Twitter Gets a Makeover from Elon Musk

On his first day at Twitter, Twitter's new ‘Chief Twit’ quietly changed the homepage.

Twitter Gets a Makeover from Elon Musk

Elon Musk changed Twitter's homepage within 24 hours of completing his $44 billion acquisition. users who are logged out will be redirected to the Explore page that displays trending tweets and news stories, according to employees who requested anonymity to speak without permission from the company. Previously, visiting Twitter's homepage while logged out resulted in only a sign-up form, which encouraged the creation of an account in order to view tweets. A VP's involvement was required to override Musk's directive late Friday, which was designed to prevent rogue employees from making changes during the takeover process.

Musk did not provide a detailed explanation for the change, but it was clear to those employees who observed it that there would be no more sacred cows. A decision of this nature would have been contested between teams for weeks in the old Twitter. However, this was the new Twitter. In the words of a former executive: "That's definitely one way to make it clear that you are in charge now."

Changing Twitter's homepage is an example of how Musk, less than three days into his reign as "Chief Twit," has started to swiftly transform the company. Twitter's mobile app has been updated to rename the paid subscription feature, Super Follows, to "Subscriptions" as he prepares to lay off a large number of employees in the coming days. Using Starlink, his satellite-based internet service at SpaceX, he has also discussed making Twitter accessible to countries where it is currently unavailable.

Team members tasked with completing Musk's tasks have worked late into the night and on weekends while their managers compiled lists of team members to be laid off. According to a person familiar with the matter, Musk fired Parag Agrawal, the former CEO, and other top executives "for cause" in an attempt to avoid paying out tens of millions in stock to them. (The Information was the first publication to report that Musk had fired the Twitter executives for the cause.)

The employees are now concerned that layoffs will begin before November 1, when a significant percentage of them will receive stock grants paid out in cash at $54.20 per share. Musk responded to a tweet featuring another story claiming that layoffs would occur before this date by tweeting "This is false" shortly after the story was published.

Meanwhile, Musk is seeking assistance from his inner circle in order to better understand what he just purchased. Twitter's San Francisco headquarters has been cordoned off with Tesla vehicles parked outside and new security guards stationed at the entrance. Employees and internal correspondence seen by The Verge indicate that dozens of individuals from his family office, other companies, and social circles have been added to Twitter's employee directory and given company emails.

Among them are Alex Spiro, Musk's personal attorney who is acting as Twitter's de facto general counsel; Andrew Musk, his relative who works for his neural interface company Neuralink; Jehn Balajadia, CEO of The Boring Company; David Sacks, a prominent political donor and fellow “PayPal mafia” member; Jason Calacanis, a venture capitalist and longtime friend of Musk; and Sriram Krishnan, a former Twitter product leader and current VC at Andreessen Horowitz who is also close to Musk. (Some of these individuals were reported to be meeting with Twitter employees by The New York Times.)

Agrawal fired Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter's former head of product, in May. He was seen in the office last Friday, sparking speculation that he might return. Twitter's current head of product, Jay Sullivan, complicates this idea.

The co-host of the popular podcast All-In where Musk appeared earlier this year, Calacanis, tweeted on Saturday that he had met Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of safety, and was impressed by his commitment to security issues and his perspective. Roth's tweet quoted a thread about how the company was banning accounts that tweeted racial slurs as part of a "trolling campaign." Calacanis continued, "Twitter will be laser-focused on identity and safety over the next few weeks."

The first order of business for Musk has been to determine who he would like to keep in Twitter's engineering organization. Musk and Tesla engineers asked engineers to print out their recent code contributions from the last 30 to 60 days and bring them for review on Friday. As first reported by Platformer's Casey Newton, they were immediately instructed to shred their printouts and show the code on their computers instead. Tesla engineers have been monitoring a Twitter account that tracks Musk's private jet, expecting Musk and the Tesla engineers to visit Tesla's New York City office on Monday to continue code reviews.

The purpose of the reviews, according to managers, is to determine whether engineers can work at the speed and efficiency Musk demands and to eliminate engineering managers who do not regularly write code. “Managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!” he tweeted in May.

An inquiry for comment on this story was not responded to by Twitter's communications department, which has stopped responding to press inquiries since Musk's takeover.

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