Deep Dives

Former Twitter Blue chief criticizes Musk's impulsive management style

July 27, 2023
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Esther Crawford, ex-head of Twitter Blue, shared her experiences and thoughts on the bureaucratic culture under Twitter's old management, her time working with Elon Musk after his acquisition of the company, and going viral for sleeping in the office due to a tight deadline. She discussed the challenges and her cautious optimism about the future of the company, now renamed X.

Twitter's Old Management: Crawford found the previous management at Twitter bureaucratic and obstructive.
  • She felt that things were often siloed and inefficient, with unnecessary power plays and reorganizations.
  • The management structure was bloated, and the company culture seemed entitled and resistant to constructive criticism.
  • She illustrated this with an example of a teammate needing multiple levels of approval to contact some creators.

  • Transition to Musk's Leadership: The process of transitioning to Musk's leadership was challenging.
  • Crawford stated that during the acquisition process, Twitter leadership "hid behind lawyers and legal language."
  • She entered the Musk-led era "cautiously optimistic" but aware that the lack of psychological safety could lead to sudden job loss.
  • Despite the challenges, she tried to spotlight good work and be an emotionally supportive leader in the more brutalist culture.

  • Working with Elon Musk: Crawford shared her observations about Musk's leadership style.
  • Musk could be charming and funny, but his mood swings made it difficult to predict his reactions.
  • He often relied on gut instinct and "random feedback" rather than internal advice, seeking product advice from friends and even his biographer.
  • Despite his inspiring passion and storytelling ability, his lack of process and empathy was challenging.
  • She also commented that Musk seemed lonely and often surrounded by people who agreed with him, leading to an echo chamber effect.

  • Going Viral for Sleeping in the Office: A viral photo of Crawford sleeping in the office surfaced when she and her team were working round the clock to meet a deadline.
  • She was laid off from the company in February, but stated that the photo came about because of her dedication to her team and the project at hand.
  • Crawford stated that the situation was intense but also enjoyable as the team worked together to deliver the project on time.

  • Thoughts on the Future of Twitter/X: Crawford remains optimistic about the future of the company.
  • Despite its challenges, she wouldn't bet against Musk due to his intelligence and financial resources.
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