Jack Dorsey apologizes for Twitter growth after Elon Musk bought company

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One day after new owner and chief executive Elon Musk began reducing Twitter’s workforce by an estimated 50 percent, co-founder Jack Dorsey is apologizing for the situation that led to mass layoffs and said he is to blame for growing the company “too quickly.”

“I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation,” Dorsey tweeted Saturday.

The layoffs appear to have cut across the entire company of 7,500 workers, devastating or in some cases wiping out the teams responsible for human rights, security, curation and engineering. Amid Friday’s chaotic mass layoff, the platform was heavy with tweets from newly pink-slipped employees — some of whom said they learned their fate the night before because their email log-ins no longer worked.

Employees tweeted notes of sadness, gratitude and shock, with many using the hashtag #lovewhereyouworked, a riff on the company’s unofficial motto “Love where you work.” Another hashtag, #TwitterLayoffs, quickly became the top of trends in the United States on Friday.

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Dorsey’s mea culpa comes at a critical juncture for the company, which is one week into a turbulent new era under Musk’s leadership that kicked off with him firing the executive leadership, including the chief executive, Parag Agrawal. Advertisers and users wary of Musk’s plans are fleeing the platform, which is under new pressure to grow revenue.

In response, Musk has floated ideas that include making users pay for the badges that identify them as a verified account. Musk has also expressed a vision of “free speech” on the platform that has civil rights groups and information experts worried that the platform will become a haven for hate speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Musk used his own Twitter account to amplify a conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to his more than 113 million followers. He later withdrew the tweet.

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Dorsey, who at times had his own freewheeling approach to leadership, abruptly stepped down as CEO last November. It was the second time Dorsey exited Twitter’s C-suite: the first was in 2008, when he was fired as CEO two years after co-founding the microblogging site. He was rehired in 2015.

Even before Dorsey’s second run as CEO, Twitter struggled to make money or close the user and revenue gap with more globally popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. But despite its comparatively smaller user base, its core of elite users across industries like sports, entertainment, politics and journalism made it a highly visible place to make and break news.

During much of Dorsey’s time at Twitter’s helm, he faced questions about transparency and how the company promoted or suppressed information, including political messaging; Twitter became a frequent target of conservative criticism during the Trump era when former president Donald Trump and his supporters accused “Big Tech” like Twitter of censoring conservative voices — despite research showing that Twitter algorithms amplified conservative content over that of the political left.

As with Saturday’s apology, Dorsey has often mused on his regrets and mistakes via Twitter: Earlier this year he indicated that shutting down the beloved video clip platform, Vine, was his “biggest mistake” and said he feels guilty about his role in building Twitter into one of the major hubs of a centralized internet.

“[C]entralizing discovery and identity into corporations really damaged the internet. I realize I’m partially to blame, and regret it,” he tweeted in April.

But the biggest criticism of Dorsey near the end of his run came from other board members who were concerned he was too distracted by plans to travel the world, move to Africa and most significantly, serving simultaneously as CEO for Twitter and Square, the online payment system that last year rebranded as Block; he remains head of the latter.

After Twitter’s $44 billion sale to Musk this fall, Dorsey retained a 2.4 percent share in Twitter, according to an October filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission

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