Elon Musk owns Twitter. How’d we get here?
On April 4th, 2022, we learned that Musk had purchased enough shares of Twitter to become its largest individual shareholder. Eventually, he followed up with an unsolicited offer to buy 100 percent of Twitter’s shares for $54.20 each, or about $44 billion. Twitter accepted Musk’s offer, but then things got weird because he tried to cancel the deal.
There was a lot of back-and-forth about bots and text messages, but in the end, Musk settled on buying the company rather than facing a deposition or Chancery Court trial and eventually strode into Twitter HQ carrying a sink.
Since then, there have been layoffs, more layoffs, and even more layoffs — plus drama over Substack, unpaid bills, and Twitter Blue. (Musk says “legacy” verified checkmarks are going away on April 20th — 4/20.)
Read on for the latest updates about what’s going on inside Twitter right now.
Zoe Schiffer, Casey Newton and 1 more
Inside Elon’s ‘extremely hardcore’ Twitter
This article is a collaboration between New York Magazine and The Verge. It was reported by Zoe Schiffer and Casey Newton, who write Platformer, and Alex Heath, who writes Command Line.Read Article >
In April 2022, Elon Musk acquired a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, making him the company’s largest shareholder, and was offered a seat on the board. Luke Simon, a senior engineering director at Twitter, was ecstatic. “Elon Musk is a brilliant engineer and scientist, and he has a track record of having a Midas touch, when it comes to growing the companies he’s helped lead,” he wrote in Slack.
TODAY, Two hours agoTwitter’s new ops pick is aimed squarely at advertisers.
Incoming CEO Linda Yaccarino announced that NBCUniversal executive vice president Joe Benarroch is joining Twitter (via Wall Street Journal). From the Journal:
“Tomorrow, I start a different professional adventure at Twitter, taking on a role focusing on business operations,” Benarroch wrote in the memo. He noted that he has worked with Yaccarino to champion and grow the company’s business priorities and help build partnerships, among other things. “I am looking forward to bringing my experience to Twitter, and to working with the entire team to build Twitter 2.0 together.”
Yaccarino’s hiring has helped rid the company of its “high risk” label, and bringing in NBCUniversal’s top ad sales person is another attempt to connect with advertisers.
Twitter head of trust and safety Ella Irwin has resigned
Twitter head of trust and safety Ella Irwin has resigned, she confirmed to Reuters, marking the departure of one of Elon Musk’s most important executives at Twitter. Irwin took over from Yoel Roth in November after Roth’s resignation earlier that month. Fortune’s Kylie Robison reported earlier on Thursday that Irwin’s Slack account appeared to be deactivated.Read Article >
In her months-long tenure, Irwin oversaw some turbulent cycles at Twitter, including periods where Twitter has come under scrutiny for not doing enough to curb child exploitation. Irwin herself shared internal Twitter information with Bari Weiss as part of the “Twitter Files” reports and reportedly directed banning Twitter accounts that shared information about Musk’s private jet.
May 30Twitter investor Fidelity says the company’s worth about a third of what Musk originally paid for it.
Not the first time Fidelity marked down its investment and I suspect it won’t be the last:
Fidelity first reduced the value of its Twitter stake in November, to 44% of the purchase price. That was followed by further markdowns in December and February.Twitter Worth Only Third of Elon Musk's Purchase: Fidelity
May 28”I love Elon… I just don’t want him to dump his poop in the river.”
The Washington Post reports regulators have hit Elon Musk’s Boring Company with multiple complaints over careless, unpermitted work in Bastrop County, Texas.
Elon’s “Snailbrook” plans to build a private community around his SpaceX and Boring Company facilities — as well as local unease about the effects of Elon’s “move fast” ethos on the countryside — have been reported by The Wall Street Journal and the San Antonio Express-News.
From the Post:
Amy Weir, a local property owner, said Musk’s companies have “no doubt done amazing things,” but that there was no need for them to “reinvent wastewater treatment” when the city was ready to handle the job. The penalties for violating the permit were far too low, she added. “The owner of these companies spent $44 billion on Twitter, and it had no impact on his ability to continue to build these businesses,” she said.Texas welcomed Elon Musk. Now his rural neighbors aren’t so sure.
May 27EU commissioner says Twitter has left its Code of Practice on Disinformation.
One of the EU’s commissioners, Thierry Breton, tweeted last night that Twitter has left the governing body’s Code of Practice on Disinformation. The voluntary code is intended to set forth standards for curbing weaponized disinformation.
Twitter and several other companies agreed to the rules in June last year.
May 26Twitter’s Spaces team now has “roughly three” people.
The team apparently has had as many as 100 people, but it’s been significantly cut down, Platformer reports. Perhaps that’s partially why the Twitter Space to launch Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign was such a disaster.Inside Twitter's failed Space launch
- Elon Musk is trying Twitter Spaces again, and this time it’s with Ford CEO Jim Farley.
