More on Twitter’s Absurd Headcount

Lots of pushback from readers on my post yesterday on Twitter’s 7,500-employee headcount, and my basic agreement with David Heinemeier Hansson that their soup is spoiled many times over due to far too many chefs. The pushback is primarily along the following line: It’s unfair if not ridiculous to compare Twitter to WhatsApp circa 2014 because WhatsApp is a private messaging service and Twitter is a public microblogging service, and thus Twitter has enormous content-moderation / trust-and-safety problems that WhatsApp didn’t (and doesn’t).

Sure. No one claimed otherwise. No one is arguing that WhatsApp’s 50-employee headcount in 2014 means Twitter only needs 50 employees today. That’s a straw man argument. I’m talking mostly about software engineers and designers. Twitter has thousands of them. Everyone I know who has (or still does) work there has told me the same thing: the company is lousy with do-nothing employees and layers of bureaucracy to support their preposterously high headcount and needless managerial fiefdoms. For the sake of argument, let’s just concede for the moment that every single person currently employed at Twitter working on content moderation is necessary, doing a good job, and ought to be retained. Hell, let’s say they all ought to get a raise. Twitter still has way too many employees in other areas of the company.

Another angle of pushback is that Twitter needs thousands of employees because their business model is different from WhatsApp’s. Twitter’s business model sucks. I mean it doesn’t just suck, it infamously sucks. Twitter arguably has the worst ratio of revenue to user attention of any media company in history. And again, even if I concede that Twitter needs a massive ad sales staff — and I won’t concede that point — that’s irrelevant to their massive engineering and design headcount.

Saturday, 22 October 2022