Elon Musk talked to Twitter (TWTR.N) staff for the first time on Thursday, airing his view that Twitter would require to reduce its headcount, but offering some other new details regarding his $44 billion planned acquisition of the social media company.
Musk made an appearance via video call ten minutes late to what happened to be an open question and answer session coordinated by a Twitter executive, in which Musk mulled over the existence of aliens and other space civilizations and his opinion that Twitter should help “civilization and consciousness.”
The Tesla chief executive, who is also CEO of rocket company SpaceX, told Twitter employees he wants to boost the service’s user numbers from 229 million to at least 1 billion people and said advertising would continue to be key to the company, despite previously saying he thinks Twitter should not serve ads, according to audio of the meeting heard by Reuters.
“I think advertising is very important for Twitter. I’m not against advertising. I would probably talk to the advertisers and say, like, ‘hey, let’s just make sure the ads are as entertaining as possible.'”
The Tesla CEO, who was expected to give his word to Twitter staff during his first meeting, did not provide an update on the deal closing.
He repeated he was still striving to gather more about bot and spam accounts on Twitter, which he called his major concern. Responding to a question about whether he planned for layoffs, Musk said there required to be “some rationalization of headcount and expenses.”
“Right now, the costs exceed the revenue,” he said, adding “anyone who’s … a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about.”
Twitter staff took to an internal Slack channel in streams during the session, sharing memes and complaining that Musk was not offering proper answers on his vision for the business and employee compensation.
They also demanded on Slack that the coordinator ask Musk for his views about remote work, as Twitter presently allows staff almost freedom to work remotely or in the office.
Musk said he believed Twitter employees should adopt working in an office, but conveyed willingness to make a few exceptions. The bias should be “strongly towards working in person, but if somebody is exceptional, then remote work can be okay,” he said.
The nearing takeover of Twitter has encountered broad skepticism and concern among the San Francisco-based company’s employees, several of whom have feared Musk will ease the rules on certain content.
The billionaire told Twitter employees he believed users should be entitled to say “pretty outrageous things” on the site provided that the content is not illegal.
Shares in Twitter dropped 1.5% and Tesla shares slid more than 9% in afternoon trading. Musk dialed into the call wearing a white shirt and seemed to be sitting in a kitchen, according to a source who watched the call.
When he switched off his video at the end of the Q&A, his avatar appeared to be two hands in the shape of the number 69, an obvious reference to a sex position, the source said.