Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 Tesla employees into Twitter

The Twitter profile of Elon Musk is visible on the Apple iPhone mobile device.

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New Twitter owner Elon Musk pulled more than 50 of his trusted Tesla employees, mainly software engineers from the Autopilot team, entered his Twitter account, CNBC learned.

Musk, who is CEO of automaker Tesla and reusable rocket maker SpaceX, completed a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 28 and he did his sign there immediately. He fired the company’s CEO, chief financial officer, heads of the legal team immediately, and dissolved Twitter’s board of directors.

According to internal documents seen by CNBC, employees from other Musk companies have been authorized to work on Twitter, including more than 50 from Tesla, two from the Boring Company (which is building underground tunnels) and one from Neuralink (which is developing a 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 co-founder and venture capitalist David Sacks, are also involved. So are two people who share Musk’s last name, James and Andrew Musk, who worked at Palantir and Neuralink, respectively.

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Among the many who Elon Musk wrote directly from Tesla are: the director of software development Ashok Elluswamy, the director of Autopilot and TeslaBot engineering Milan Kovac, the director of software engineering Maha Virduhagiri; Pete Scheutzow, the senior manager of the personnel technology program, and Jake Nocon, who is part of Tesla’s surveillance unit, as the general manager of security intelligence.

Nocon used to work Uber and Nisos, a security company that had a multi-million dollar contract with Tesla to detect insider threats, and monitor critics of the company.

On Twitter, Musk is reading to his supporters and loyalists to decide who and what to cut or keep on the social network.

He is also forcing them to learn everything they can about Twitter as quickly as possible, from source code to internal models and data-privacy requirements, to improve the platform, several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend.

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Musk has called himself an outspoken absolutist, but he has to balance those ambitions with laws and business realities. He said in an open letter to investors last week when he was taking over the company: “Twitter clearly cannot be a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said without consequence.”

It’s not entirely clear how Tesla employees are expected to split their schedules between the automaker and Twitter.

Often, when Tesla employees work for other Elon Musk ventures, usually SpaceX or the Boring Company, they can be hired by the other business as professionals. Some of Musk’s employees have full-time jobs at more than one of his businesses. For example, Tesla Vice President of Materials Charlie Kuehmann, at the same time the vice president at SpaceX.

In some cases, two Tesla employees told CNBC, the automaker’s employees are forced to help with projects at other companies without extra pay because it’s considered good for their jobs, or because the work is seen as helping a related party. transaction or project.

Tesla has faced serious scrutiny around the technology built and maintained by its Autopilot team, namely the driver assistance systems, which are sold as Autopilot, FSD and FSD Beta.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles are all investigating whether Tesla or Musk broke laws and misled consumers about Tesla’s driver assistance systems, which are still under development and do not make the company’s cars self-driving. driving.

Meanwhile, the federal motor vehicle safety agency, NHTSA, continues to investigate whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems may have had a defect that caused or contributed to the crash. The way Tesla advertised these systems on social media, including Twitter, is part of another NHTSA investigation.

Code reviews and 12-hour shifts

Several Twitter employees told CNBC over the weekend that Tesla employees currently at Twitter are busy reviewing code on the social network, even though their skills from working on Autopilot and other Tesla software and hardware are not compatible with the languages ​​and systems used. build and maintain social networks. The employees asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media about internal affairs, and for fear of retaliation.

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For example, many engineers in car companies, even the tech-forward Tesla, do not have the knowledge to design and operate search engines and platforms that are widely available to the public.

Twitter has multiple codebases with millions of lines of code in each, and 10,000- or even 100-query per second (QPS) systems support it. At Tesla, Python is one of the programming languages, and at Twitter programmers used Scala extensively.

Twitter also has a lot of exposure to international laws around hate speech and data privacy, for example, in particular the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Twitter employees who were there before Musk took over said they were asked to show all their teams technical documentation, justify their work and the work of their teams, and explain their value within the company. The threat of dismissal is there if they do not please, he said.

The workers said they are worried about being fired without reason or warning, rather than being fired. Some are worried they won’t be able to reap the rewards of the stock elections scheduled for the first week of November, according to documents seen by CNBC.

Meanwhile, Twitter employees said they have not yet received specific plans from Musk and his team, and are in the dark about possible head cuts within their teams, budgets and long-term strategies.

Musk has set an impossible time for others to do-it-yourself stuff, however.

Another immediate project is to redesign the company’s subscription software, called Twitter Blue, and the company’s verification system (known sometimes as “blue check” for the way they are referred to the service). Employees say Musk wants that work done by the first week of November. The Verge previously reported that Musk wants to charge $20 per user per month, and only provide reviews to the accounts of paid user subscribers, and would remove reviews from accounts that do not pay for Twitter Blue.

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Managers at Twitter ordered some employees to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, in order to hit Musk’s deadlines, according to internal communications. The sprint orders have come without any discussion about overtime pay or comp time, or job security. The work completed by the early November deadline is considered a make-or-break issue for their career on Twitter.

In a state of fear and distrust, many Twitter employees stopped communicating on internal systems about work issues. Also, some of Twitter’s Slack channels have gone silent, multiple employees told CNBC.

Meanwhile, Musk and his inner circle have been pumping messages stored in systems, looking for people to fire and budgets or projects to cut.

On Sunday night, in a demonstration of his unfettered access to inside information in the company, CEO Elon Musk (who calls himself “Chief Twit” but is officially CEO and sole director) posted a screenshot to his 112 million followers listed on Twitter.

The image showed the words given by Twitter’s head of security and integrity, Yoel Roth, in May 2022. At that time, Musk was trying to get out of his contract to buy Twitter for $ 54.20 per share.

In court, and in public, Musk has accused Twitter of falsifying metrics, particularly of playing down the amount of spam, fake accounts and malicious bots present on the platform.

In an internal message that Musk made public, Roth wrote disparagingly of a business associate named Amir, and also said, that if Amir continued to “BS” him or others about goals and important results, Twitter would be “doing exactly that.” Elon is blaming us.”

Musk is assumed in the tweet that, “Wachtell & the Twitter board intentionally hid this evidence from the court.” He also threatened further legal action, 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.


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