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Alexis Ohanian in Heaven, Elon Musk in Hell

Hi, welcome to your Weekend!

Last week, we generously offered our readers a 100% Elon Musk-free newsletter. I got a few thank you notes for that. Now I’m sorry to inform you the moratorium’s over. 

Yesterday was the Massacre on Market Street. The day when Elon Musk unceremoniously axed thousands of Twitter employees, all while the world watched the sad drama unfold on (where else) Twitter. It’s become clear to anyone not high on Elon’s supply that Musk may have colossally botched this acquisition. Because the price he paid was so steep, Musk has to keep the existing revenue engines cranked to 11—and then crank them up 11 notches more.

The problem? Current advertisers clearly aren’t buying Musk’s free-speech shtick. The blue-checkmark crowd—ie, the 420,000-plus people who are among the service’s most dedicated power users—are in full revolt. And with fewer and fewer engineers, content moderators and product managers on hand to troubleshoot issues, the service is likely about to become glitchier, spammier and probably nastier—at least in the short term. 

It’s enough to make you wonder: Will Twitter actually survive the Elon takeover? Because once the advertising dominos start to fall and the assumptions about subscription revenues start to wobble, what’s left for Musk to lean on? 

We can’t write its obituary yet, but Twitter has now publicly smashed into a plate glass window. It’s going to take a lot for it to fly again. 

Now onto this week’s stories...

the big read

Ohanian in Paradise: Still Nursing Old Wounds, the Former Reddit Founder Chases a New Legacy

In this week’s cover story, Abe visits Alexis Ohanian at The Farm, the Florida estate filled with chickens, dogs and sprawling plant life (and, of course, a tennis court for wife Serena Williams). From this patch of personal paradise, Ohanian has been mounting a high-stakes redemption bid, as he tries to put some of the unpleasantness from Reddit behind him. Behind Ohanian’s effort is a desire for autonomy, he told Abe: “I don’t want to ever again feel like I’m one vote out of five on a thing that I created.”

department of musk studies

Elon Musk’s Meme-Spreading, Critic-Blocking, Ego-Inflating Twitter Feed by the Numbers

In an effort to understand the fragile psyche of Twitter’s new CEO, Arielle, Annie and Margaux poured over data, consulted with social media analytics companies, and in a true act of journalistic sadism, created a mock feed of the 127 accounts that Musk personally follows. Their findings shed new light on how the eccentric billionaire uses the bird app—and on how his feed might impact your own.

high rolling

Could Gambling on Elections Be ‘Bigger Than Sports Betting’? A Trading Startup Shoots Its Shot

By injecting themselves into the center of an arcane, decades-old Washington debate about the legality of political trading, Tarek Mansour and Luana Lopes Lara may have bitten off more bureaucracy than they bargained for. But they’ve also got a lot of muscle behind them. Their four-year-old startup Kalshi has secured $30 million in backing and vocal support from the likes of Sequoia Capital, Sam Altman, Ron Conway and Dustin Moscovitz. Reporter Nancy Scola dives into Kalshi’s efforts to unlock a potentially trillion-dollar market.


Screentime: The Millennial Tech Founder Who Wonders If She’s Too Old for TikTok

Kathryn Minshew, founder of online jobs marketplace The Muse, has been on a nationwide tour for the past month. Much of the travel had to do with her company’s recent acquisition of Fairygodboss, a career community for women. The rest has been just for fun. Here, she unlocks her phone and takes us along for the ride.

Watching: Yet another tech docu-drama (but its great!)
Wait, another prestige drama about a tech company? You’ve seen “The Dropout” (Theranos), “Super Pumped” (Uber) and “WeCrashed” (WeWork). Do you really need to see one more? The answer, I’d argue, is yes—grab a bowl of popcorn and turn on “The Playlist,” the new Swedish-produced Netflix drama about Spotify. The series follows Daniel Ek, the young Swedish coder who sets out to change music streaming forever. The screenplay is based on the 2021 book “Spotify Untold,” and packs in all manner of delightful details about the early days of the company. (Edvin Endre, who plays Ek, shaved half of his head to approximate Ek’s hairline.) It also reveals Ek’s driving motivation to prove himself and his company, despite not hailing from Silicon Valley. The show, in a way, makes a similar point: Filmed in Stockholm and performed entirely in Swedish, it proves that great TV tech dramas don’t have to come out of California. —Arielle

Reading: A deep dive into VCs push for maternity leave 
In the investing world, taking a week off can mean missing the deal of the decade—making a months-long maternity leave almost impossible. For Business Insider, Melia Russell and Madeline Renbarger interviewed a dozen female investors about how they handled the months after giving birth, highlighting how ill-equipped the venture world still is to support mothers. Some firms, like SemperVirens, had no maternity policy at all until their first female founder got pregnant. The situation is slowly improving: several firms have added benefits like breast-milk delivery and fertility assistance. But even still, many women said they felt pressure to continue taking calls and meetings in the weeks after giving birth, often while still cradling their newborns. —Margaux

Noticing: A glimpse of #sleepwhereyouwork Twitter 
Amid the Musky chaos at Twitter, Esther Crawford, a product management director, retweeted a picture of herself asleep at the office—eye mask on, REI sleeping bag and foam mattress pad rolled out—as she and other Tweeps contended with pressing deadlines. (To better understand why Musk has his new employees working around the clock, I recommend this clear-eyed distillation of Twitter’s grim reality by a former top executive at advertising giant WPP.) Crawford obviously saw the photo as a badge of honor, a marker of her dedication to her job and company. But many others on Twitter looked on in horror, offering a reminder of how far we’ve come from tech’s salad days of catered lunches and free laundry.  —Abe

Makes You Think

The new rules of Twitter. 

Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.


Weekend Editor, The Information

Jon Steinberg is the Weekend Editor at The Information. He is a former editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine and senior editor at New York magazine, where his work won many National Magazine Awards.
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