David Heinemeier Hansson

October 21, 2022

Need it take 7,500 people to run Twitter?

When WhatsApp was sold to Facebook in 2014, it had almost half a billion monthly users, but a team of just 50 people running everything. Compare this to Twitter, which today has a staff of 7,500 to manage half the number of users. Yet Musk is the crazy one here for suggesting that maybe Twitter could operate with a mere TWO THOUSAND employees? Please.

I don't often agree with Zuckerberg, but his description of Twitter as a "clown car that fell into a gold mine" was spot on. Except with 7,500 people, I guess it's more like a clown town that just happened to be founded on a gold mine, yet somehow still manages to turn gold into lead. Last year, Twitter lost well over two hundred million dollars.

What's worse is that this clown town could hardly be worse run than it currently is. If there's one thing everyone seems to agree on, it's that Twitter in its current form is an absolute dumpster fire. One that the more than seven thousand employees  still haven't managed to put out after years and years of trying almost nothing.

Shareholders and employees should be grateful that Mr Musk made his historically ill-timed offer to buy the business for more than double what Zuckerberg paid for WhatsApp. It's a bailout for the ages.

Twitter needs a fundamental rethink. More of the same from many of the same will give you exactly what you got: shockingly little.

Yet much of the coverage of this plan is focused with hysterical intensity on the dangers of not doing more of the same. The problem with the thousands and thousands of people smashing those block buttons for spam, ideological transgressions, or whatever else gets you banned from the platform these days, is that there aren't enough of them and that they aren't smashing harder! Because otherwise this dystopian dumpster fire would surely become uninhabitable!

Does any of this mean that Musk will actually be able to fix Twitter? Of course not. It's entirely possible that Twitter is unfixable. But the least controversial attempt to at least try is to radically reimagine how the service is operated and by whom.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.