Twitter now valued at less than $20bn: Elon Musk suggests
Twitter CEO Elon Musk has reportedly indicated that the social media platform is now valued at less than $20 billion. According to technology news websites Platformer and the Information, who broke the story first, the estimate of Twitter’s valuation was based on Musk’s offer of equity grants to employees, reports BBC. A poo emoji was automatically sent in response to a BBC request for comment via Twitter’s press office email account, after Musk’s announcement of the strategy in a tweet earlier this month. Read More: Elon Musk apologizes after mocking disabled Twitter employee Meanwhile, Twitter reports that parts of the source code that powers multi-billionaire Elon Musk’s social media platform have been leaked online. It claimed that the code was uploaded to the Microsoft-owned website GitHub, where developers share code, the report said. After Twitter made a request for its removal, it was taken down. Read More: Elon Musk hopes to have Twitter CEO toward the end of year After cutting more than a third of Twitter’s staff and dealing with a loss of advertising since acquiring the company in October of last year, the leak presented Musk with a new challenge, said the report.
Elon Musk apologizes after mocking disabled Twitter employee
— If you’re not told you are fired, are you really fired? At Twitter, probably. And then, sometimes, you get your job back — if you want it. Haraldur Thorleifsson, who until recently was employed at Twitter, logged in to his computer last Sunday to do some work — only to find himself locked out, along with 200 others. He might have figured, as others before him have in the chaotic months of layoffs and firings since Elon Musk took over the company, that he was out of a job. Instead, after nine days of no answer from Twitter as to whether or not he was still employed, Thorleifsson decided to tweet at Musk to see if he could catch the billionaire’s attention and get an answer to his Schrödinger’s job situation. “Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” he wrote on Monday. Eventually, he got his answer after a surreal Twitter exchange with Musk, who proceeded to quiz him about his work, question his disability and need for accommodations (Thorleifsson, who goes by “Halli,” has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair) and tweet that Thorleifsson has a “prominent, active Twitter account and is wealthy” and the “reason he confronted me in public was to get a big payout.” While the exchange was going on, Thorleifsson said he received an email that he was no longer employed.Late Tuesday afternoon, however, Musk had a change of heart. “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful,” he tweeted. “He is considering remaining at Twitter.” Thorleifsson did not immediately respond to a message for comment following Musk’s tweet. In an earlier email, he called the experience “surreal.” “You had every right to lay me off. But it would have been nice to let me know!” he tweeted to Musk. Thorleifsson, who lives in Iceland, has about 151,000 Twitter followers (Musk has over 130 million). He joined Twitter in 2021, when the company, under the prior management, acquired his startup Ueno. He was lauded in Icelandic media for choosing to receive the purchase price in wages rather than a lump sum payout. That’s because this way, he would pay higher taxes to Iceland in support of its social services and safety net. Thorleifsson’s next move: “I’m opening a restaurant in downtown Reykjavik very soon,” he tweeted. “It’s named after my mom.” Twitter did not immediately respond to a message for comment.
