TWiT 902: May Contain Nuts

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

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“About half of Americans are filled with hate.” :astonished:

Half the world hates
What half the world does every day
Half the world waits
While half gets on with it anyway

Half the world lives
Half the world makes
Half the world gives
While the other half takes

Half the world is
Half the world was
Half the world thinks
While the other half does

Half the world talks
With half a mind on what they say
Half the world walks
With half a mind to run away

Half the world lies
Half the world learns
Half the world flies
As half the world turns

Half the world cries
Half the world laughs
Half the world tries
To be the other half

Half of us divided
Like a torn-up photograph (torn up photograph)
Half of us are trying
To reach the other half

To reach the other half

Half the world cares
While half the world is wasting the day
Half the world shares
While half the world is stealing away

Song by Rush, lyrics by Neil Peart

Half the World Hates


The panel kept saying, Musk makes cars, he makes spaceships, so Twitter shouldn’t be that hard. You are forgetting HE doesn’t make cars, HE doesn’t make spaceships, he owns companies full of engineers who do that… and he has sacked a vast majority of the engineers at Twitter.


I have mixed feelings about this episode primarily because of how it has left me feeling.

On Twitter:

Phil seemed to be somewhat compromised through his connections to many of the characters under discussion and he was clearly unable to note anything negative with regards to Elon which led me to feel that many of his points were bordering on being intellectually dishonest.

For example, one of the counterfactuals raised was the possibility that we might still be observing the dumpster fire now underway even if Elon had NOT made any changes. This strains credulity to put it mildly. A now very popular, (and I assume at face value to be accurate) Tweet about why a major advertiser paused Twitter spending is a case in point:

Clearly advertisers’ concerns aren’t just the hate speech and inappropriate content now proliferating on the site but the fact that all their account managers and contact points at Twitter have disappeared without a trace leaving advertisers hanging in the wind whilst their brand reputations are being tarnished. I find it hard to believe this type of situation would be occurring had Elon not made any changes (i.e., Phil’s repeated contention).

On Fraud:

I found the discussion on sentencing for fraud a tad superficial but more worryingly there was a sense from the panel that Holmes was somehow different from Madoff because she dreamed of changing the world with a revolutionary idea. Perhaps she’s just the innocent by-product of the “fake it till you make it” culture. Sorry, but this doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It was premeditated fraud plain and simple and the only good thing about the whole mess is that thank goodness no-one lost their lives (that we know of) because of faulty, fraudulent tests.

However, Phil’s honesty here about his near-miss investment decision in Theranos was robust and perhaps a poignant reminder not to invest in things that you don’t fully understand, even if the founder is charismatic, and especially when you are experiencing intense FOMO.

On FTX and Crypto:

You may have seen the video from a VC partner who was pitched by SBF who then sent through conditions that they would need to see a governance board and various financial controls be put in place before they could invest. SBF called them up to say, no joke, “F YOU”.

Why is the industry enabling this kind of behaviour? What has gone wrong that you can play video games whilst pitching to Sequoia; describe your business as a literal Ponzi scheme on a prominent podcast; have little to no experience in the domain in question*; and swear at an investor in the rudest possible manner and the market is still going wild to try and throw money at you. This is honestly a travesty of our own making.

*I am aware that SBF and his alleged co-conspirators worked at Jane Street and Credit Suisse but from what’s being reported none were in roles for sufficient time to have moved beyond having responsibility for the coffee run let alone knowing anything about risk management, compliance systems, custodial, financial controls, accounting systems, liquidity management, counterparty contracts, or any of the other hundred or so systems actual exchanges need to have in place.


Agree…could say more, but :zipper_mouth_face: don’t want to get in trouble

In other news…it’s being reported that the three biggest Twitter hashtags used for child sex crimes have been cleaned up or shut down. Not Elon’s doing since he’s not an engineer.[sarcasm] Why wasn’t this done a long time ago? [not sarcasm] What does Larry Magid think?

I’m still seeing ads in my feed about every four tweets. And they look like Instagram ads…the ones you watch…and almost buy. :slight_smile: Unless you’re Leo. :laughing:

And Twitter is really doomed now…Phil Schiller deleted his account.

