Chaos and Surprises at Twitter

Published at 19:14 on 4 November 2022

So, we are getting the chaos and surprises I predicted earlier.

The predicted exodus of users hasn’t happened, though. What has happened is a bunch of advertisers putting their spending on pause and an (involuntary) exodus of employees. Or should I say the exodus hasn’t happened yet. It still might, if the user experience becomes as intolerable as the employee experience just has.

Regarding the latter, it is hard to imagine something more destructive and disruptive to a business than to suddenly lay off about half of your staff:

  1. Nobody was really planning for this, so it has doubtless thrown lots of plans into disarray. Projects that were near completion will now be put on hold, and likely end up totally unused. All the labor (labor that Twitter paid for) spent on them will have been wasted.
  2. If you lay off that many people in a hurry, you are not going to make very good decisions about who to lay off, for the simple reason that rushed decisions are seldom good decisions.
  3. Any set of layoffs tends to increase the overall fraction of waste and inefficiency in an organization. The waste and inefficiency often has power inside the bureaucracy, and acts to preserve itself. Cushy jobs are good for those who hold them, after all. It is possible to fight this tendency with good planning, but see point 2 above. There is not good planning here.
  4. Twitter has just become a horrible place to work at. Nobody likes to work in a horrible workplace. So some workers are going to quit and work elsewhere. Which workers can most easily quit and work elsewhere? Why, the most skilled and valuable ones, whose labor is in the most demand, of course. This is yet another factor that will act to decrease efficiency.
  5. Those who remain will be overworked. Tired, overworked workers tend to produce lower quality work. Yet another hit to overall efficiency.

And at the same time Musk is doing this, he is driving his advertisers, his main source of revenue, away.

It is almost as if being wealthy and famous does not automatically make one an expert at everything. Imagine that.

Ironically, this might all end up being Elon Musk’s gift to the world, just not in the way Musk intended: if Musk destroys Twitter (and unless he corrects course, he just might), maybe something better will replace it.

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