Elon Musk hopes to have Twitter CEO toward the end of year
Billionaire Elon Musk said Wednesday that he anticipates finding a CEO for Twitter “probably toward the end of this year." Speaking via a video call to the World Government Summit in Dubai, Musk said making sure the platform can function remained the most important thing for him. “I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financial healthy place,” Musk said when asked about when he'd name a CEO. “I’m guessing probably toward the end of this year would be good timing to find someone else to run the company.” Musk, 51, made his wealth initially on the finance website PayPal, then created the spacecraft company SpaceX and invested in the electric car company Tesla. In recent months, however, more attention has been focused on the chaos surrounding his $44 billion purchase of the microblogging site Twitter. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military's use of Musk's satellite internet service Starlink as it defends itself against Russia's ongoing invasion has put Musk off and on at the center of the war. Also Read: Elon Musk’s Tesla tweet trial delves into investor damages Musk offered a wide-ranging 35-minute discussion that touched on the billionaire’s fears about artificial intelligence, the collapse of civilization and the possibility of space aliens. But questions about Twitter kept coming back up as Musk described both Tesla and SpaceX as able to function without his direct, day-to-day involvement. “Twitter is still somewhat a startup in reverse,” he said. “There’s work required here to get Twitter to sort of a stable position and to really build the engine of software engineering." Musk also sought to portray his takeover of San Francisco-based Twitter as a cultural correction. “I think that the general idea is just to reflect the values of the people as opposed to imposing the values of essentially San Francisco and Berkeley, which are so somewhat of a niche ideology as compared to the rest of the world," he said. "And, you know, Twitter was, I think, doing a little too much to impose a niche.” Musk's takeover at Twitter has seen mass firings and other cost-cutting measures. Musk, who is on the hook for about $1 billion in yearly interest payments for his purchase, has been trying to find way to maximize profits at the company. However, some of Musk's decisions have conflicted with the reasons that journalists, governments and others rely on Twitter as an information-sharing platform. Musk on Wednesday described the need for users to rely on Twitter for trusted information from verified accounts. However, a confused rollout to a paid verified account system saw some impersonate famous companies, leading to a further withdrawal of needed advertising cash to the site. “Twitter is certainly quite the rollercoaster,” he acknowledged. Forbes estimates Musk's wealth at just under $200 billion. The Forbes analysis ranks Musk as the second-wealthiest person on Earth, just behind French luxury brand magnate Bernard Arnault. But Musk also has become a thought leader for some as well, albeit an oracle that is trying to get six hours of sleep a night despite the challenges at Twitter. Musk described his children as being “programmed by Reddit and YouTube.” He warned that artificial intelligence should be regulated “very carefully,” describing it as akin to the promise of nuclear power but the danger of atomic bombs. He also cautioned against having a single civilization or “too much cooperation” on Earth, saying it could “collapse” a society that's like a “tiny candle in a vast darkness.” And asked about the existence of aliens, Musk had a firm response. “The crazy thing is, I’ve seen no evidence of alien technology or alien life whatsoever. And I think I’d know because of SpaceX,” he said. “I don't think anybody knows more about space, you know, than me.”
Ex-Twitter execs to testify on block of Hunter Biden story
Former Twitter employees are expected to testify next week before the House Oversight Committee about the social media platform’s handling of reporting on President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The scheduled testimony, confirmed by the committee Monday, will be the first time the three former executives will appear before Congress to discuss the company's decision to initially block from Twitter a New York Post article on Hunter Biden’s laptop in the weeks before the 2020 election. Republicans have said the story was suppressed for political reasons, though no evidence has been released to support that claim. The witnesses for the Feb. 8 hearing are expected to be Vijaya Gadde, former chief legal officer; James Baker, former deputy general counsel; and Yoel Roth, former head of safety and integrity. The hearing is among the first of many in a GOP-controlled House to be focused on Biden and his family, as Republicans wield the power of their new, albeit slim, majority. Read more: Twitter faces lawsuits over unpaid rent for US HQ, UK office The New York Post first reported in October 2020 that it had received from former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, a copy of a hard drive of a laptop that Hunter Biden had dropped off 18 months earlier at a Delaware computer repair shop and never retrieved. Twitter initially blocked people from sharing links to the story for several days. Months later, Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey called the company’s communications around the Post article “not great.” He added that blocking the article’s URL with “zero context” around why it was blocked was “unacceptable.” The Post article at the time was greeted with skepticism due to questions about the laptop’s origins, including Giuliani’s involvement, and because top officials in the Trump administration had already warned that Russia was working to denigrate Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election. The Kremlin had interfered in the 2016 race by hacking Democratic emails that were subsequently leaked, and fears that Russia would meddle again in the 2020 race were widespread across Washington. “This is why we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Rep. James Comer, chairman of the Oversight committee, said at a press event Monday morning. “We want to make sure that our national security is not compromised." The White House has sought to discredit the Republican probes into Hunter Biden, calling them “divorced-from-reality political stunts.” Read more: Elon Musk defiantly defends himself in Tesla tweet trial Nonetheless, Republicans now hold subpoena power in the House, giving them the authority to compel testimony and conduct an aggressive investigation. GOP staff has spent the past year analyzing messages and financial transactions found on the laptop that belonged to the president's younger son. Comer has previously said the evidence they have compiled is “overwhelming," but did not offer specifics. Comer has pledged there won’t be hearings regarding the Biden family until the committee has the evidence to back up any claims of alleged wrongdoing. He also acknowledged that the stakes are high whenever an investigation centers on the leader of a political party. On Monday, the Kentucky Republican, speaking at a National Press Club event, said that he could not guarantee a subpoena of Hunter Biden during his term. "We're going to go where the investigation leads us. Maybe there’s nothing there." He added, “We’ll see.”
