Since Elon Musk completed his acquisition of the microblogging platform Twitter, the company had seen a number of significant shifts within the last couple of weeks.
First, the new CEO fired a number of top executives including the previous CEO and the CFO. Then some 3,700 employees got fired while some were called back.
However, the numerous changes such as charging a premium-tier subscription for the platform and access to get the blue checkmark have led to many advertisers pausing their campaigns on the platform in order to see where things are going first before pouring out their top dollars.
The recent news from the company as narrated by its new CEO on Thursday is that there’s the possibility that Twitter may go bankrupt due to the chaotic run the company has had in recent times.
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While some public figures have virtue-signaled and claimed to have left the platform for other “safer” platforms like Meta’s Instagram or TikTok, Twitter has even gotten a warning from a U.S. privacy regulatory body.
According to a Bloomberg News report, just two weeks after Musk completed his purchase of Twitter, the billionaire on his first mass call with employees said he could not rule out bankruptcy.
Musk in his first company-wide email warned that Twitter would not be able to “survive the upcoming economic downturn” if it fails to boost subscription revenue to offset falling advertising income, three people who have seen the message told Reuters.
Even though a number of employees were fired by the company, some have voluntarily resigned from their jobs at the company. One of them is Yoel Roth who has overseen Twitter’s response to combat hate speech, misinformation, and spam.
In his Twitter profile on Thursday, Roth described himself as the “Former Head of Trust & Safety” at the company.
Update on our efforts to combat hateful conduct: We've not only mitigated the recent surge in harmful behavior, but have reduced impressions on this content in Search by ~95% relative to even prior baseline levels. We're continuing our work to make Twitter safer every day. https://t.co/g4X6ue0f8W pic.twitter.com/lK5fMRWCGb— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) November 9, 2022
Requests for comments never got any response from Roth. But he isn’t the only one to exit the company. Another top employee is the company’s Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner who tweeted that she had quit her job at Twitter.
I've made the hard decision to leave Twitter. I've had the opportunity to work with amazing people and I'm so proud of the privacy, security, and IT teams and the work we've done.— Lea Kissner (@LeaKissner) November 10, 2022
I'm looking forward to figuring out what's next, starting with my reviews for @USENIXSecurity 😁
Other top employees that left the company were the company’s Chief Privacy Officer, Damien Kieran, and Chief Compliance Officer, Marianne Fogarty.
The company’s top ad sales executive, Robin Wheeler initially told fellow employees in a memo that she would be staying at the company, however, another report gotten by a media reporter has it that she would in fact be leaving the company.
“I’m still here,” Wheeler tweeted late on Thursday.
I'm still here.— Robin Wheeler (@robinw) November 11, 2022
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it was watching Twitter with “deep concern” after three privacy and compliance officers left the company.
With these people leaving, it put Twitter at risk of violating regulatory orders according to reports.
Musk attorney Alex Spiro told some employees in an email late on Thursday that Twitter would remain in compliance.
“We spoke to the FTC today about our continuing obligations and have a constructive ongoing dialogue,” Spiro wrote.
He further added that only Twitter and not individual employees could be held liable against the orders.
“I understand that there have been employees at Twitter who do not even work on the FTC matter commenting that they could (go) to jail if we were not in compliance – that is simply not how this works,” he wrote.
Still, on the fact that Twitter could go bankrupt, Musk warned that employees who work remotely would be required to come back to the office for at least 40 hours per week.
Twitter, Musk, and Spiro did not respond to requests for comment on a potential bankruptcy, the FTC warning, or the departures.
Musk once stated that the company was losing US$4 million every day because advertisers began pausing their ads once he took over the operations of the company.
The company currently has a huge US$13 billion debt after the deal and faces interest payments of nearly US$1.2 billion in the next 12 months.
Musk has begun charging $8 a month for the Twitter Blue service which will include a blue check verification.
“We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” Douglas Farrar, the FTC’s director of public affairs, told Reuters.
“No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them,” Farrar said.
The company agreed to pay a US$150 million fine by the FTC over its alleged misuse of private information including phone numbers in order to target ads to users after telling them the information was only collected for security reasons.
Twitter’s privacy attorney on Thursday mentioned in the internal memo that Spiro had said that Musk was willing to take a “huge amount of risk” with the company. “Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC,” the attorney quoted Spiro as saying.
Twitter’s buyout has sparked concerns that Musk, who has often waded into political debates, could face pressure from countries trying to control online speech.
It prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to say on Wednesday that Musk’s “cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at.”
The new CEO has however informed advertisers that he aims to turn the platform into a force for truth and stop fake accounts which have seen a surge in recent times over the US$8 monthly subscription fee.
His assurances may not be enough.
But things are expected to settle down in months to come hopefully, Musk stirs the company to the right path with little controversies involved.