Musk, the explosive leader of the social media site, hailed the changes he has do since the purchase of the site in October and the dismissal of more than two thirds of the staff. The layoffs, he said, were “not fun at all…painful.” Musk said Twitter had fallen to about 1,500 employees from more than 7,000. Musk also acknowledged issues, such as the shutdown of a Twitter data center, causing issues with the company’s servers.
“It was pretty catastrophic,” Musk said, and Twitter rushed to restore it.
He called Twitter’s open source its recommendation algorithm, the site’s focus on video, and its resilience in the face of broad transformation. He said Twitter was roughly balanced financially, advertisers were coming back to the site, and Twitter’s usage and growth was good.
“Many predicted that Twitter would stop working,” Musk said. “Their predictions didn’t come true… We’re literally on Twitter now.”
The billionaire made the comments in an interview with the BBC on Tuesday night on the company’s live audio feature, Twitter Spaces. In the interview, Musk said Twitter would change a new label that Twitter added to accounts, including NPR and the BBC, calling them state-affiliated media, instead highlighting their reliance on public funding.
But Musk also disputed that misinformation is more prevalent on the site, after the reporter was unable to cite a specific example of the phenomenon.
“You said you’re seeing more hateful content, but you can’t even name one,” Musk said, his tone growing increasingly agitated. “You just lied!”
The two continued back and forth.
“Give me an example! You literally can’t name one,” he said. “You literally said you’re encountering more hateful content and you couldn’t name a single example, that’s nonsense.”
The topic moved to covid.
“Covid is no longer an issue,” Musk said.
As the interview went on, Musk – who appeared in a jovial mood – made repeated jokes, including innuendos about Twitter’s name and the idea that his dog ran the company. Musk, who agreed to step down in December after a unscientific Twitter poll said he should, said he kept that commitment (because his dog is responsible.)
“I retired,” he said. “I keep telling you I’m not the CEO of Twitter, my dog is the CEO of Twitter.”
Musk also laid out his rules for avoiding controversy on Twitter.
He said he probably shouldn’t tweet after 2 or 3 a.m. And he acknowledged the controversies his tweets have sparked.
“Did I shoot myself in the foot with tweets multiple times?” He asked. “Yeah. I need bulletproof shoes at this point.
Musk said Twitter sought to turn one of its buildings, which is now vacant, into a homeless shelter, but was turned down by Twitter’s San Francisco office property manager.
Meanwhile, Musk seemed confirm a report that Twitter was hoarding powerful hardware to pursue generative artificial intelligence, the field that developed great language models such as ChatGPT.