Will Musk’s ‘shock and awe’ management used at Tesla and SpaceX work on Twitter?

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AP Yonhap News

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who acquired the social network service (SNS) platform Twitter for $44 billion in late October, is applying the broad management approach used to put Tesla and SpaceX on track to Twitter, but the present It was noted that it is uncertain whether the ‘success formula’ will work again this time.

The New York Times (NYT) pointed out on the 21st (local time) that the management method used by Musk at Tesla and SpaceX was a blueprint for the confusion and crisis that occurred after he acquired Twitter. Musk shocked the organization with mass layoffs at Tesla and SpaceX, threw away even family and friends, and pushed them to focus on work, and they say they are using the same approach even after taking over Twitter.

On the 4th, Musk fired 3,700 of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. Then, on the 16th, he pressured me to decide whether I should continue working or not and replied within a day, saying, “If you don’t have the confidence to handle intensive and long-time work, get paid and leave.” Around 1,200 additional workers left the company on the de facto ‘leave request’. On the 21st, after a meeting with Twitter sales staff the day before, layoffs took place in the sales department. As of the afternoon of the 21st, there are reported to be around 2,700 Twitter employees.

Musk has often encouraged a sense of crisis that the company could go out of business. According to a SpaceX executive who asked not to be identified, Musk said in 2017 that the company would go bankrupt if it did not launch rockets at least twice a week. A former SpaceX executive said the threat of bankruptcy was Musk’s way of motivating his employees.

Showy self-exploitation is also Musk’s specialty. On the 14th, Musk tweeted, “I’m staying up all night at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. I will work and sleep here until the organization is established.” He previously worked 120-hour days while sleeping on the floor of a Tesla factory conference room in 2018, when Tesla was struggling with mass production of the Model 3.

Two former Tesla executives said, “Creating a sense of crisis and self-harm was a way to justify Musk’s radical change and mass layoffs and forcing the remaining workers to endure extreme working conditions to achieve the results Musk wanted.” he said.

The NYT pointed out that it is doubtful whether Musk’s management style will work on Twitter. While Tesla and SpaceX were in their early stages of growth when Musk was picking on his employees in harsh ways, Twitter is a more mature organization.

“It’s not clear whether Musk will be able to motivate social media workers the way he is being used at companies that build electric cars and send humans into space,” said Tammy Madsen, a business professor at Santa Clara University.

Those who worked with Musk have similar concerns. David Dick, who served as Tesla’s chief engineering manager from 2014 to 2016, said, “Musk’s management tactics are good for startups and growth, but not good for building a stable company.” Former Tesla and SpaceX executives, who asked not to be identified, pointed out that while Musk’s “all-in” style with the company is sometimes encouraging, it can create a climate of fear within the organization.

Twitter users seem to be leaving Twitter in droves. According to Business Insider, 1.3 million Twitter accounts became inactive in the six days after Musk acquired Twitter.

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