Former Twitter Blue head sounds off on Elon Musk: “X is run by a mercurial leader”

By 07/27/2023
Former Twitter Blue head sounds off on Elon Musk: “X is run by a mercurial leader”

Elon Musk‘s decision to rebrand Twitter as is drawing some reactions from the company’s former employees. One notable response came from ex-Twitter Blue head Esther Crawford, who discussed her time at the social network in a lengthy post.

Crawford spent two-and-a-half years at Twitter, where she served as the Director of Product Management. She played an integral role in developing Twitter Blue, which Musk retooled and relaunched during his first few months as the self-styled “Chief Twit.” As Crawford’s team worked overtime to meet Musk’s demands, an image of her sleeping in her office went viral. Weeks after that photo was taken, Crawford and much of her team were let go.

That story exemplifies the erratic nature of Elon Musk’s Twitter tenure, but Crawford was quick to remind readers that the company’s pre-Musk culture was far from perfect. In her post, she describes her initial experience at Twitter as “siloed and bureaucratic,” with the platform “held together with duct tape and glue.”


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“Dumb power plays, reorgs, and team name changes for the sake of someone’s ego were distractions that occurred too regularly,” Crawford wrote. She cited former product exec Kayvon Beykpour as “the person who was best at cutting through the BS.” Beykpour left Twitter in 2022.

Musk’s arrival ushered in a new era of distractions. “Twitter moved at the speed of molasses and suffered from bureaucracy but now X is run by a mercurial leader whose instinct is driven by the unique and undoubtedly weird experience of being the biggest voice on the platform,” Crawford wrote.

While working under the former Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Crawford was frustrated by his impulsive nature. “I quickly learned that product and business decisions were nearly always the result of him following his gut instinct, and he didn’t seem compelled to seek out or rely on a lot of data or expertise to inform it,” she wrote. “That was particularly frustrating for me since I believed I had useful institutional knowledge that could help him make better decisions.”

Though Crawford remains “puzzled” by some of Musk’s peculiar business decisions, she also praised his charisma and leadership qualities. “In person Elon is oddly charming and he’s genuinely funny,” she wrote. “I don’t think things had to be as difficult or dramatic as they turned out to be but I can’t say I’d bet against Elon or count him out. He’s smart and has enough money to make a lot of mistakes and then course correct when things go awry.”

Crawford admitted that Musk will eventually need to produce results to justify his acquisition of the-company-formerly-known-as-Twitter. The former Twitter Blue head believes her one-time boss can still complete that turnaround — so long as his own personality doesn’t get in the way. “I learned a ton from watching Elon up close – the good, the bad and the ugly,” Crawford wrote. “His boldness, passion and storytelling is inspiring, but his lack of process and empathy is painful.”

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