Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has seen the social media platform’s workforce of engineers decimated. The billionaire Tesla owner sacked half of Twitter’s 7,500 global workforce a week after taking over the company, put an end to remote working and set an ultimatum for remaining staff to agree to longer, more intense working patterns or leave.
Eugen Rochko, a 29-year-old programmer from Germany who created Mastodon as an alternative to Twitter in 2017, called the billionaire CEO’s leadership style “erratic” and said it showed “incompetence”.
Mr Rochko told BBC Newsnight: “I would say it shows incompetence and a lack of understanding of the industry that he’s entered and the platform that he’s now in charge of. I would call (Mr Musk’s leadership style) erratic, and frankly, I’m not a fan of it.”
He continued to say that the size of Twitter was not enough to insure it against failure. “There are examples from history of social media platforms which were also immensely huge, like MySpace, for example, and they lost their relevance,” the Mastodon founder said.
“Perhaps they’re still around, but they’re no longer popular or the place that you go to. And even though Twitter is very large, it’s still not even the largest social media platform out there.”
He added: “I definitely think that with the issues that it’s having right now, and with new management under Elon Musk, that it has a real chance of actually disappearing, because, well, it takes a lot to run a social media platform like that, that deals with real-time data and, you know, losing most of its engineers is not a good thing.”
Mastodon has seen a dramatic rise in new users since Mr Musk took over Twitter three weeks ago. In an interview with the US tech magazine Wired earlier this week, Mr Rochko said some 800,000 new Mastodon accounts have been created, overwhelming popular servers and flooding existing users’ timelines with introductions, questions, and complaints.
Meanwhile, a trade union representing Twitter workers in the UK has written to the social media giant expressing its concerns over Mr Musk’s restructuring of the company. On Friday (18 November) it emerged that Twitter had closed its offices to workers until Monday (21 November).
Trade union Prospect, which says it represents a third of Twitter’s UK workforce, has now written to the company raising its concerns about the treatment of the firm’s staff, how its redundancy consultation process will work and has asked for a meeting with Twitter to discuss them.
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “We are deeply concerned by further reports of the treatment of Twitter employees. From removal of remote working, demanding commitment to long hours and unsustainable working practices, and now locking employees out of their offices, we will not let these makings of a digital (cruise company) P and O pass unchecked.
“We are urgently seeking a meeting with Twitter UK Ltd to discuss how it will manage its collective redundancy consultation, ensure a fair and transparent process, and meet its duty of care and legal obligations to employees, including those with particular needs. Prospect will continue to do everything we can to support our members at Twitter. Big tech barons are not above the law and we will hold Twitter to legal account where possible.”