The last Twitter Space Elon Musk attempted to host didn’t go so well, but he’s trying again anyway. Instead of a politician announcing a run for president, however, he’s logging on to talk with Ford CEO Jim Farley about “Accelerating EV adoption.”
With competition for electric cars heating up — are we about to see a new partnership for Tesla? The event is scheduled to start at 5:30PM ET.
- Elon’s jet-tracking mess could’ve been avoided if SpaceX filed the right paperwork?
Vice used FOIA requests to uncover some key emails between SpaceX and the FAA.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Privacy ICAO Aircraft Address program (PIA) allows private jet owners to essentially create a dummy or “temporary” aircraft registration number that is known only to the jet’s owner and the U.S. government.
Emails obtained by Motherboard show that SpaceX enrolled Elon Musk’s private jet in this program sometime prior to August 2022, but failed to properly implement the temporary tail number, allowing the plane to continue being tracked under its real, permanent tail number.
Plus, they were sent at around the same time as Musk and Twitter were banning / unbanning @ElonJet and journalists who mentioned it. Meanwhile, the guy behind the account is just starting another tracker for Ron Desantis.
Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis’ fiasco shows they didn’t realize Twitter needs TV
Look, Elon Musk just hosted the launch of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces, and I could say some things about hypocrisy — Musk insisting that “for Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral,” DeSantis promising to “hold big tech accountable.” But we’re all adults here. These men aren’t rational or consistent. They just want you to lick their boots, the big white baton twirler ones. So instead, let’s talk about the thing the Twitter Space made obvious: when it comes to politics, TV is still king.Read Article >
The basic facts of yesterday’s announcement are pathetic. Musk’s first attempt at holding a Twitter Space failed when more than 600,000 users tuned in concurrently. (By comparison, BuzzFeed got 800,000 concurrent viewers when putting rubber bands on a watermelon in 2016 on Facebook Live, without the technical difficulties, and Travis Scott drew 12.3 million people in Fortnite, similarly without failures.) DeSantis managed to join another Space with David Sacks, a fellow Musk PayPal mafioso and the event’s moderator. That one drew as many as 300,000 listeners, allowing DeSantis to finally make his announcement via glorified conference call, complete with a questioner who had trouble unmuting.
Twitter now lets you search for new lists to follow
Twitter is rolling out a handy feature that can help you discover new lists to follow. From the Lists tab on Twitter’s desktop site, you can now type a term into the newly added search bar and scroll through a bunch of related lists.Read Article >
The feature should make searching for new lists a lot easier, as you previously could only create your own lists or view the lists that other people follow from their profiles. While Twitter also provides recommended lists, this doesn’t give you any control over the types of lists you’re seeing.
May 20San Francisco is investigating Twitter following a lawsuit from ex-employees.
The lawsuit from the six employees has some startling allegations about how Elon Musk’s transition team deliberately planned to breach contracts and not pay bills, among other things. A Musk staffer apparently flat-out told one of the employees that “we just won’t pay rent.” (Twitter’s landlord in San Francisco has sued the company over, well, not paying rent.)'Flagrant bad faith': S.F. opens Twitter probe after explosive lawsuit from former employees
[San Francisco Chronicle]
This is Instagram’s new Twitter competitor
We finally have an idea of what Instagram’s rumored text-based Twitter competitor might look and feel like, as reported by Lia Haberman, who shared in her ICYMI Substack newsletter what appears to be a leaked marketing slide and details about the app.Read Article >
The slide doesn’t give the app a separate name — instead, it just calls it “Instagram’s new text-based app for conversations” — but the app is apparently codenamed P92 or, alternately, Barcelona, according to Haberman. Users will be able to sign in with their Instagram username and password, and your followers, handle, bio, and verification will transfer over from the main app.
Twitter’s biggest ad buyer no longer considers it ‘high risk,’ says report
The world’s biggest ad agency no longer considers Twitter as a “high risk” platform now that Linda Yaccarino — NBCUniversal’s former head of advertising — is lined up to replace Elon Musk as Twitter CEO. According to sources speaking to the Financial Times, WPP-owned GroupM removed its “high risk” classification on Monday, and has informed its clients that the company is “cautiously optimistic” about Yaccarino’s appointment.Read Article >
GroupM designated Twitter as “high risk” last November and warned its clients against buying ads on the platform following Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover. At the time, the ad agency cited concerns like the numerous “verified” users impersonating high-profile Twitter accounts, and the exodus of Twitter executives leaving or being fired from the company. Other advertising agencies like IPG and Omnicom Media Group similarly recommended that their clients pause spending on Twitter ads during this time.
Elon Musk’s lawyer accuses Microsoft of abusing its access to Twitter data
Elon Musk’s personal lawyer Alex Spiro sent a letter on behalf of Twitter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella that accuses Microsoft of violating Twitter’s developer agreement, as reported by The New York Times. In the Thursday letter (available in full below), Spiro claims that Microsoft may have been in violation of “multiple provisions” of Twitter’s developer agreement “for an extended period of time.”Read Article >
Until recently, Microsoft had integrated Twitter’s APIs with some of its products — Twitter’s letter claims Microsoft operated “eight separate Twitter API apps” integrated with products like Xbox, Bing, and its ads platform. But it began pulling support for those APIs in April, including dropping clip sharing to Twitter from Xbox, likely due to Twitter’s new and generally more expensive API tiers.
