Elon Musk’s Twitter storm continues.
The billionaire, whose messy $65 billion takeover of the social media giant continues to make headlines daily, has already aggressively fired thousands of employees worldwide — about half of Twitter’s workforce.
An employee who appears to have survived the initial purge has now joined the pile – after stepping in to publicly scrutinize his boss over the app’s poor performance.
In typical Musk fashion, the drama began with a tweet.
“By the way, I want to apologize for the fact that Twitter is super slow in many countries,” he wrote on Sunday. “The app does >1000 poorly stacked RPCs (remote procedure calls) just to render a home timeline!”
San Diego-based Twitter developer Eric Frohnhoefer publicly responded to Musk’s tweet, writing, “I’ve spent ~6 years working on Twitter for Android and can say that’s wrong.”
Musk replied, “Then please correct me. What is the correct number? Twitter is super slow on Android. What did you do to fix that?”
Frohnhoefer responded with a long series of tweets, acknowledging that “there is a lot of room for performance improvement in Android.”
“However, I don’t think the number of requests is the main problem,” he said.
“For a cold start of the app, there are ~20 requests to load a home timeline. Most requests are non-blocking and run in the background. This includes things like images, user preferences, hash flags, etc.”
He continued, “I think there are three reasons why the app is slow. First, it’s bloated with features that are underused. Second, we’ve accumulated years of tech debt trading velocity and features over performance. Third, we spend a lot of time waiting for network responses.”
Frohnhöfer concluded, “Honestly, we should probably prioritize some big rewrites to fight 10+ years of tech debt and call for aggressive feature deletion.”
A Twitter user chimed in: “I’ve been a developer for 20 years. And I can tell you that as a domain expert here, you should inform your boss privately. If you try to outdo him in public while he’s trying to learn and be helpful, you look like a hateful, selfish developer.”
Frohnhöfer replied: “Maybe he should ask questions privately. Maybe with Slack or email.”
On Monday, Musk simply tweeted, “He’s fired.”
Frohnhöfer later posted a photo of his locked Mac screen.
“I guess it’s official now,” he wrote.
The developer – who calls himself “San Diego of the Year” in his Twitter bio, a nod to The San Diego Union Tribune in 2021 to honor the 2.5million residents who have taken Covid vaccines – agreed with a user who commented “Elon seems like a terrible boss to work for”.
“We always say feedback is a gift,” he wrote. “Well, now the gift is unemployment.”
Musk later elaborated on the app’s performance issues and planned changes in a series of tweets – including disclosure that the “sent from iPhone” tag would be removed.
“I’ve been independently reported by multiple engineers at Twitter ~1200 RPCs, which is the number of microservices. The ex-employee is wrong,” he wrote.
“The same app in US takes about 2 seconds to update (too long) but about 20 seconds in India due to poor batch processing/verbose communication. User data actually transmitted is small. Part of today will be shutting down the bloatware “Microservices”. Less than 20% is actually needed to make Twitter work!”
He added: “And we will finally stop adding under each tweet what device a tweet was written on (waste of screen space and processing power). Literally no one knows why we did this…”
The latest row comes after Musk outraged Twitter employees by scrapping free lunches.
“He fired 3/4 of the employees. Now he plans to starve the others out. He is failure incarnate,” read a popular tweet responding to his decision.
Musk fired back a short time later, arguing that few employees had turned up for lunch anyway.
“Particularly bizarre given the fact that almost no one came into the office. Estimated cost per lunch served in past 12 months is >$400,” he wrote.
A former employee who claimed she left Twitter because of Musk challenged the new CEO over the cost of providing employees with breakfast and lunch.
“That’s a lie. I was doing this program until a week ago when I quit because I didn’t want to work for Elon Musk. For breakfast and lunch we spent $20-$25 per day per person. This made it possible for the Employees working through lunch & mtgs Office attendance was between 20% and 50%,” she tweeted.
However, Musk said the former employee was “wrong” and that the company spent “$13 million a year on food service for its San Francisco headquarters.”
“The badge in records shows that the peak occupancy was 25%, the average occupancy was under 10%. There are more people preparing breakfast than eating breakfast. They don’t even bother to serve dinner because there’s nobody in the building,” he replied.
Musk reportedly emailed employees last week telling them they expected to be in the office at least 40 hours a week.
– with Brooke Rolfe
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