Twitter faces lawsuits over unpaid rent for US HQ, UK office
More landlords are taking Twitter to court over unpaid rent, this time at the social media company’s headquarters in San Francisco and its British offices — the latest sign that owner Elon Musk's extreme cost-cutting strategy includes simply not paying the bills. Twitter is facing a lawsuit over allegations it failed to pay rent for its head office, according to California court documents. The owner of its premises in central London, meanwhile, said it's taking the company to court over rental debt. Musk is slashing costs after his $44 billion deal last year to buy Twitter left the company on the hook for about $1 billion in annual interest payments. Twitter has already been taken to court this month for falling behind on rent at another San Francisco office. It's the latest legal headache for Musk, who has been testifying in recent days in a separate class-action lawsuit from Tesla investors alleging his 2017 tweet misled them about funding to take the electric carmaker private. The billionaire Tesla CEO's cost-cutting strategy for Twitter also has included gutting the company’s workforce and auctioning off memorabilia and fancy office furniture. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Its communications department was shut down after Musk's acquisition. The owner of Twitter's San Francisco headquarters, located at 1355 Market St., is suing the company after it failed to make its latest monthly rent payment, according to documents filed Friday with the Superior Court of California. The company, Sri Nine Market Square LLC, said Twitter “breached the Lease by failing to pay monthly rent and additional rent” for January amounting to $3.4 million. Twitter, which has had a lease for three floors in the building since 2011, had fallen behind on a similar amount of rent in December, which Sri Nine Market Square recouped from a letter of credit that Twitter had put up as a security deposit, the filing said. Read more: 'Entering Twitter HQ - let that sink in!': Musk tweets After using those funds, the landlord says Twitter still owes $3.16 million in unpaid rent and is seeking late fees and interest plus attorneys’ fees. The social media company still occupies the property, the landlord said. In Britain, the Crown Estate has started court proceedings against Twitter after the company fell behind on rent at its offices near London's famed Piccadilly Circus. The Crown Estate, which owns some of the priciest real estate in central London, said it took action following previous contact with Twitter over the unpaid rent and is in talks with the company but provided no further information. The Crown Estate is a vast property portfolio that includes much of London’s Regent Street as well as the Windsor estate. It's an independently run commercial business, but its profits are used as a benchmark for the funding of the Sovereign Grant, which is the public money that funds the British royal family’s official work.
Southern California sheriff's deputy fatally shot east of LA
A Southern California sheriff's deputy was shot and killed Friday, just two weeks after another deputy in the department was slain in the line of duty. The suspect is in custody, authorities said. Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Darnell Calhoun was fatally shot Friday afternoon in the city of Lake Elsinore, authorities said on Twitter. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Few details were immediately available, including the suspect's identity and what prompted the shooting. It was not clear if the suspect also was injured. The sheriff's office plans to hold a news conference Friday night. Lake Elsinore is about 55 miles (88 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Friday's shooting comes as the sheriff's department is reeling from the death of Deputy Isaiah Cordero. The 32-year-old was fatally shot Dec. 29 during a traffic stop in the city of Jurupa Valley, east of Los Angeles. Read more: Shooting near Chicago school leaves 2 pupils dead and 2 injured Cordero had pulled over a pickup truck and the driver, 44-year-old William Shae McKay, shot the deputy as he approached the vehicle. Law enforcement pursued McKay in a manhunt that included a chase along freeways in two counties, authorities said. McKay was killed during a shootout with deputies after the truck crashed. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and Cordero's family have called for the resignation of a Southern California judge who allowed McKay's release from custody on bail despite his lengthy criminal history. The sheriff said McKay was convicted of a “third strike” offense in 2021 that should have put him in state prison for 25 years to life, but the judge lowered his bail, allowing his release, and later released him following an arrest for failing to appear at his sentencing. Read more: Killing of Bangladeshi-American in US: Human chain in front of MoFA demands justice
Musk says he can't get fair trial in California, wants Texas
