A member of the quartet who founded Twitter said Elon Musk has undone the work he did to improve the company’s culture—and added he’s not sure the Tesla CEO is the right person to own the platform.
Biz Stone co-founded the social media giant in 2006 along with Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey. He was brought back to the platform by the chief executive at the time—Dorsey—to “guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling”. But in an interview with the Guardian Stone said that although he had made “a lot of improvements in those areas” it had all vanished under Musk: “It’s all gone now.”
Twitter has suffered stormy waters since being taken on by the SpaceX founder, with Musk openly saying he can’t fix the problem’s platforms “overnight” given his other commitments. In response to claims of “outright censorship on the platform”, Musk said it was the “first [he’d] heard of it”.
Musk has also embarked on a huge cost-saving exercise at Twitter, which has including axing more than half its workforce. A source familiar with the matter said earlier: “Twitter doesn’t have, you know, human rights team or strategy and operations team, barely an HR team, much of the legal team has gone, like it’s really really basic functioning.”
As Twitter’s workforce has shrunk, Musk has also eliminated various employee perks and put everything from excess office furniture to company espresso machines on the auction block. Twitter did not immediately respond to Fortune when contacted for comment.
With the gathering issues it is perhaps no surprise that when Stone was asked if Musk was the right owner for the platform, he answered: “It doesn’t seem like it right now, but I could be wrong.” He added that heading up a social media organization is “not really a win-win situation…it’s always tough”, because “50% of the people are gonna be happy, 50% of people are gonna be upset with you”.
“You have to be OK with stuff that you just don’t like or don’t agree with being on there. Otherwise, you should just go buy a magazine or a newspaper or something where it’s OK to have a specific leaning,” he continued.
But despite his reservations about who is at the helm of the company, Stone said Twitter will survive its financial struggles in some way, shape or form: “I don’t know that Twitter as a company is going to succeed for ever but the idea of Twitter I think will be around.”
What has Dorsey said about Musk’s takeover?
According to court filings seen by CNBC last year, Dorsey wanted Musk on the board of Twitter. In a text message from Dorsey to Musk on March 26, Dorsey wrote: “The board is just super risk averse and saw adding you as more risk.”
The filings, which were partially redacted, revealed Dorsey added the board “was completely stupid and backwards.” He explained he had limited influence on the matter because “I only had one vote, and 3% of company, and no dual class shares. Hard set up”.
The filings added Dorsey said when Musk was rejected from the board “that’s about the time I decided I needed to work to leave, as hard as it was for me”. Dorsey stepped down as Twitter CEO in November 2021 and then left the board in May 2022.
As late as December last year, Dorsey was still defending Musk’s takeover. Although he said Musk’s attacks on his former employees was “dangerous”, he added talking the company private had given it a “fresh reset”.
Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.