Elon Musk says 'crazy' cost cuts have saved Twitter

Billionaire Elon Musk is looking for a new CEO for his troubled social media platform. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO - Elon Musk on Wednesday said that severe cost cuts at Twitter had repaired the company’s dire finances as he set out to find a new chief executive officer for his troubled social media platform.

The mercurial billionaire told a live chat forum that without the changes, including firing over half of Twitter’s employees, the company would have bled US$3 billion (S$4 billion) a year.

“Not good since Twitter has US$1 billion in cash. That’s why I spent the past five weeks cutting costs like crazy,” he told Twitter Spaces, a feature of the platform he bought for US$44 billion.

“If... you’re looking at it from my standpoint... basically, you’re in a plane that is headed towards the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work,” he said.

Just weeks into his ownership of Twitter, Mr Musk fired about half of its 7,500-strong workforce, sparking concern that the company was insufficiently staffed to carry out content moderation and spooking governments and advertisers.

Mr Musk said that his strategy was paying off and that by massively reducing costs and building subscriber revenue, “I now think that Twitter will in fact be OK next year” and break even.

He added that he understood that advertisers were skittish over spending on his platform, but blamed their caution on the souring economic outlook and not worries about content moderation.

He said the new US$8 subscription service called Twitter Blue would help make up the difference.

“Because otherwise, how do we pay the fruggin’ server bill,” Mr Musk said, adding that Twitter’s hardware costs around US$1.5 billion annually.

Mr Musk made the defence of his policies after he tweeted that he was on the hunt for a new CEO “foolish” enough to replace him.

He said he would then limit his duties to running the software and server teams at Twitter.

This followed a Twitter poll in which Mr Musk asked users whether he should stay on as the company’s CEO – 57 per cent of votes said he should step down.

Mr Musk has used the Twitter polls to make other decisions on the platform, including the reinstatement of the account of former US president Donald Trump. AFP

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