Elon Musk has urged a federal judge to shift a trial in a shareholder lawsuit out of San Francisco because he says negative local media coverage has biased potential jurors against him. Instead, in a filing submitted late Friday — less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin on Jan. 17 — Musk's lawyers argue it should be moved to the federal court in the western district of Texas. That district includes the state capital of Austin, which is where Musk relocated his electric car company, Tesla, in late 2021. The shareholder lawsuit stems from Musk's tweets in August 2018 when he said he had sufficient financing to take Tesla private at $420 a share — an announcement that caused heavy volatility in Tesla's share price. Read more: Over half of 17.5mn Twitter users who voted say Musk should step down as CEO In a victory for the shareholders last spring, Judge Edward Chen ruled that Musk’s tweets were false and reckless. If moving the trial isn’t possible, Musk’s lawyers want it postponed until negative publicity regarding the billionaire’s purchase of Twitter has died down. “For the last several months, the local media have saturated this district with biased and negative stories about Mr. Musk,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in a court filing. Those news items have personally blamed Musk for recent layoffs at Twitter, Spiro wrote, and have charged that the job cuts may have even violated laws. The shareholders' attorneys emphasized the last-minute timing of the request, saying, “Musk’s concerns are unfounded and his motion is meritless.” “The Northern District of California is the proper venue for this lawsuit and where it has been actively litigated for over four years,” attorney Nicholas Porritt wrote in an email. The filing by Musk's attorneys also notes that Twitter has laid off about 1,000 residents in the San Francisco area since he purchased the company in late October. Read more: Journalist suspensions widen rift between Twitter and media “A substantial portion of the jury pool ... is likely to hold a personal and material bias against Mr. Musk as a result of recent layoffs at one of his companies as individual prospective jurors — or their friends and relatives — may have been personally impacted,” the filing said. Musk has also been criticized by San Francisco’s mayor and other local officials for the job cuts, the filing said.
Joy greets new era of Metrorail
On the eve of launching of country’s first elevated metro rail service, Sajeeb Wazed, ICT affairs advisor to Sheikh Hasina, took to his Twitter, announcing a new era into country’s transportation system. Linking the launching of much awaited metro service as “new era”, Sajeeb Wazed wrote “initially ten set trains with six coaches will run from Uttara to Agargaon.” With prime minister Sheikh Hasina set to inaugurate the service taking the first ride by herself, netizens on social media, mainly city dwellers surrounding the areas that fall under the coverage, hailed the move. Read more: New Year: Joy wishes nation from Padma Bridge In 2022, the country witnessed some of its biggest engineering marvels become operational including the biggest infrastructure undertaking — Padma Multipurpose Bridge, a testimony according to netizens testifies to Sheikh Hasina’s unparalleled leadership capabilities.
'Will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job': Musk
Elon Musk said Tuesday that he plans on remaining as Twitter’s CEO until he can find someone willing to replace him in the job. Musk’s announcement came after millions of Twitter users asked him to step down in an unscientific poll the billionaire himself created and promised to abide by. “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” Musk tweeted. “After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.” Read: Over half of 17.5mn Twitter users who voted say Musk should step down as CEO Since taking over San Francisco-based Twitter in late October, Musk’s run as CEO has been marked by quickly issued rules and policies that have often been withdrawn or changed soon after being made public. He has also alienated some investors in his electric vehicle company Tesla who are concerned that Twitter is taking too much of his attention. Some of Musk’s actions have unnerved Twitter advertisers and turned off users. They include laying off half of Twitter’s workforce, letting go contract content moderators and disbanding a council of trust and safety advisors that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform. Read: Musk's Twitter disbands its Trust and Safety advisory group Musk, who also helms the SpaceX rocket company, has previously acknowledged how difficult it will be to find someone to take over as Twitter CEO. Bantering with Twitter followers last Sunday, he said that the person replacing him “must like pain a lot” to run a company that he said has been “in the fast lane to bankruptcy.” “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted. As things stand, Musk would still retain overwhelming influence over platform as its owner. He fired the company’s board of directors soon after taking control.
