What Led Twitter Users Into Voting Elon Musk Out: Timeline

After less than two months at the helm of Twitter Inc., Elon Musk asked his followers whether he should keep the job, pledging to abide by the result of the poll. They said he should step down.

After less than two months at the helm of Twitter Inc., Elon Musk asked his followers whether he should keep the job, pledging to abide by the result of the poll. They said he should step down.

It’s the latest episode in a tumultuous series of events that’s played out since he acquired the social network for $44 billion. In less than two months, Musk halved the company’s workforce, fired most of its executives, and asked the remaining employees to commit to “hardcore” hours.

He promised to restore free speech on the platform, but went on to ban several journalists and the owners of accounts he didn’t approve of. He tried to make paid subscriptions popular among users, but it was a particular hit among pranksters and satirists. It scared advertisers, who pulled back on spending, and raised alarm bells in regulatory offices, notably in Europe.

Here’s how events took place:

Oct. 27: Musk takes control

After being forced to complete the deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, Musk announces he has taken possession of the social network. His first act is to fire the board along with CEO Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, head of legal and policy Vijaya Gadde and General Counsel Sean Edgett, among others in executive leadership.

Oct. 28: Brands begin to take pause

As Musk plans to unban accounts and says he will charge for user verification, advertisers start to get nervous. General Motors Co. suspends ads, and others review their Twitter budgets.

Oct. 31: Top tweeters protest

Amid murmurings of plans to charge existing verified accounts, bestselling author Stephen King says in a tweet: “$20 a month to keep my blue check? F—- that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” Musk replies, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?” Musk double downs on promoting the product. A possible release date of Nov. 7 is debated.

Nov. 3: Massive layoffs begin

A memo is sent to all employees telling them of imminent layoffs and to watch for an email with the subject line: “Your Role at Twitter.” Badge access to offices is suspended as about 3,700 staffers receive word that they’ve been cut. Realizing employees essential for the continuity of the business have been let go by mistake, some are asked to come back.

Nov. 5: Dorsey apologizes

Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, who was a proponent of Musk’s acquisition, tweets: “I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.”

Nov. 8: Musk sells more Tesla

Despite a previous vow not to sell any more Tesla stock, Musk unloads an additional $3.95 billion, bringing the total sold in the past year to $36 billion at the time.

Nov. 9: Musk answers advertisers’ questions

In an attempt to stem the departure of brands from the platform, Musk hosts a Twitter Spaces Q&A with the head of sales Robin Wheeler, head of trust and safety Yoel Roth, and the CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, David Cohen. Musk brainstorms about how his subscription product can grow by building more commerce into the platform.

Soon after, the company’s blue check mark option becomes available for purchase, and immediately becomes a tool for impersonators. An account masquerading as Nintendo posts an image of Super Mario holding up a middle finger, while a fake Eli Lilly & Co. account tweets that insulin is now free. An impersonator Tesla account jokes about the carmaker’s safety record. Politicians and celebrities are also spoofed.

Nov. 10: More key executives quit

In his first meeting with employees, Musk tells them to brace for 80-hour weeks and requires everyone back in the office full time, ending remote work and other perks like free food. He also says bankruptcy for the company is not out of the question if it doesn’t start generating more cash, and that teams need to move with urgency on the $8 subscription product.

Several executives in charge of keeping Twitter safe and accountable to its users quit, including Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner, Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran and Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty. Later in the day there is news that both Roth and Wheeler have resigned, although Wheeler returns soon after.

Nov. 11: Twitter adds badges with the “official” label

Twitter adds badges that say “official” to verified accounts in some places, though confusion abounds.

More brands depart the platform, including theater guide Playbill. “Because of its tolerance for hate, negativity, and misinformation, our time with the social media platform has come to an end,” the company said in a statement.

Nov. 16: Musk doesn’t want to be CEO

At a trial in Delaware Chancery Court over his $55 billion pay at Tesla, Musk says he doesn’t want to be CEO of the electric carmaker, let alone Twitter or any company. He says that he expects the restructuring of the social network to be completed by the end of next week, that he plans on spending less time at Twitter and will ultimately find someone else to run it.

Musk emails Twitter employees a form titled, “Would you like to stay at Twitter?” asking for a pledge to work long, intense hours with “Yes” as the only option. A response is required by the end of the next day — Nov. 17 — or they can leave with three months severance.

Nov. 17: #RIPTwitter is trending

As the employment deadline approaches, hundreds that don’t click yes on Musk’s ultimatum start to post their goodbyes across Slack, Blind and Twitter, many with a salute emoji and blue heart.

Nov. 18: “Hardcore” life begins

Musk summons remaining engineers to a meeting at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco to explain the Twitter tech stack to him. They are asked to email their achievements over the past six months and send screenshots of their most salient lines of software code.

Nov. 24: Twitter loses its Brussels office as departures continue

Twitter loses its last remaining employees in the regulatory hub of Brussels, at a time when it faces increasing scrutiny from lawmakers. The office was a key hub for Twitter to engage with a deluge of European regulation, much of which has only recently come into force.

Nov. 28: Musk accuses Apple of App Store threats

Musk claims that the iPhone maker had mostly stopped advertising on Twitter, and threatened to withhold the social network from its App Store. On Dec. 4, Musk says Apple has “fully resumed” advertising, de-escalating a brewing war with the tech giant after a meeting with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. Musk said the two had a “good conversation” and “resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store.” Musk said Cook was “clear that Apple never considered doing so.”

Dec. 02: Musk teases the “Twitter Files”

Musk teases the release of executive emails showing the internal debate at the social network over a controversial decision in 2020 to restrict access to an article about a laptop purportedly owned by Hunter Biden. The so-called Twitter Files include screenshots of user accounts as part of a collection of internal documents, which Musk handed over to reporters.

Dec. 13: Twitter disbands content moderation council

Twitter disbands its Trust and Safety Council, a group of independent experts who provided guidance on content moderation issues, days after several members quit over concerns about the company’s ability to police the platform for harmful content.

Dec. 14: Musk loses title as “world’s richest person”

Musk discloses that he’s sold another batch of Tesla shares, totaling $3.58 billion, bringing the amount he’s offloaded since late last year to almost $40 billion. The disposal of about 22 million shares coincided with Musk falling from the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, replaced by Bernard Arnault. Tesla’s market value also slumped below the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time since November 2020.

Dec. 16: Twitter bans journalists

Twitter suspends the accounts of journalists accused by Musk of posting his real-time location, something he described as “basically assassination coordinates.” The company says some of the accounts would be restored. Accounts tracking private jets, including Musk’s, are also banned from the platform.

The moves drew backlash from European politicians, with threats of future sanctions and lawmakers leaving the platform. “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said in a tweet.

Dec. 17: The hunt for new investors

Musk seeks new investors for Twitter at the same price he paid when he took the company private. The managing director of the billionaire’s family office, Jared Birchall, reached out to potential backers, news site Semafor reported.

Dec. 18: Twitter forbids the promotion of other social media

Twitter starts removing accounts promoting other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon. “We recognize that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter,” the company said on its own account. Some journalists see their accounts unbanned after Musk u-turns on his decision.

Dec. 19: Twitter users vote for Musk to step down as CEO

“Should I step down as head of Twitter?” Musk asks in a poll, promising to respect its outcome. About 58% of the 17.5 million voters are in favor of Musk giving up his position after 53 days at the helm, potentially leaving the company devoid of senior leadership. Musk was in Qatar to watch the World Cup final match between Argentina and France and tweeted out his poll after the game’s conclusion.

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