”
Representatives for Twitter, Tesla and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz did not respond to requests for comment.