Over half of 17.5mn Twitter users who voted say Musk should step down as CEO
More than half of 17.5 million users who responded to a Twitter poll created by billionaire Elon Musk over whether he should step down as head of the company had voted yes by the time the poll closed Monday. There was no immediate announcement from Twitter, or Musk, about whether that would happen, though Musk said that he would abide by the results. Musk attended the World Cup final on Sunday and may be midflight on his way back to the U.S. early Monday. Musk has taken a number of unscientific polls on substantial issues facing the social media platform, including whether to reinstate journalists that he had suspended from Twitter, which was broadly criticized in and out of media circles. Musk has clashed with some users on multiple fronts and on Sunday, he asked Twitter users to decide if he should remain in charge of the social media platform after acknowledging he made a mistake in launching new speech restrictions that banned mentions of rival social media websites on Twitter. The results of the unscientific online survey, which lasted 12 hours, showed that 57.5% of those who voted wanted him to leave, while the remaining 42.5% wanted him to say. The latest poll followed yet another significant policy change since Musk acquired Twitter in October. Twitter had announced that users will no longer be able to link to Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon and other platforms the company described as “prohibited.” That decision generated immediate blowback, including criticism from past defenders of Twitter's new owner, that Musk promised not to make any more major policy changes without an online survey of users. The action to block competitors was Musk's latest attempt to crack down on certain speech after he shut down a Twitter account last week that was tracking the flights of his private jet. The banned platforms included mainstream websites such as Facebook and Instagram, and upstart rivals Mastodon, Tribel, Nostr, Post and former President Donald Trump's Truth Social. Twitter gave no explanation for why the blacklist included those seven websites but not others such as Parler, TikTok or LinkedIn. A test case was the prominent venture capitalist Paul Graham, who in the past has praised Musk but on Sunday told his 1.5 million Twitter followers that this was the “last straw” and to find him on Mastodon. His Twitter account was promptly suspended, and soon after restored as Musk promised to reverse the policy implemented just hours earlier. Policy decisions by Musk have divided users. He has advocated for free speech, but has suspended journalists and shut down a longstanding account that tracked the whereabouts of his jet, calling it a security risk. But he has changed policies, and then changed them again, created a sense of confusion on the platform about what is allowed, and what is not. Musk permanently banned the @ElonJet account on Wednesday, then changed Twitter's rules to prohibit the sharing of another person’s current location without their consent. He then took aim at journalists who were writing about the jet-tracking account, which can still be found on other social media sites, alleging that they were broadcasting “basically assassination coordinates.” He used that to justify Twitter's moves last week to suspend the accounts of numerous journalists who cover the social media platform and Musk, among them reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications. Many of those accounts were restored following an online poll by Musk. Then, over the weekend, The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz became the latest journalist to be temporarily banned. She said she was suspended after posting a message on Twitter tagging Musk and requesting an interview. Sally Buzbee, The Washington Post's executive editor, called it an “arbitrary suspension of another Post journalist” that further undermined Musk’s promise to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech. “Again, the suspension occurred with no warning, process or explanation — this time as our reporter merely sought comment from Musk for a story,” Buzbee said. By midday Sunday, Lorenz's account was restored, as was the tweet she thought had triggered her suspension. Musk was questioned in court on Nov. 16 about how he splits his time among Tesla and his other companies, including SpaceX and Twitter. Musk had to testify in Delaware’s Court of Chancery over a shareholder’s challenge to Musk’s potentially $55 billion compensation plan as CEO of the electric car company. Musk said he never intended to be CEO of Tesla, and that he didn’t want to be chief executive of any other companies either, preferring to see himself as an engineer instead. Musk also said he expected an organizational restructuring of Twitter to be completed in the next week or so. It’s been more than a month since he said that. In public banter with Twitter followers Sunday, Musk expressed pessimism about the prospects for a new CEO, saying that person “must like pain a lot” to run a company that “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.” “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted. ___AP writer Brian P. D. Hannon contributed to this report.