Elon Musk loses cool with ex-Twitter employee during Spaces chat

Twitter CEO Elon Musk blasted a former software engineer for the company as a “jackass” during a heated spat over the mogul’s push to revamp the embattled social media app.

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

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

“Wait, seriously, a total rewrite? That’s your prediction for velocity?” Mr Brown said.

“Yeah,” Mr Musk responded.

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

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

Mr Musk replied that “you either needed to amend the crazy stack that exists or rewrite it.”

Brown chimed in once again, grilling Mr Musk over what he actually meant and whether he could “break it down.”

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

“What do you mean who am I? I don’t know! You gave me the f — ing mic!” Mr Brown said.

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

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

“What is the stack, Elon? Take me from top to bottom. What does the stack look like right now? What’s so crazy about it? What is so abnormal about this stack versus every other large-scale system on the planet, buddy? C’mon!”

“Amazing! You’re a jackass!” Mr Musk replied.

“Haha, ok! I got no credibility here, buddy,” Mr Brown shot back.

Mr Hotz then muted Mr Brown.

“Good! What a moron,” Mr Musk said.

Mr Musk, who fired his media relations staff upon taking control of Twitter following his $US44 billion ($A65.96 billion) acquisition in late October, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The spat came a day after Mr Musk said he laid off half of Twitter’s staff and slashed costs in order to save the company from a $US3 billion ($A4.5 billion) hole in its budget.

“That is why I spent the last five weeks cutting costs like crazy,” Mr Musk told Twitter users who tuned in to a Twitter Spaces voice chat on Tuesday night.

“This company is like, basically, you are in a plane that is headed toward the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.”

Mr Musk completed his $US44 billion ($A65.96 billion) acquisition of Twitter in late October with the help of $US13 billion ($A19.49 billion) of debt. The Twitter boss is on the hook for interest repayments of around $US1.5 ($A2.25 billion) billion a year.

“If you didn’t make any changes” Twitter’s net cash outflow would have been as much as $US6.5 billion ($A9.74 billion) next year, Mr Musk said.

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

Mr Musk pledged to abide by the results of a Twitter poll asking his more than 122 million followers whether he should continue as CEO. Nearly 58 per cent of the 17 million who responded had voted for Mr Musk to resign.

This post originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission

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