Twitter is having something of a meltdown this week.
It's currently going through a mass exodus after new owner Elon Musk issued an ultimatum to employees to commit to long, grueling hours or leave. Hundreds chose the latter, leaving the social media giant with few workers and without a team of some two dozen coders critical to the platform's survival.
With such a bare-bones staff, some former employees claim the site may completely collapse, leading to many Twitter users even posting goodbye messages to the platform Thursday night while Musk touted more users.
And … we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage lol— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
"We have to remember that Musk comes from a culture of SpaceX where he built in the culture there that it is acceptable for a $100 million rocket to explode and you can move on and build another one the next day," said Andy Wu, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. "If you come from that kind of environment, messing up a check mark on Twitter is honestly not necessarily as big of a deal from their eyes."
The strain comes after a tumultuous first few weeks under Musk's ownership. He fired half of Twitter's full-time staff, and a short-lived subscription-based verification ended just days after it launched after tricksters took over.
"If you wanted to spoof Walmart, you could just change your Twitter handle to 'WalmartUSA' or 'WalmartAmerica' or really any combination, and then steal their logo or just use the same logo, buy that blue check for $8, and then trick people into thinking that you were really Walmart," said Alex Hamerstone, information security consultant at TrustedSEC.
Then, internal spats over policy and working conditions went public, culminating in Musk ordering all Twitter employees to return to work in-office and commit to "long hours at high intensity."
"He's never done a major strategic change like this; it's always been companies he's built the culture of and shifting, but he's shifting now the culture of a company he didn't start," Wu said.
He changed tack this week, saying instead remote work would be allowed if a manager could vouch for an employee's contributions.
But even as anti-Musk displays light up the building housing Twitter HQ, at least one key investor sounds bullish.
"I am more comfortable in Twitter than ever with Elon Musk taking over," said Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO and Twitter investor. "I support all the things he did, I support all of the decisions he did. Twitter is not going down — I can tell you why. Twitter has never been more profitable in his entire existence than in the last two weeks under Elon."
That's a hard claim to verify with public reporting requirements, now lifted from the privatized billion-dollar company. But Musk himself has said Twitter is losing $4 million a day, so it's not profitable.
While the app remains up and running, from a technological standpoint, former employees say the new ringleader of social media's public square is dousing it in proverbial kerosene, with sparks closing in.