At a Twitter employees retreat in early 2020, Jack Dorsey, the corporate’s co-founder after which chief govt, invited a star visitor to talk to his workers: Elon Musk.
The Tesla chief govt complained to the viewers by way of video concerning the proliferation of spam bots on the platform — the identical challenge that he’s now wielding to stall his $44bn provide for the social media firm.
Past Musk’s continued obsession with the faux accounts, the looks was additionally testimony to the shut relationship between Dorsey and Musk, a billionaire “bromance” that has already dramatically shaken up the way forward for Twitter.
The pair’s alliance has fuelled hypothesis about whether or not Dorsey would possibly play a key function within the firm if a deal closes. But it surely has additionally angered many Twitter staffers who regard it as a betrayal of the social community, which is going through upheaval within the type of hiring freezes, cost-cutting measures and low morale and whose workers have been repeatedly mocked by Musk.
Regulatory filings earlier this week revealed that after Musk was first invited to affix Twitter’s board in early April as a significant shareholder, Dorsey “shared his personal view that Twitter would be better able to focus on execution as a private company”. Dorsey give up as Twitter’s chief govt final November however nonetheless stays on the board, whose members additionally embody Salesforce chief govt Bret Taylor, tech entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, and former Google chief monetary officer Patrick Pichette.
In accordance with individuals near the state of affairs, the recommendation stemmed partly from rising tensions between Dorsey and fellow Twitter board members over how the corporate ought to be run and points together with content material moderation.
Previously, he had clashed specifically with activist fund Elliott Administration, which beforehand held a seat on Twitter’s board. Dorsey noticed the fund as too industrial and targeted on the brief time period, in response to a number of individuals. Some board members, in the meantime, grew more and more annoyed by what they perceived as Dorsey’s lack of engagement.
Only a week after Dorsey mentioned Twitter could be higher off if taken personal, Musk introduced his plans to just do that. Upon the board agreeing to the takeover, Dorsey tweeted: “Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”
In precept, I don’t consider anybody ought to personal or run Twitter. It desires to be a public good at a protocol degree, not an organization. Fixing for the issue of it being an organization nevertheless, Elon is the singular resolution I belief. I belief his mission to increase the sunshine of consciousness.
— jack (@jack) April 26, 2022
“Jack’s philosophy was to negotiate a peace settlement with Elliott and then to build up to taking the company private, so those people would never be able to have their incentives impact a product as important to society again,” mentioned an individual near him.
Dorsey maintained an expert relationship with board members however felt personally challenged by Elliott, which took a board seat at Twitter after investing within the firm in early 2020, in response to a number of individuals aware of the conferences.
Elliott was involved on the time that Dorsey was distracted by his second chief govt function at funds firm Sq. and demanded a quicker tempo of product innovation. Dorsey was embracing notions corresponding to decentralisation and blockchain expertise and rejected Elliott as too capitalistic.
All through the deal course of, Musk has taken public swipes on the board over a few of its content material moderation selections, in addition to the variety of faux accounts on the location. Dorsey has joined him in criticising Twitter’s board and tweeted in April that it had “consistently been the dysfunction of the company”.
These feedback may be attributed to Dorsey’s rising disdain for Wall Avenue and US politics, which dates again a number of years, in response to individuals near him.
Dorsey grew to become disenchanted following a number of congressional hearings through which he was referred to as to testify about content material moderation points and commenced to really feel the corporate was getting used as a political pawn, one particular person mentioned.
On the similar time, the board put Dorsey below extra strain to debate and tackle huge content material moderation points — such because the banning of former US president Donald Trump — which he was reluctant to do, individuals aware of the matter mentioned.
After the board referred to as on Dorsey to commit his efforts full-time to main Twitter within the wake of the January 6 assault on the US Capitol final 12 months, he declined and ultimately resigned from his place as chief govt, two individuals mentioned.
These tensions didn’t manifest into rows or raised voices. In accordance with these with information of the state of affairs, Dorsey remained unemotional and passive throughout board conferences, which irritated the extra aggressive, extremely engaged personalities within the room — though he has grown extra brusque with the board in latest negotiations over the deal.
Twitter declined to remark. Sq., which is now referred to as Block, and Elliott Administration didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.
Whereas Dorsey just lately mentioned he would by no means return to the corporate as chief govt, he has mentioned with Musk whether or not he might proceed to “hold equity of the surviving corporation or one or more of its affiliates following the merger”, in response to Twitter’s regulatory filings.
Exterior of their shared curiosity in Twitter, the 2 entrepreneurs have discovered frequent floor on subjects corresponding to cryptocurrencies, open supply expertise and free speech. Each have achieved success as Silicon Valley founders who’ve run a number of corporations on the similar time.
“Jack was obviously ‘team Elon’ from day one,” mentioned Stefano Bonini, a company governance knowledgeable at Stevens Institute of Expertise.
The developments have unsettled many employees inside Twitter, in response to three workers and former executives. The filings revealed that the pair had been nearer than workers had initially realised, one particular person mentioned.
Some staffers really feel that Dorsey, as soon as a guru-like determine revered internally, is rewriting the historical past of the corporate by publicly criticising selections on content material moderation that occurred whereas he was chief govt, and never backing the brand new chief govt, Parag Agrawal, who he performed a big function in hiring.
Many are upset that he didn’t defend Twitter’s coverage and authorized chief Vijaya Gadde when, simply days after the deal was agreed, Musk began to put up criticism publicly of her moderation selections, together with blocking a information article about US president Joe Biden’s son Hunter. This prompted Gadde to obtain a barrage of harassment and racist insults.
However, some query the sincerity of the connection. “Jack genuinely believes that taking the company private is the right thing. And if there’s an avenue to do it, and quick, that it’s worth it,” mentioned one particular person near him. “[But] these relationships are tentative. They’re built on men protecting their legacies.”