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Former Twitter exec says a mercurial Musk rules by ‘gut’

A former Twitter product manager criticized Elon Musk’s leadership style at X, saying he made decisions by instinct, not data, surrounded by sycophants, causing fear among employees.



SAN SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES — A fired Twitter product manager said Elon Musk ran the company newly renamed X by instinct, not data, surrounded by sycophants with his mood changing unpredictably.

Esther Crawford, whose picture sleeping in a Twitter office late last year made her a viral sensation, shared her thoughts on Wednesday in a lengthy post at X.

“I disagree with many of his decisions and am surprised by his willingness to burn so much down, but with enough money and time, something new and innovative may emerge,” Crawford said in the post.

Crawford joined Twitter when it bought her startup in 2020 before Musk bought the social media platform for $44 billion.

“In person, Elon is oddly charming and he’s genuinely funny,” Crawford said.

“The challenge is his personality and demeanour can turn on a dime going from excited to angry.”

Twitter employees feared being called into meetings with him or having to deliver negative news, according to Crawford.

“At times it felt like the inner circle was too zealous and fanatical in their unwavering support of everything he said,” Crawford wrote.

“Product and business decisions were nearly always the result of him following his gut instinct, and he didn’t seem compelled to seek out or rely on a lot of data or expertise to inform it.”

Musk seemed to trust random feedback and Twitter polls more than employees working to solve problems at the company, according to Crawford.

“His boldness, passion and storytelling are inspiring, but his lack of process and empathy is painful.”

Musk has proven success tackling engineering problems, but a social networking platform requires emotional intelligence, Crawford said.

She did not spare the previous management, calling it “bloated” and “soft and entitled” where “teams could spend months building a feature and then some last-minute kerfuffle meant it’d get killed for being too risky.”

Musk killed off the Twitter logo this week, replacing the world-recognized blue bird with a white X.

After buying Twitter, Musk had said that he wanted to create a super-app inspired by China’s WeChat, which would function as a social media platform and offer messaging and payments.

Since Musk bought Twitter last October, the platform’s advertising business has collapsed as marketers soured on Musk’s management style and mass firings at the company that gutted content moderation.

In response, the billionaire has moved toward building a subscriber base and pay model in a search for new revenue.

Many users and advertisers alike have responded adversely to the social media site’s new charges for previously free services, its changes to content moderation, and the return of previously banned right-wing accounts.


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