In video call that turned out to be a freewheeling question and answer session moderated by a Twitter executive, the billionaire Tesla CEO touched upon a wide range of subjects, from his views on improving Twitter's health to his ideas on ‘free speech’ to talks about the existence of aliens. In the process, he also hinted on a potential layoff.
Here are a few things Musk discussed with Twitter employees.
“Free Speech with some moderation”
Elon Musk, who claims to be a free speech absolutist, told employees that people should be “allowed to say anything they want on the microblogging platform, as long as it doesn't violate the law”.
But Musk also seemed to acknowledge that some content moderation is necessary. He added that while the platform should allow all legal speech, Twitter needs to make sure people “feel comfortable” with the service, otherwise they won't use it.
For example, Twitter shouldn't promote harmful speech, and users should be able to filter their own feeds. He said people want to see "entertaining" content, pointing to the wild popularity of the short video app TikTok.
Earlier he has criticised the company's rules against misinformation and other legal but harmful content. And he has said that he would bring back former President Donald Trump, whom Twitter banned after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6.
Musk hints at layoffs
“Right now, costs exceed revenue,” Musk told employees when asked about the possibility of layoffs during the session, even though he didn’t explicitly talk about job cuts.
The billionaire's comments did hint at such possibilities in the near future. When employees asked Musk if layoffs are planned for the future, he said, “It depends. The company does need to get healthy", as reported by CNBC.
Musk also said that there has to be some rationalisation of headcount or else Twitter won’t be able to grow in the future, further adding that “Anyone who is a signification contributor has nothing to worry about.”
In contrast, CEO Parag Agrawal previously assured Twitter employees earlier that layoffs are not on plan "at this time".
“Advertising is important for Twitter”
Musk told the staff that he would look to raise the service's user numbers to at least a billion people and said advertising would remain important for the company.
In the past, Musk had spoken about making Twitter advertisement-free. He said, “Twitter should not serve ads.”
This time Musk reiterated that he is not against advertising as a model, noting that it's very important to Twitter's business, and in fact ads and subscriptions are both key to boosting revenue.
"I think advertising is very important for Twitter," Musk said. "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,” he told Twitter employees.
He also reiterated he was still trying to learn more about bot and spam accounts on Twitter, which he earlier called his biggest concern.
Only “exceptionals” can Work from Home
When Musk was asked about the future of remote work at Twitter, he said he's open to letting only “excellent contributors” to work remotely or from home.
Twitter was one of the first tech companies to allow staff to avoid the office at the outset of the pandemic. Under former CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter announced in 2020 that employees would have the option to work from home or from anywhere "forever."
Earlier this month, Musk told Tesla employees they had to return to the office full time or resign if they didn’t want to return to in-person work. But he clarified that Twitter is a different company than Tesla and while he favours in-person work, only “exceptional” workers would retain flexibility.
Do Aliens exist? Musk is still not sure
During the interaction, Musk brought up the existence of aliens and other space civilisations. He said that he hasn't seen actual evidence of aliens.
Last year, while sharing witty banters with fans, the SpaceX CEO posted a video on Twitter, asking, “Where are the aliens?” And then says again after a few minutes later saying, “Maybe they are among us, I don’t know.”
Then he said something that made the Twitter user ask him whether he is an alien or not.
He jokingly says, “Some people think I am an alien,” then adds, “Not True”.
The Twitter user who operates the handle Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley asked: "Is @elonmusk an alien?" To which, Musk replied “Of course”. This Twitter interaction got a lot of reactions from fans and critics.