Elon Musk fires Twitter engineer who publicly argued with him

Twitter engineer found himself locked out of company laptop.

Belmont Lay | November 16, 2022, 12:01 PM

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Elon Musk publicly said on Twitter he fired a veteran Twitter staff who disagreed with him on Twitter about Twitter.

This occurred after Musk and the 41-year-old engineer had a confrontation on the social media platform.

What happened

It started after Musk apologised in a tweet on Sunday, Nov. 13 that the Twitter Android app is “super slow in many countries”, with the suggestion that it was because the app was badly written.

The Twitter engineer, Eric Frohnhoefer, who worked on the app, then quote tweeted Musk’s post, and claimed it was wrong.

Frohnhoefer said he had been working on Twitter’s Android app for around six years and “can say this is wrong”.

He admitted there is “plenty of room for performance improvements on Android”, but he disputed Musk’s diagnosis of the source of the problems with speed.

He said the problems were related to the app being filled with many features that few people use, it has become bloated over time with new improvements, and that the app is slow to communicate with the network.

Frohnhoefer suggested that Twitter would do well to prioritise slimming down the app, deleting old features and avoiding adding too many new ones.

Argument occurred on public platform

The two then continued to argue about the Android app and about Twitter, including a discussion of its lunches.

At one point, Musk asked on Sunday afternoon: “Twitter is super slow on Android. What have you done to fix that?”

Later that day, another Twitter user chimed in on the thread to admonish Frohnhoefer for criticising Musk in public.

Frohnhoefer responded: “Maybe he should ask questions privately. Maybe using Slack or email.”

Twitter users watching the argument unfold warned Frohnhoefer that he was risking his job by publicly correcting Twitter’s new owner.

Firing announced on Twitter

On Monday morning, at 8:01am (Pacific time), a separate Twitter user replied, “with this kind of attitude, you probably don’t want this guy on your team.”

Just one minute later, Musk wrote “he’s fired” and Frohnhoefer responded with a saluting emoji.

Frohnhoefer, 41, was with the company for over eight years, Forbes reported.

He said the end came rather abruptly, right around 1pm (Pacific time) on Monday.

“My laptop just shut off and now I can’t get back into it,” he said.

Musk had by Monday already laid off around half of the company’s workforce.

But it appears that Musk subsequently deleted the tweet about firing the engineer.

Tweet deletion is something he is wont to do.

According to Forbes, the engineer said he had received no formal communications from the company at all about his sudden dismissal.

“Nope, nothing,” he said.

“They’re all a bunch of cowards.”

On Twitter, Frohnhoefer tweeted a photo of his laptop being locked out of the company's system.

What argument touched on

Throughout the disagreement, Frohnhoefer suggested that he had a range of different options if he were to leave Twitter.

He said that his LinkedIn has “never been more popular” and was publicly sent a message by a Reddit developer who suggested that he could work there instead.

Elon Musk has owned Twitter for just over two weeks at this point.

Following the billionaire's takeover of the company, some of Twitter’s most senior executives are said to have resigned, while mass layoffs were instituted almost immediately.

Fired engineer was in camp "wait-and-see"

According to Forbes, Frohnhoefer said he initially did not have a strong opinion of Musk prior to his arrival at Twitter.

The engineer characterised himself as being in the “wait-and-see camp”.

However, that has gone out of the window.

“No one trusts anyone within the company anymore,” he said.

"How can you function? Employees don’t trust the new management. Management doesn't trust the employees. How do you think you’re supposed to get anything done?"

Top photo via Tesla Intelligence YouTube & Unsplash