Esther Crawford, the former head of Twitter Blue, recently penned a comprehensive note about her experience at X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.
In her candid post, she delved into the challenges of working under Elon Musk and the contrasting management styles of the old and new regimes.
Upon joining Twitter in 2020 following the acquisition of her social startup Squad, Crawford found the old management to be bureaucratic, requiring a political approach to get things done.
Like seemingly everyone on this app I have plenty of opinions about Twitter > X and figure now is a good time to open up a bit about my experience at the company.
I tweeted for years into the void for the love of it like many of you, but after selling my startup to Twitter in… pic.twitter.com/bw7CHhk0Xg
— Esther Crawford ✨ (@esthercrawford) July 26, 2023
The prevailing culture felt soft and entitled, with healthy debate and criticism replaced by a default refusal to consider new ideas or initiatives.
Crawford recounted an incident where a teammate had to navigate multiple levels of approval just to contact certain creators, causing burnout among team members.
During the time when Twitter awaited the Musk acquisition deal, the company leadership resorted to hiding behind legal struggles when addressing concerns about the platform’s future.
Having experienced the transition to Musk’s leadership, Crawford expressed cautious optimism about the changes. She recognized that Musk’s decision-making could be a mix of brilliance and impulsiveness.
However, she also noted the lack of psychological safety at Twitter 2.0, leading to employees living in fear of arbitrary firings. Despite this, Crawford endeavored to support her team emotionally and acknowledge their important contributions.
Describing her encounters with Musk, Crawford mentioned his charm and humor but also revealed his unpredictable mood swings, which made employees hesitant to share negative news.
She noticed that Musk often relied on gut instinct or random feedback from outsiders rather than trusting internal expertise. His passion and storytelling were inspiring, but his lack of process and empathy posed challenges.
Crawford pointed out that Musk’s intense work ethic and the echo chamber of yes-men surrounding him made him seem lonely. To maintain a balanced perspective, she advocated for having “better angels” in the form of family, friends, and honest teammates.
Addressing the viral incident of her sleeping in the office, Crawford clarified that it occurred during a period of relentless work to meet a demanding deadline. She and her team pulled through and successfully delivered the project on time, despite the intensity.
Regarding the current situation at Twitter/X, Crawford expressed confidence in Musk’s intelligence and substantial resources, acknowledging his capacity to learn from mistakes.