Disclosure: I’m not an Elon or Twitter fan. If they both disappeared tomorrow I wouldn’t care. So don’t accuse me of defending his actions. I am entertained by the reaction to what is going on.

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Phil really does come across as an Elon-apologist. And regardless of whether Elon has put rockets into space or if he’s a genius - he’s a jerk. I do not care anyone whether someone is a genius or visionary or whatever - I care what kind of person they are. The way in which he has treated the workers at Twitter is nothing short of horrible. I don’t care what rises from ashes of this wannabe phoenix - he could have handled the staffing changes in a way that didn’t resemble The Hunger Games. He chose otherwise.


Thank you totoro for expressing this so well. I felt that this was a really good panel but that some opinions were well off-center. In particular, the discussion of Holmes’ sentence. According to Carreyrou’s fine book, Theranos executives knew that the company gave false medical test results to physicians. This is beyond reprehensible. The sentence is deserved for this alone regardless of whether it was actually a financial fraud prosecution. Further, to raise the concern that other, worse, offenders are often not prosecuted is entirely irrelevant. No court would dismiss a criminal charge simply because similar crimes are unsolved.

The parallels between Musk’s management of Twitter and his management of Spacex and Tesla also were off-kilter. If Musk fired half the engineering staff of either of these companies maybe the next few rocket launches and vehicles off the assembly line would be fine but how long would customers trust that to last?


Great comments all. Thanks! Elon gets SO much negativity on all our shows that I wasn’t too worried about a contrarian view point. Phil has standing here - more than any journalist.

As for Holmes - agreed. All of us felt conflicted. No one said it was too harsh. I think those were honest reactions.

In any event, that’s the point of the show: to stimulate thought and discussion. Mission accomplished!


There’s at least four segments to Twitter: ad sales, moderation, datacenter operations and developers.

For the most part, code doesn’t rot. Even if Twitter laid off their entire iOS team, it would have no immediate impact on users. The app would keep working exactly as it is, indefinitely. That lasts as long as neither Apple nor the Twitter backend team break something. A few weeks of chaos won’t affect the apps in any meaningful way.

I have no experience in datacenter operations, but I will send some kudos to the former management team for building something that apparently wasn’t as fragile as it once was (in the “fail whale” days). As far as I could tell, there has been no degradation in service even with the layoffs.

Moderation is unclear. I’m not even sure if the Twitter trust and safety staff washandled in house or if it was contracted out to the developing world, i.e. whether the entry level staff making the day to day moderation decisions were affected by the recent twitter RIFs.

Turnover in sales roles is always a problem. I would wager Elon’s thinking is to eliminate sales representatives and go totally programmatic, so ripping the band aid off is probably smart.

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Except that the code is constantly evolving, there are bugs, especially security bugs, that need fixing on a regular basis and then there are all the new features, such as the changes to Twitter Blue, that Elno is pushing out, someone has to code those, as well as ensuring the code base is secure and as bug free as possible - in most big projects, there are usually hundreds, if not thousands of outstanding bug tickets that need to be worked through.

If a critical security flaw is found in the code, it doesn’t have a few weeks to get a new team in to look at it and patch, that needs to be rolled out in hours, not weeks.

It is more stable than it once was, but from reports, it sounds like it is still held together with chicken wire and string. If something goes offline, you need to ensure everything is restarted in exactly the correct order. If the team you had who was responsible for that is gone, you have to hope they documented it properly and that it works without any errors…

E.g. we had a procedure for setting up a new system. We had an apprentice in his 2nd year of training. He was given a system, installation media and a list of instructions. Setting up a new system was something that would take an experienced operator about 4 hours. After 4 hours, when the manager had time to look over his shoulder, the apprentice was still at it, he hadn’t asked for help, but… The system had hung on step 4 or 40, so he restarted at step 1, got to step 4, restarted at step 1, got to step 4… He never looked to solve the problem, never questioned if the documentation was wrong (it wasn’t, but one of the drivers was corrupted, so he needed to download a new from the fileserver), he didn’t look up the error online, he didn’t ask for help.

If you have someone new to the role, who has never done it before and follows the instructions, no matter how good those instructions are, if there is an unexpected error somewhere in the chain, you need to have a good knowledge of the system to be able to examine it, analyze the cause and work out a solution.

