In a wide-ranging interview with BBC News, Elon Musk revealed details about his leadership at Twitter – including his mass layoffs and appointing a new “CEO” – his dog.
Musk, 51, took over the social media company in November, calling himself “Chief Twit,” but promised he would appoint new leadership. It does not appear that happened, but in an interview with BBC News’ James Clayton on Twitter Spaces, a livestreaming function of the social media site, Musk joked that he did.
“I did stand down,” he said. “I keep telling you, I’m not the CEO of Twitter. My dog is the CEO of Twitter.” In the past, Musk tweeted a photoshopped image of his dog, Floki, as CEO.
And while it may seem unconventional to many, Musk said he sleeps at the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco sometimes. “There’s a library nobody goes to on the seventh floor and there’s a couch there and sometimes I sleep there,” he said.
This habit is not new to Musk, who was known for sleeping at Tesla headquarters often. After showing “CBS Mornings'” Gayle King his sleep set-up at Tesla in 2018 – a bench in a conference room – a GoFundMe was created to “buy Elon a couch.” That same year, he told the New York Times he worked up to 120 hours a week and sometimes takes Ambien to get to sleep.
In speaking with BBC News, Musk said he doesn’t sleep at Twitter five days a week because he isn’t at the headquarters five days a week. He also runs Tesla and SpaceX and is one of the richest men in the world. Musk also has nine living children, only two of whom are legally adults, with three women.
Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, selling many of his Tesla shares to be able to do so, which he told BBC News he did not want to have to do.
After taking over, Musk promptly laid off a large portion of Twitter’s workforce – about 7,500 people – but said it didn’t hurt Twitter’s functionality. He said the people who predicted that it would cease to work because so many engineers left are clearly wrong. “We’re on Twitter right now,” he said, referring to the Twitter Spaces platform.
He claimed the mass layoffs were “one of the hardest things” he’s had to do. “Not fun at all. Painful,” he said, adding that Twitter now has just 1,500 employees.
Former employees sued Musk over the terminations, with some alleging he went back on promises he made about his takeover and at least one saying he did not receive proper notification of the layoffs, which violates California laws, according to CBS News Bay Area.
Musk wrote brash comments and mocked laid-off employees on Twitter, including an employee from Iceland named Haraldur Thorleifsson, an entrepreneur whose company was acquired by Twitter who said he was laid off without warning before being terminated. Thorleifsson — who uses a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy and was named Iceland’s person of the year last year for his philanthropic efforts, including building wheelchair ramps across the country — asked for clarity from Musk.
Musk replied: “The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that,” Musk wrote.
He later apologized for that comment, writing: “It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful,” Musk said.
Musk often shares tweets that some find controversial or outlandish and he admitted he has shot himself in the foot “with tweets multiple times.”
“I think I should not tweet after 3 a.m.,” he said. “If you’re going to tweet something that maybe is controversial, save it as a draft then look at it the next day and see if you still want to tweet it.”
He also admitted the criticism he receives is taxing, adding that he doesn’t have a “stone-cold heart.”
“If you’re under constant attack and that’s getting fed to you nonstop, including through Twitter, that’s tough,” he said of the mean tweets and criticism he’s received. He said, however, the feedback is sometimes necessary, so he doesn’t mute his mentions, or tweets where people mention his Twitter handle.
On the topic of banning TikTok, Musk said he doesn’t use it but he’s heard people regret most of their time spent on the video app, which is under scrutiny for its privacy and data policies and is being investigated by the federal government. “We don’t want regretted time, we want un-regretted time, where you learn things,” he said. “I get more laughs out of Twitter than anything else and many people tell me the same thing. So that’s a good thing.”
- Elon Musk
Caitlin O’Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.