‘This is false’: Elon Musk fact-checks NY Times report about him firing Twitter staff to save money

Since completing his $44 billion purchase of Twitter last week, Elon Musk has been the subject of speculation, rumors, and straight-up lies, leaving the billionaire to act as his own fact-checker.

On Sunday, Musk corrected ProPublica and The New York Times, which reported that he will be firing Twitter staffers by November 1 in order to avoid paying them stock grants promised as part of their compensation.

“What a guy,” tweeted ProPublica’s deputy managing editor, Eric Umansky. “@elonmusk is making sure to fire people at Twitter before part of their year-end compensation *kicks in on Tuesday.*”

Attached to his post was an excerpt from a New York Times article that states, “The layoffs at Twitter would take place before a Nov. 1 date when employees were scheduled to receive stack grants as part of their compensation. Such grants typically represent a significant portion of employees’ pay.”

“By laying off workers before that date,” The Times reported, “Mr. Musk may avoid paying the grants.”

As its source, The Times cited investor Ross Gerber, who assisted Musk in financing the Twitter takeover:

Ross Gerber, the chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, said he was told by Jared Birchall, the head of Mr. Musk’s family office, that layoffs were coming at Twitter. “I was told to expect somewhere around 50 percent of people will be laid off,” he said.

 

Musk had a three-word response for Umansky and The Times: “This is false.”

To make his sentiments about The Times crystal clear, Musk issued a second, satirical “fact-check.”

That sweeping changes are coming to Twitter does appear to be true.

As BizPac Review reported, after tweeting “The bird is freed,” the self-described “Chief Twit” immediately showed Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and the head of legal policy, trust, and safety, Vijaya Gadde the door. Also handed a pink slip was Sean Edgett, a general counsel for Twitter, who was reportedly escorted from the building.

On Sunday, Musk suggested that he has plans to prioritize techies over suits as he continues to shake up the staff.

When asked by one Twitter user, “what’s the one thing that’s most messed up at twitter right now?” Musk replied, “There seem to be 10 people ‘managing’ for every one person coding.”

It’s consistent with comments Musk made back in May, weeks after he first made the offer to purchase the platform.

“If Twitter acquisition completes, company will be super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware,” he tweeted.

“I strongly believe that all managers in a technical area must be technically excellent,” he continued. “Managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!”

Meanwhile, folk on Twitter aren’t surprised by The Times’ spread of “fake news.”

“A liberal lying on Twitter?!?!??!” exclaimed one user. “No!!! I’m blown away right now.”

“But but but…the @nyt said so!!!” tweeted the Chicks on the Right.

“Dear journalists. …” implored a third. “STOP MAKING SH*T UP.”

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Melissa Fine

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