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Elon Musk ‘alone’ as he considers blanket paywall

Another day, another Twitter roundup – ranging from an early investor describing Elon Musk as “alone and winging it” to the billionaire owner considering putting the entire Twitter platform behind a paywall.

A former senior Twitter engineer has also told the story of how the company wanted him to comply with a carrier request to track individual user locations from leaving home in the morning to everywhere they went during the day …

Elon Musk “alone and winging it”

Early Twitter investor and venture capitalist Chris Sacca has said that Musk has one of the greatest minds he has known, but that the billionaire is completely alone now because he has no one around him who dares to speak truth to power.

I’ve known Elon a long time. I’ve admired his thinking & ambition. His ability to note and question the assumptions implicit in the rest of our thinking is a rare type of genius I’ve only seen in the greatest minds. His success to date is not an accident. Tesla is world positive […]

But Twitter isn’t going to get better for users, the advertisers aren’t coming back at scale, and his huge investment just isn’t going to pay off unless there is genuine dialogue leading to thoughtful progress and stability […]

This guy is alone. He has plenty of “pals” and is the life of parties and dinners. But the hard truth is that he is straight-up alone right now and winging this […]

I really want this thing to work. The only way I see that happening is if anyone around Elon can speak some truth to power and complement his bold and ambitious instincts with desperately needed nuance. Humans aren’t math and physics problems […]

I can’t sit by and watch a guy I’ve looked up to for over a decade fumble this opportunity, stoke more insanity, and likely hurt a bunch of folks in the process.

The whole thread is worth reading.

Musk considered paywalling the whole platform

A Platformer report says that Elon “free speech absolutist” Musk has discussed putting the whole of Twitter behind a paywall.

[The paywall would mean] charging most or all users a subscription fee to use Twitter.

Both Musk and Sacks have discussed the idea in recent meetings, according to a person familiar with the matter. One such plan might allow everyone to use Twitter for a limited amount of time each month but require a subscription to continue browsing, the person said. 

It could not be learned how serious Musk and Sacks are about the paywall; Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Twitter Blue plans would lose money

Musk has touted Twitter Blue as a way to bring in additional revenue, but it seems that the number-crunchers have concluded that it would have the opposite effect.

Employees have warned about a secondary feature of the new Blue that Musk added at the last minute: reducing ad load in the Twitter app by half. Estimates showed that Twitter will lose about $6 in ad revenue per user per month in the United States by making that change, sources said. Factoring in Apple and Google’s share of the $8 monthly subscription, Twitter would likely lose money on Blue if the ad-light plan is enacted.

“The business fundamentals are just not there,” said one former employee who worked on the plans.

The hugely controversial planned pay-to-play verification feature has been delayed until after the midterms.

Twitter wants sacked engineers back; faces lawsuits

Musk fired around 50% of Twitter’s global staff, amounting to around 3,700 layoffs. These were reportedly made after managers were asked for two-sentence reports on each of their team members: one sentence on what they did, the other on why they should be retained.

Surprise, this absurdly reductionist approach has backfired, with Twitter now seeking to rehire some of those they fired.

Some of those who were laid off with three months’ pay fear that Twitter may simply rescind their redundancy notices, and then fire them for cause if they refuse to return – which would mean losing the payout. Others who were laid off are suing the company, claiming that they were selected because they were not currently productive, for reasons ranging from maternity leave to cancer treatment.

Twitter wanted to sell individual user location data

A former senior Twitter engineer has posted a thread describing how a mobile carrier asked the company to sell them detailed location data. Steve Krenzel said that Twitter asked him to comply, and it was only his refusal to do so, and escalating to Jack Dorsey, which saw the plan abandoned.

I wound up meeting with a Director who came in huffing and puffing. The Director said “We should know when users leave their house, their commute to work, and everywhere they go throughout the day. Anything less is useless. We get a lot more than that from other tech companies” […]

My last email written at Twitter was to Jack. To his credit, he responded quickly with something to the effect of “Let me look into that and make sure there isn’t a misunderstanding. It doesn’t seem right. We wouldn’t want to do that.”

Again, the whole thread is worth reading. Tune in for tomorrow’s Twitter roundup.

Photo: Warren Wong/Unsplash

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