Elon Musk says ‘get off your work-from-home bullshit’
In an interview aired on CNBC, Elon Musk called remote work “morally wrong” and “bullshit,” arguing it was unfair to those workers who can’t work from home.Read Article >
Musk, who banned remote work at Twitter after acquiring the company, has not been shy about sharing his disdain about work from home policies. But in the interview, Musk was more animated than usual, arguing that remote work was counter-productive.
May 13Welcome to hell.
Twitter 1.0 was particularly notable for standing up to government censorship around the world. Twitter 2.0 under Elon Musk is actively complying with authoritarian government censorship demands ahead of elections. Well done. This is what hell looks like.
Twitter’s new CEO is Linda Yaccarino, a longtime ad exec for NBCU
Twitter has a new CEO, and it’s former NBCUniversal advertising executive Linda Yaccarino. Elon Musk announced her appointment in a tweet, saying she “will focus primarily on business operations, while I focus on product design & new technology.”Read Article >
“I am excited to welcome Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter!” Musk writes. “Looking forward to working with Linda to transform this platform into X, the everything app.”
Twitter’s new CEO is probably this NBC exec
Update May 12th, 11:58AM ET: Elon Musk made it official, announcing Linda Yaccarino is the new CEO of Twitter.Read Article >
Elon Musk says he has found a new CEO for Twitter and that “she” will start in a matter of weeks. It’s most likely going to be Linda Yaccarino, the current head of advertising and partnerships for NBCUniversal.
May 12Linda Yaccarino has resigned from NBCUniversal, clearing the way to take over Twitter soon.
On Thursday night Elon Musk said he’s hiring a new CEO for Twitter who will start in about six weeks, but didn’t name them. That’s apparently because the reported selection, Linda Yaccarino, was preparing a presentation for advertisers at her existing job with NBCUniversal.
Now NBCUniversal announced Yaccarino has resigned, so we may not have to wait six weeks to get the news officially confirmed.
Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.
Mitchell Clark, Emma Roth and 1 more
Elon Musk has found his replacement as CEO of Twitter
Update May 12th, 11:55AM ET: Elon Musk made it official, announcing Linda Yaccarino is the new CEO of Twitter.Read Article >
Elon Musk has announced plans for a new Twitter CEO but hasn’t said who it is. In a tweet on Thursday, Musk says that he has “hired a new CEO for X/Twitter” and that “she will be starting in ~6 weeks.” Musk will instead assume the role of executive chair and chief technology officer, “overseeing product, software & sysops” of Twitter.
May 11“Try it but don’t trust it,” is good advice for all of Twitter.
DMs are untrustworthy and flawed, like the service itself in 2023.
Twitter upgrades DM replies, Musk claims encrypted DMs launch on Wednesday
Twitter is making some big changes to direct messages and expects to introduce encrypted DMs on Wednesday, according to Tuesday evening tweets from the company and owner Elon Musk.Read Article >
Let’s start first with the immediate changes. As detailed in a tweet from the company’s support account, you can now reply to specific messages (which work like the in-line replies you might be familiar with in iMessage) and react to messages with any reaction instead of a limited few. I just downloaded the iOS app to my phone and both features were there. You can access them by pressing and holding on a specific message.
- “Starting today.”
In March, we wondered why no one could find any mention of the Twitter ad revenue split Elon Musk had advertised a month earlier as a reason to buy Twitter Blue.
Now, while saying that Tucker Carlson hasn’t signed a deal with Twitter for his new show, Musk acknowledged Twitter is “still working on the software” to make the split happen. He didn’t mention whether any subscribers will get their $8 per month fees refunded.
Tucker Carlson is taking his show to Twitter
Just weeks after leaving Fox News amid the wreckage of its $787 defamation lawsuit settlement with Dominion over lies about the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson has announced his show is coming back soon in “a new version,” but this time, it’s on Twitter.Read Article >
In a three-minute video haranguing the mainstream media circus he’s spent his career as a part of, Carlson insists that “the only one remaining” platform allowing free speech is Twitter, as opposed to the cable news outlets that he calls propaganda outlets.
May 5Not all of the Twitter Blue subscribers are sticking around.
Citing data scraped by independent researcher Travis Brown (you can have a look at his setup on Github), Mashable reports, “Out of about 150,000 early subscribers to Twitter Blue, just around 68,157 have stuck around and maintained a paid subscription as of April 30.”
Brown says his process gets data for about 90 percent of Blue subscribers. We’ll see if Elon ever releases any official numbers regarding the subscription to confirm or refute what’s accessible and estimated via scraping.