A lot of it was handled in house, some was handled by agencies in-country (very important). And it seems like a majority of that team, especially senior management were sacked or walked. This has grave legal ramifications, in countries like Germany, which have very strict laws on hate speech (has to be removed within a couple of hours of it being posted), the same for holocaust denial, anti-semitism, especially, and racism in general. If the team that did that has gone and nobody is doing anything about blocking such content in Germany, Twitter could be face very large fines on a daily basis before long.

Except that the advertisers had account managers, who they could talk to, now they have no one to discuss their issues with, organize volume discounts etc. Pushing high profile advertisers from a personal contact who took care of any issues to a purely programmatic interface is going to push them away from your platform.

Even if that is the long-term goal, you don’t punch your best paying customers in the face as you come through the door!


What about the ops side though? Every system I’ve been involved in has needed some manual intervention to keep it running, even if in a change freeze. Purging files, certs and licences that expire, capacity management, those known errors with manual workarounds, bad data you didn’t catch, security patching, backups etc.


I’d say that, the code may be fine today, and in a steady-state universe where nothing changes, the current Twitter code would be fine. However, we are not in a steady-state universe, and the platform that Twitter runs on (that is the Twitter code too, not just the mobile apps) is constantly changing. A deprecated API here, and another one there, and the whole thing can come tumbling down if nothing is updated - look at the 32-bit apps that no longer run in a modern 64-bit environment.


The iOS universe is pretty darn close to a steady state universe. The Twitter universe (i.e. the APIs) can be as close to a steady state as Elon wants to make it.

I really, really doubt Elon has given German law one second’s thought.

Glen asked “Where did the FTX money go?” Real Estate in the Bahamas and lots of political donations:

Political Contributions Every organization and person should have to give this money back.

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Unfortunately, German law doesn’t care whether Elon has thought about it or not, Twitter has well defined laws it has to follow and in the past, the team have been active to ensure they stay within the law, as best they can. If he has fired the team, it could quickly be more expensive than having kept them…


Interesting article suggested by @vdpollm:

It kind of makes Phil Libin’s case. It’s not going to be easy, but maybe it’s the only way.

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That’s a fascinating take on the situation.

I wouldn’t personally go so far as to say it proves Phil’s case but it does provide a counter to the commonly held opinion that there’s no absolutely no method to the madness.

With this line of thinking one can see the bankruptcy in a completely different light. Perhaps it is the rational move to level the company, file for chapter 11, restructure the debt at a fraction of face value, and then build a new business free of constraints either technological, cultural, or financial.

No matter what Elon’s plan is or isn’t this remains the greatest show on Earth right now. Despite having little to no use for Twitter myself I simply cannot look away.

Couldn’t he have done all that for a fraction of the cost, as a new startup?

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That’s the multi-billion dollar question isn’t it @big_D - what actually did he buy that couldn’t have been recreated cheaper from scratch?

Thinking back to the show, @Leo proposed what I think was the most plausible scenario put forward by any of the panel members i.e., Elon thought acquiring the company would be funny → the market moved on him and he wanted to back out → facing further depositions and court orders he had to proceed → he gets out the wrecking ball.

I would not be surprised if bona fide competitors are looking at this and thinking “gee if he’s going to reset the thing to zero, wouldn’t that be a good time to enter the market and compete toe-to-toe…” Meta could presumably spin something up quickly, spend their war chest to attract key influencers, journalists and public figures, all the while targeting and incentivising their existing user base of nearly 2 billion users to try the platform. It would potentially be money better spent than setting fire to vaults full of “metaverse” cash…

I just got to the point in the episode where Leo declares half of Americans are filled with hate.

Is it possible to disagree with the liberal orthodoxy for any other reason than being filled with hate? Father Robert was disinvited from the show following the Dobbs decision - Is that because he is filled with hate? Of course not! People have principled beliefs and different perspectives based on their lives and experiences.

In the past, generalizations like this were seen as ignorant, until the left half of the political spectrum that proclaims their tolerance became intolerant of any opposing viewpoint.

I love this show when you discuss Tech, but that is less and less of the show as time goes by.

Please stop trying to be This Week in MSNBC.

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