TWITTER LAYOFF: ELON MUSK’S OUTRAGE TOWARDS THE TECHNICAL TEAM AT TWITTER MAY DESTROY THE SOCIAL MEDIA GIANT FROM INSIDE
Since Musk first expressed interest in acquiring Twitter, he has been criticizing Twitter’s algorithm and the morality of its user-acquisition strategy. Due to these criticisms, many anticipated him to make significant changes at Twitter.
Musk considers himself to be the ultimate disruptor, and after taking over Twitter, he did so in a way that seemed to support his criticism of the social media company’s product ethics. The top management staff started leaving one by one after that. CEO Agrawal, head of legal, policy, and trust, Vijaya Gadde, and CFO Ned Segal are among those who have been let go.
Agrawal was not your typical CEO that was fired. His use of Twitter increased roughly simultaneously with the popularity of the social media site. Five years after Twitter’s founding, the Stanford University alumnus joined the company in 2011 as a software developer. He rose through the ranks to become the company’s chief technical officer (CTO) before taking over as CEO in November 2021, in a sense embodying the fundamental principles of Twitter prior to the purchase.
Product engineers and the core tech team, according to Nilesh Shah, managing director and CEO of Envision Capital, are what differentiate and define a company. They serve as its “moat” and are crucial in helping it develop from a startup to a mature business, he claims, and they can even predict if a start-up will succeed or fail.
The Repercussions of Parag Agarwal‘s Departure
Will Agrawal’s departure result in a tech disruption that Musk did not expect given his in-depth understanding of the codebase of the social media platform?
Although Agrawal’s dismissal was regrettable, according to experts, it might not have had a significant influence on Twitter’s regular operations. A CTO or CEO typically avoids operational issues at their scale and concentrates on strategic goals. Additionally, Twitter’s culture has become more or less institutionalized as a mature social network.
Anand Jain, co-founder and product lead at Clevertap, observed that the tech team initially shapes the product and realizes the overall vision for the company. As the organization develops, the promoters begin to spot potential leaders and prepare them to take the helm when the time is appropriate.
Depending on whether they were successful in their jobs, stayed faithful to the fundamental mission, or were able to realize the full value of the business’ growth, he said, the departure of a core team member might have either positive or negative repercussions. According to Jain, founders have really been observed giving the reins to younger members of management as a firm evolves over the course of 20 to 30 years and taking on a coaching role.
An overzealous tech entrepreneur
Musk, a self-described technophile, created the video game Blastar as a teenager and sold its BASIC to a PC magazine for $500. To assist newspapers in creating online city guides, he founded Zip2 in 1995. Four years later, Compaq Computers purchased Zip2 for $341 million. Then he created the financial X.com, which eventually evolved into PayPal.
Musk has, thus far, only made sporadic attempts to run a tech or tech-products company. In 2015, he helped start the OpenAI artificial intelligence research lab, although he left the board not long after. The next year, he co-founded Neuralink, a brain-machine interface neurotechnology business.
In 2004, the daring businessman invested in Tesla Motors as a pioneer in the electric vehicle industry. Intriguingly, Musk and Martin Eberhard, who co-founded the business and later became its CEO, had a number of disagreements. In 2007, Musk was requested to take over as the company’s CEO and product architect.
Musk does not have any experience running a large tech-based company like Twitter, unlike some of the other massive purchases that have happened in the user technology arena, like Facebook purchasing WhatsApp. Instead, he appears to be counting on a third party like Binance to change Twitter’s tech philosophies.
The CTO of a large American multinational and an angel investor in early-stage start-ups, Pradip Ghose (name changed upon request), believes that the departure of the core tech team from a major product does not always result in a bad consequence. He uses WhatsApp and Apigee as examples to highlight how the businesses expanded after the departure of the founders of the core technical team.
He noted instances where start-ups failed, either on purpose as part of a larger acquisition plan or because the new management was unable to maintain the success owing to inexperience or poor strategy.
