Elon Musk led a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and appointed himself CEO there at the end of October. He has since recruited senior executives and engineers from his other companies, including SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company to help out at the social media company, according to internal CNBC records and interviews with recent Twitter employees.
Musk has also given investment firm partners who participated in the Twitter buyout access to work within the social media firm.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many hours each person had worked at Twitter to date, or how much of their work could be done remotely compared to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters or other offices.
Shareholders remain concerned about how Musk’s financial commitments, split schedule and controversial decisions at Twitter could affect the automaker. Tesla’s stock has fallen about 25% since its acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 27.
Internal records from CNBC showed that more than 50 Tesla employees, mostly Autopilot software engineers, were authorized to work for Musk at Twitter immediately after he took office and were still authorized to work there through early December. The names include people previously reported by CNBC, as well as:
- Director of Software Development Silvio Brugada
- Director of Infrastructure Engineering and Information Security Rajasekar Jegannathan
- Senior Manager of DevOps Michael Outland
- Andrew Ross, Head of Battery Manufacturing Engineering
- Chief Information Officer Nagesh Saldi
- Autopilot Project Manager RJ Sekator
Lawyers questioned Elon Musk in November in a Delaware court about his use of Tesla talent on Twitter. The lawsuit and trial are designed to determine whether Tesla’s board of directors followed the law when it awarded Musk a massive CEO pay package in 2018.
The attorneys asked, “Has anyone suggested to you that perhaps as a public company it might not be a good idea to use the public company’s resources for your private company?”
In his statement, Musk described the work of Tesla employees for him on Twitter as “just a voluntary thing”. He also said: “That was sort of an after hour, just if you’re interested in evaluating that – helping me evaluate the Twitter technique would be nice. It was very short term. I think it lasted a few days and it was over.”
Musk also said, “I didn’t really consider this to be a use of Tesla assets as I was only asking on a voluntary basis and I didn’t provide a number of people. I don’t know what the number was, but I don’t know. I don’t think it was quite 50. But it was a small number. There are 120,000 employees in the company, just to be clear, so this is a small thing.”
A Tesla employee told CNBC that most employees at the electric vehicle company would be honored if asked to work extra hours at other Musk companies. However, they said most would also find it impossible to deny a direct request from Musk without later facing poor performance reviews or other consequences. This person did not want to be named because he was not authorized by the company to speak to the press.
In addition to Tesla employees, Musk has also recruited executives and employees from SpaceX, the reusable rocket and satellite internet services company he founded in 2002, to help him on Twitter. SpaceX is a major US defense company whose revenue comes from contracts with NASA and the US Air Force, among others.
More than a dozen SpaceX employees were authorized to work at Twitter in early December, including:
- Vice President of Human Resources Brian Bjelde
- Chief Financial Officer and Head of Strategic Acquisitions Bret Johnsen
- Director of Information Technology Joshua Ursenbach
At least three of Musk’s top executives at his tunneling company, The Boring Company, are also authorized to work for him on Twitter as of early December. They are:
- President Steve Davis
- Director of Electrical and Software Engineering Riccardo Biasini
- Chief of Operations John Balajadia
Along with employees from his other companies, Musk has brought long-time friends and investors involved in “Twitter 2.0” under his leadership. As of early December, people eligible to work at the company include:
- Angel investor Jason Calacanis
- DFJ growth partner and founder Randy Glein
- Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Sriram Krishnan (former Twitter contributor)
- Samuel Pullara, Managing Director of Sutter Hill Ventures
- David Sacks, partner and co-founder of Craft Ventures
- Five people from Valor Equity Partners, including company founder Antonio Gracias and Elon Musk’s former chief of staff at Tesla and SpaceX, Sam Teller, who is now a venture partner at Valor.
A recent Twitter contributor told CNBC that Musk has “flattened” the organizational structure at the company since early November, leaving many executives with over 20 direct reports at a time. Most were closer to 10 before the Tesla CEO took over, giving them time for mentoring.
It’s also now more difficult for employees to determine who’s working on which projects within Twitter because Musk’s team eliminated a tool called Birdhouse, which was previously used as an internal directory and organizational guide.
Spokespersons for Twitter and other Musk companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.