Elon Musk loses his temper with former Twitter employee during Spaces chat

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Twitter CEO Elon Musk slammed a former software engineer at the company as an “idiot” during a heated exchange over the tycoon’s effort to revamp the struggling social media app.

Musk said Twitter would have to do a “total rewrite of everything” if it wanted to go “really high velocity” during a Twitter Spaces voice chat hosted by George Hotz on Wednesday.

The remark prompted a response from Ian Brown, a Netflix developer who worked at Twitter for eight years before leaving the company in October 2021.

“Wait, seriously, a total rewrite? Is that your speed prediction? Brown said.

“Yes,” Musk replied.

“Well, when you say a complete rewrite, do you mean starting with the bare bones?” asked Hotz, a well-known hacker who resigned from Twitter earlier in the day. “Or a group of engineers sit down with a whiteboard and say, ‘What is Twitter?’ Revolution or reform?”

Elon Musk attacked Ian Brown, a software engineer at Netflix, who criticized his development proposals for Twitter.
AFP via Getty Images

Brown responded with a “giggling hysterically” emoji, which briefly appeared on his avatar as part of the feature that allows Twitter Space participants to express themselves while someone else is speaking.

Musk replied that “you needed to fix the crazy pile that exists or rewrite it”.

Brown chimed in once more, quizzing Musk on what he really meant and whether he could “unravel it.”

“Who are you?!” asked an agitated Musk.

“What do you mean who am I? I don’t know! You gave me the fucking microphone! Brown said.

Hotz then intervened, noting that he allowed Brown the opportunity to speak and asked that the conversation be “more civil”.

Brown, a former Twitter software engineer, criticized Musk's plan to rewrite Twitter's code.
Brown, a former Twitter software engineer, criticized Musk’s plan to rewrite Twitter’s code.

“I mean, man, you’re in charge of the servers and the programming and everything,” Brown continued.

“What’s the stack, Elon? Take me from top to bottom. How is the stack now? What’s so crazy about it? What’s so abnormal about this pile relative to every other large-scale system on the planet, friend? Come on!”

“Amazing! You are an idiot! Musk replied.

“Haha ok! I have no credibility here, friend”, Brown countered.

Hotz then silences Brown.

“Good! What an idiot,” Musk said.

Musk laid off more than half of the company's software engineers after taking over Twitter in late October.
Musk laid off more than half of the company’s software engineers after taking over Twitter in late October.

The Post asked Brown for comment. Musk, who fired his media relations team when he took over Twitter following its $44 billion acquisition in late October, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The spat came a day after Musk said he had laid off half of Twitter’s staff and cut costs to save the company from a $3 billion hole in its budget.

“This is why I’ve spent the last five weeks cutting costs like crazy,” Musk told Twitter users who tuned into a Twitter Spaces voice chat late on Tuesday.

“This company is like, basically, you’re on a plane that’s going towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.”

Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in late October with the help of $13 billion in debt. The head of Twitter is on the hook for interest payments of around $1.5 billion a year.

Musk criticized Brown as a
Musk has criticized Brown as a “jerk” and an “idiot”.

“If you didn’t make any changes,” Twitter’s net cash outflow would have reached $6.5 billion next year, Musk said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Musk announced that he would eventually step down as CEO of Twitter as soon as “someone foolish enough” could be found to succeed him.

Musk has pledged to abide by the results of a Twitter poll asking his more than 122 million followers whether he should stay on as CEO. Nearly 58% of the 17 million who responded voted for Musk’s resignation.