It’s lonely at the top – just ask Elon Musk’s former colleagues.
The Twitter owner tells the same jokes and anecdotes “over and over” and “seems quite alone,” according to a former senior executive at the company.
Esther Crawford, who went viral last year after being pictured sleeping on the floor of Twitter’s office while trying to meet a tough deadline set by Musk, shared her thoughts in a post on the platform which was recently renamed X.
Crawford joined Twitter when it bought her startup in 2020, well before the billionaire took over the social media platform in a $44bn deal last year.
The former head of product development, who was sacked in February as part of a round of 200 layoffs, said: “Elon is oddly charming and he's genuinely funny. He also has personality quirks like telling the same stories and jokes over and over.
“The challenge is his personality and demeanour can turn on a dime going from excited to angry.
“Since it was hard to read what mood he might be in and what his reaction would be to any given thing, people quickly became afraid of being called into meetings or having to share negative news with him.”
She said Twitter employees feared being called into meetings with him or having to deliver bad news. “At times it felt like the inner circle was too zealous and fanatical in their unwavering support of everything he said.”
“Product and business decisions were nearly always the result of him following his gut instinct, and he didn't seem compelled to seek out or rely on a lot of data or expertise to inform it.
“I saw a person who seemed quite alone because his time and energy was so purely devoted to work.”
Meanwhile, Musk appeared to put more faith in random feedback and Twitter polls than in his employees who were working to troubleshoot problems. She said: “His boldness, passion and storytelling is inspiring, but his lack of process and empathy is painful.”
However, she didn’t pull any punches about the previous management either, calling it “bloated” and “soft and entitled” where “teams could spend months building a feature and then some last-minute kerfuffle meant it'd get killed for being too risky.”
Musk recently killed off the iconic bluebird Twitter logo, replacing it with a white X. He has said he wants to create a super-app inspired by China’s WeChat which would offer messaging and payments as well as social media.
That vision may be difficult to make a reality, after the collapse of the platform’s advertising business as marketers soured on Musk’s decision to fire thousands of employees and dial down its content moderation efforts.
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