Integrating With The Blockchain
For several reasons, Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp—now known as Meta—was successful. Its dominance in the messaging market can be largely ascribed to the fact that Facebook is a tech company and that its founder Mark Zuckerberg is a programmer who realized his dream of building a fully functional internal tech stack for the business. Facebook removed WhatsApp from IBM SoftLayer’s cloud four years after the acquisition and put its whole architecture on Facebook’s own data centers.
On the other hand, Musk is attempting to involve a blatant outsider in running Twitter’s tech operations. The biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance, contributed $500 million to Twitter. However, given that it has disclosed that it is developing a blockchain-based approach to defining the platform’s operations, including the thorny subject of controlling the bot problem that almost caused the Musk-Twitter deal to fail, its involvement is crucial.
Twitter has considered utilizing blockchain technology to administer its operations before. Before leaving the firm, its co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey also suggested using blockchain technology. With Musk’s clear intention, it looks that Twitter’s fundamental tech philosophy may change, placing user trust over user enjoyment.
Musk stated earlier in April that if he were to successfully acquire Twitter, one of his top priorities would be getting rid of the fraudulent bot armies since he thought they had made the company “far worse.” The startup creator, who was previously mentioned, claimed that it is unclear whether or not Binance will be able to help Musk control the bots.
The group in charge of the strategy for content moderation will need to have a future-proof approach to addressing bots and false information. This can begin with the difficult task of quantifying false accounts and bots, he noted. Additionally, the Twitter of today is simple to use and makes it easier to share and create information. Given that many users would be able to use Web3, which relies on tokenization or avatars for verification, it is unclear how a blockchain version will benefit consumers.
Ahead of the curve
Like WhatsApp, Musk finds success in the fact that Twitter is the undisputed leader in the microblogging industry, with a close second not even in sight. Even if the organization experiences short-term disruption as a result of Agrawal’s departure, Musk’s reliance on a third party, such as Binance, and his own non-tech background, Musk has the time to recover.
It is unlikely that Agrawal’s departure will create a void in the social media stratosphere that a rival will fill right away. In the next three to five years, it will be challenging for a rival platform to provide a service similar to the microblogging website, claims CleverTap’s Anand.
Anil Joshi, the managing partner of Unicorn India Ventures, stated that Twitter is a large organization and is unlikely to fail with a few key personnel leaving. However, it (their exits) can give competitors a chance to catch up with product innovation and affect the firm.
Divergent Points of View
Due to Big Tech’s engagement in swaying public opinion, their mergers and acquisitions frequently take on an ideological tinge. The Facebook leadership and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton publicly argued over concerns like user rights and privacy. So much so that he later created Signal, a comparable application that offered consumers communication encryption as a guarantee.
The Musk-Agrawal controversy is viewed as the result of two corporate leaders’ divergent views on how the social media platform should view freedom of speech. Ghose contends that while Twitter’s features and functionality are advanced, its algorithms and controls are heavily influenced by the ideals and philosophies of its founders and the previous administration.
He pointed out that, “for instance, Dorsey tried to maintain Twitter as a responsible platform despite the upheaval created by polarized perspectives, notably by industry executives and policymakers.” When necessary, he also made swift decisions while attempting to distinguish between propaganda and false information. This is something that one might anticipate from Musk.
Despite all of Signal’s advancements, its user base still falls far short of WhatsApp’s, and this is the advantage that top tech and consumer products give the acquirer. “Finding the right people to help Musk modify and customize Twitter to meet the demands of his new product team shouldn’t be too challenging. It will take a lot of time and effort for any rival platform, even if it is founded by those who are leaving it—Dorsey has already announced Bluesky—to match Twitter’s level of success, according to Ghose, who also notes how Indian start-up Koo failed to make much progress against Twitter’s advance despite appearing to have the support of the current administration.
Twitter appears prepared for the tech transition with a new philosophical foundation given the long rope that Musk’s enormous financial war chest and Twitter’s leadership position offer.