Free the Flock!
“The bird is freed,” claimed Elon Musk as he completed the $44 billion takeover of Twitter on the 27th of October.
Ever since Musk announced his intention to buy the firm back in April of this year, there has been quite a significant outcry and a sense of alarm around his intentions to deregulate the platform and reinstate accounts such as former President Donald Trump, which have been banned by the current Twitter regime. This concern is not without foundation. Racial slurs such as the “N word”, increased by 500% in the first 12 hours after the bold Elon took over.
Musk describes himself as “a free-speech absolutist”, but as he was reminded by the EU Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, “The bird will fly by our rules!” Breton was referring to a new Digital Services Act that will be part of future EU legislation.
I’ve tended to view Elon Musk with a strange mixture of fascination and even a degree of admiration. I’ll give him a lot of credit for his vision for Tesla, for disrupting the automobile industry and for catalysing its transition towards electric vehicles. Do we really think that the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes would have been moving quite as quickly if they hadn’t been watching their lunch being rapidly eaten by the slick, fast and desirable Tesla? Not a chance. We need a similar visionary to light a fire under the backsides of Big Oil and Big Tobacco to industry to rapidly accelerate their claimed transitions towards clean energy and tobacco free products respectively.
However, the Twitter takeover does give me cause for concern and I wonder whether Elon may in fact be losing the plot a little?
My concerns, and those of other commentators, probably pale away into insignificance compared to Twitter’s 7,500 current employees, up to 50% of whom are now likely to lose their jobs. And many even found themselves locked out the company’s system on Friday. It makes you wonder what all these people were actually doing all this time if the firm can survive with half the staff. But no firm can survive without any staff. Employees are an extremely important stakeholder group who should not be overlooked as Musk prepares his plans for the new look Twitter.
The bird may have been freed; but birds fly in flocks. One of the main reasons for doing so is to protect them from predators. I wonder what the remaining 50% of Twitter’s workforce might be able to do, collectively, to protect themselves from this predatory takeover?
I’ve written in the past on several occasions about the latent power of employee activism (which has its roots in Silicon Valley), to drive positive change in large organisations. Remember the Google strikes or Microsoft employees rebelling against their software platform being used by US Immigration to separate Mexican kids from their parents?
Could we see some kind of collective action where Twitter employees make their own views very clear to Elon Musk, holding the large baton of potential white collar strike action behind their backs?
It’s fair to say that Musk has apparently stepped back from his “free-speech absolutist” position in recent days, by proposing a Content Moderation Council of widely diverse viewpoints to make decisions on how far free speech can be extended and whose accounts should be reinstated. This will reassure some, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them.
Musk is not one for taking advice from anyone. But for what it’s worth, my suggestion would be that Twitter employees as a stakeholder group, what’s left of them, will be an extremely important voice to include on this council.
If he ignores them, Musk may find his wings are severely clipped.
I’m looking forward to having a fabulous and diverse group of people joining our next Decelerator Lab on Bute next week. Good weather is far from guaranteed during November in Scotland, however we have a great schedule of activities planned both indoors and out and whatever the weather, they’re all sure to get a very warm welcome on the Island.
In the past two weeks I’ve been busy developing a significant grant application to build a couple of prototype eco-pods using local timber and to train two apprentices within the local community, who would enable our scale up to something more akin to a village of pods. We’ll know next week if we’ve been successful, so watch this space!
Best of the rest……
I hope that many of you were able to join Global Intrapreneurship Week at the beginning of October and specifically attend the session that launched the Up Link Intrapreneur Challenge. There have already been dozens of applications made, however the deadline has been extended to the end of November to allow more time for applications. For all you intrapreneurs out there who are working on exciting early-stage initiatives in your organisations, I strongly suggest you get your applications in. I will probably be involved in the review process, but am not open to bribery.
November was also a month of many virtual sessions with for-profit and non-profit organisations and it’s amazing to see how well these events are received and clearly such a refreshing change to your average Zoom meeting.
On the personal front…….
I drove from Geneva to the Bute during early October and took the opportunity to stop off for a couple of days in London and in Frome in Somerset on the way.
In Frome we were able to have a team gathering as that’s where many of our team are based, but it was also an opportunity for me to see nearby Stonehenge for the very first time. Remarkable place!
OK, that’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.