Today, Musk threatens to gut Twitter’s staff, Spotify has clocked 5.5 million podcasts, and Bannon might actually go to jail.
Report: Elon Musk wants to cut three-quarters of Twitter’s staff
A bombshell report from The Washington Post yesterday revealed that Elon Musk’s pitch to Twitter investors included mass layoffs that would whittle down the company’s staff from 7,500 to 2,000. If the deal goes through this month, which it is supposedly on track for, then cuts are expected to impact employees who work on content moderation and security.
The Post’s report notes that cuts are likely on the way for Twitter regardless of whether Musk goes through with the acquisition — the company was already planning to lay off about a quarter of its staff. But Musk has a particular disdain for content moderation as a concept, and one expert told the Post that users would be at increased risk of hacks and exposure to dangerous content that would otherwise be weeded out.
Following the article from the Post, Bloomberg reported that Musk’s staffing proposal occurred earlier in the year and has not been discussed since the merger agreement was signed. Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett told staffers that “there have been no plans for any companywide layoffs.” Still, that does not preclude the (very likely) possibility that Musk would institute some version of his plan if and when he takes the helm of the company.
It is unclear how such widespread cuts would affect Twitter’s audio business, but it can’t be good. Live audio is particularly tricky to moderate, and with resources spread so thin, I wouldn’t be surprised if that fell down the list of priorities. Plus, Twitter’s podcast feature, which is still in the testing phase, has its own moderation challenges. The current version pulls from all of RSS to create playlists of episodes picked based on a user’s algorithm. Without proper moderation, it’s not unreasonable to expect that users could end up with offensive content in their playlists. That, by the way, is if Twitter decides to go wide with podcasts at all, given the current situation. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
Then there is the issue of how Musk’s plans for Twitter will affect the audio industry from a social standpoint. It is easily the most important forum for industry discourse. If it becomes (more of) a cesspool of hate speech, harassment, and unmitigated offensive content, will that continue to be the case? I hope that does not end up happening, but if so, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to ditch my account.
Musk has not responded to the report, but doesn’t seem terribly concerned about how such cuts would impact Twitter’s workers or users. Opendoor founder JD Ross tweeted today that “WhatsApp had 35 engineers for 450 million users, and grew to a team of 50 for 900 million users. Twitter cutting to 2,000 employees from 7,500 is not a ‘skeleton staff’.” Musk responded with a laugh-cry emoji. Seems like a boss!
Are there now 5.5 million podcasts on Spotify?
A tweet spotted by Podnews screenshotted a Spotify notification that said the platform is now home to 5,523,475 podcasts. If that is true, we will get confirmation next week during Spotify’s third-quarter earnings.
That is a pretty massive jump from Spotify’s last-reported figure of 4.4 million. Plus, Spotify is likely to tout its new audiobook library during next week’s call. But even as it paves the way for more creator content, music is still dominant — experts estimate that 100,000 new tracks are uploaded to Spotify and other music streamers every day.
Even Pinterest is trying to be TikTok
I have only ever used Pinterest to plan my wedding and create a makeover mood board for my husband’s worst friend, but the platform is really leaning into short-form videos. My colleague Mia Sato reported earlier this week that Pinterest has cut deals with music companies like Warner, Merlin, and BMG to enhance the creator experience of Idea Pins, its 60-second video feature.
As platforms attempt to take on TikTok, they are leaning on music libraries to lure creators. In July, Facebook announced that it had established a new bank of licensed tunes from the likes of Post Malone and Tove Lo. Last month, YouTube announced it was trying to move beyond its practice of demonetizing videos featuring music, instead allowing creators of both long and short-form videos to share revenue with music rightsholders.
Steve Bannon is sentenced to four months in prison for defying House subpoena
Can you podcast from jail?
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend.