Elon Musk Backtracks After Learning New Information About Employee He Mocked
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 24: Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on January 24, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Musk testified at a trial regarding a lawsuit that has investors suing Tesla and Musk over his August 2018 tweets saying he was taking Tesla private with funding that he had secured. The tweet was found to be false and cost shareholders billions of dollars when Tesla's stock price began to fluctuate wildly allegedly based on the tweet.
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Twitter CEO Elon Musk reversed course after mocking an employee on the platform this week upon receiving new information about the situation.

Musk mocked Haraldur Thorleifsson on the platform after Thorleifsson called him out publicly, saying that his access to his work resources had been cut off and that he had no idea if he was still working for the company.

After an exchange of back-and-forth tweets, someone who allegedly knew the employee tweeted to Musk: “As someone who has worked directly with @iamharaldur during a turnaround, this is super disappointing to see. Not only is his work ethic next level, his talent and humility are world class. Exactly the kind of person you want on your team when the odds are stacked. I feel certain there’s a deep misunderstanding somewhere in here of ‘did no actual work’.”

“Based on your comment, I just did a videocall with Halli to figure out what’s real vs what I was told. It’s a long story. Better to talk to people than communicate via tweet,” Musk responded. “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful. He is considering remaining at Twitter.”

The exchange between Musk and the employee started when the employee tagged Musk in a tweet, writing: “9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees.”

“However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not,” Thorleifsson said. “You’ve not answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?”

“What work have you been doing?” Musk asked.

“I would need to break confidentiality to answer this question here,” Thorleifsson responded. “If you have your lawyers share in writing that I can do that then I’d be happy to discuss that openly!”

“It’s approved, you go ahead,” Musk responded.


Thorleifsson responded by rattling off a list of things he claimed that he accomplished, including:

  • Led the effort to save about $500k on one SaaS contract. Supported closing down many others
  • Led prioritization of design projects across the company to make sure we were able to deliver with a small team
  • Led design crits to help level up design across the company
  • Was hiring manager for all design roles
  • Worked on efforts to steer the company away from focusing on power users and on to younger users (because our user base is aging)

Thorleifsson then continued by saying that the head of human resources “just miraculously” replied to him and confirmed “that I no longer work at Twitter!!”

Musk responded to his list of claims by asking questions and suggesting that some of his assertions were false.

“Which SaaS contract exactly?” Musk asked. “Prioritization of what design projects?”

“Level up from what design to what?” Musk asked. “Pics or it didn’t happen.”

“We haven’t hired design roles in 4 months,” he continued. “What changes did you make to help with the youths?”

Musk then tweeted out a clip from “Office Space” where an employee is asked what he actually does for the company and proceeds to have a meltdown.

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm,” Musk said. “Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.”

“He has a prominent, active Twitter account and is wealthy. The reason he confronted me in public was to get a big payout,” Musk continued. “From what I’ve been told, he’s done almost no work for the past four months, middle-management or otherwise. Despite his claims on Twitter that he did work, it turns out he told HR that he couldn’t work because he couldn’t type, but was, over the same period, typing up a storm on Twitter. Yet there are many people on Twitter defending him. This hurts my faith in humanity.”

“But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place!” he added.

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