Because of the screwed up Twitter takeover, new boss Elon Musk is facing a lot of headwind. However, he does not tolerate it from within his own ranks: several opponents were dismissed, at least one of them even via tweet.

It hasn’t been an easy few weeks for Elon Musk. Since officially taking over Twitter on October 26, he’s been churning out headline after headline. Almost half of the workforce had to go, Musk repeatedly introduced a new paid verification and withdrew it again. So it’s no wonder that a large part of the feedback is anything but positive. However, Musk reacts particularly sharply to objections from his own ranks: he simply dismisses those concerned.

This happened particularly drastically with developer Eric Frohnhoefer. When Musk publicly apologized that Twitter was too slow in many countries and justified this with the poor implementation of the apps, he probably couldn’t hold back. “I’ve been working on Twitter for Android for six years and I can say this is wrong,” he wrote under his boss’s tweet.

Fired for criticism

At first he reacted quite neutrally. “Then please correct me. Which number is correct?” Musk initially asked quite specifically. The new boss had claimed that the short message service was so slow because more than 1000 requests had to be made to other websites when it was opened. But there were more like 200, Frohnhoefer explained. But he doesn’t see that as the main reason for the poor performance anyway. The request developed into a confusing conversation over several Twitter threads. Musk eventually put a clear end to it. “He’s fired,” he wrote when asked by a user if Musk actually wanted to keep Frohnhoefer on his team. Before that, the developer had suggested to his boss that he should ask these questions in the company and not in public.

Musk has since deleted the termination tweet posted on Monday morning, but it has been adequately documented. However, the consequences for the developer remain: almost five hours after the tweet, he was suddenly locked out of his work computer, he reported to “Forbes”. “That’ll probably make it official then,” he posted, along with a photo of his locked computer. He hasn’t heard from HR yet.

Actually, he was not positioned against Musk from the beginning, Frohnhoefer emphasized to “Forbes”. He was part of the workforce who wanted to wait and see and measure Musk by his actions. But that changed quickly when he saw the boss in action. “It’s gone downhill steeply,” says the developer.

open hostility

Frohnhoefer is not the only employee who has been punished for public counter-speech. Although Musk wants to keep Twitter as a haven for freedom of expression, he doesn’t seem open to internal criticism. “Before the takeover, there was a good culture of criticism, people could be open. This is obviously no longer the case,” says Frohnhoefer.

Another example is manager Sasha Solomon, who verbally acted much more drastically than Frohnhoefer. She, too, was annoyed by Musk’s apology. “Did you seriously just lay off almost the entire infrastructure department and then make cheeky jokes about the way we work?” she asked about Musk’s tweet. Then to be clear. “You don’t get shit on infrastructure if you don’t give a fuck about it while you can’t keep up with new hires to replace the layoffs,” she said.

She should have been aware that insults like these would have led to terminations at other companies. “Lol I just got fired for silly posts,” she said shortly after. And showed no remorse: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kiss my ass, Elon.”

As harsh as the tweets are and as much as they would be grounds for termination in other companies, they show a clear problem for the new owner. At the latest after half the workforce has been thrown out, the other employees are rather hostile towards him. The fact that he doesn’t shy away from badmouthing their work in public should only add to the frustration. “Nobody trusts anyone in the company anymore,” Frohnhoefer summarizes the dilemma. “How is that supposed to work anymore? The employees don’t trust the management, the management doesn’t trust the employees. How are you supposed to get anything going?”

Incidentally, a request to the group’s PR team is currently not possible: Musk has dissolved it.

Sources:Twitter, Forbes, The Verge