Why Some Tech CEOs are Rooting for Musk

After a long weekend away, today let’s talk about the largely positive reception that Elon Musk’s radical remaking of Twitter is getting from tech CEOs.

If you’re an executive who has grown increasingly frustrated by the work culture of the past half-decade or so — and of the often skeptical tone of the journalism that has chronicled the tech industry during that time — Musk’s sledgehammer tactics must feel like a balm. These leaders only fantasized about firing their most vocal internal critics; Musk went out and did it. Often without even knowing what job those workers did!

Most CEOs won’t adopt Musk’s tactics outright. But some, like Heinemeier Hansson, will implement smaller-scale versions of it. In important ways, Musk has broadened their sense of what might be possible.

This will be particularly true if Musk’s Twitter succeeds after eliminating the majority of its workforce. As Ben Thompson noted today at Stratechery. “If Twitter can cut their workforce by two thirds (or even more, if you include contractors), then investors will start raising a lot of questions about how many employees other tech companies have, even after the current wave of layoffs. Indeed, you could see PE firms looking to acquire companies, confident they can slash costs to pay off the debt necessary.”

And if it doesn’t work? Musk’s management style seems likely to prove influential anyway. Some tech executives have long sought an excuse to begin unwinding some of the leverage that their workforce gained in the roaring 2010s. As the economy weakens, Musk’s full-throated embrace of austerity measures may have given them one.

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