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What you need to know about Elon Musk’s inner circle on Twitter




As Elon Musk carries out his chaotic early days as Twitter’s new CEO—cutting staff, trolling both employees and users, and scaring off advertisers—you might be wondering who this guy is getting his advice from?

In his first two weeks running Twitter, Musk has assembled a tight-knit group of his “war room” advisers. Many members of the group are longtime confidants of Musk, and some of them have very little background in social media. Since Musk is the ultimate decision-maker, it’s unclear exactly how much power they have on Twitter, but these numbers have gained influence overnight over one of the world̵[ads1]7;s most powerful platforms for online communication.

To better understand how Musk plans to change Twitter, it’s worth learning more about the backgrounds, relationships and beliefs of the key men (none of Musk’s key advisers are women) who have Musk’s ear. None of Musk’s advisers responded to Recode’s request for comment.

Jason Calacanis.
Dion Lee/Vox; Getty Images

Jason Calacanis

What he is known for
Calacanis is an early-stage technology investor who has invested in Uber and Robinhood. He is a popular technology media figure who hosts two podcasts, This week in Startups and All-In. He is also a prolific tweeter and known to be a self-made master networker since his time as an early tech reporter in New York during the dot-com boom.

How he knows Musk
Musk and Calacanis have a friendship that goes back to Calacanis’ days starting the tech trade Silicon Alley Reporter. Musk later invested in Calacanis’ now-defunct Google search competitor, Mahalo. And Calacanis was reportedly the first owner of Tesla’s Model S car.

We know that Calacanis has professed his loyalty to Musk as a friend from private texts released in court documents from Twitter v. Elon Musk case.

In April, when Musk asked if Calacanis wanted to be an adviser to Twitter after the deal was done, he replied:

“Board member, advisor, whatever… you have my sword.”

What we know about his ideas for Twitter
Calacanis pitched Musk to charging users for verification badges several months ago, a controversial idea that Musk has now put in place. “[W]why should blue chins be limited to the elite, the press and celebrities? How is that democratic?” Calacanis wrote in a text to Musk in April.

Other ideas Calacanis has presented in texts to Musk include charging users to send messages to a large group of users at once, moving Twitter’s headquarters from San Francisco to Tesla’s spare factory space in Austin, sharing revenue with popular creators for posting content on Twitter, and require employees to post content on Twitter. to come to the office twice a week.

As for content moderation, Calacanis has said in court-disclosed texts to Musk that he wants to make Twitter’s algorithm and moderation more “understandable and fair.”

Political affiliation
Calacanis has supported some Democratic party leaders like Hillary Clinton in the past. He also raised money for a journalist to investigate progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin — whose opponents said he was too soft on crime — before his recall in June 2022.

Relevant experience
Calacanis has a long history in media as an entrepreneur and journalist. After the Silicon Alley Reporter, Calacanis started an early blogging company called Weblogs which sold to AOL for $25 million in 2005.

David Sacks.
Dion Lee/Vox, Getty Images

David Sacks

What he is known for
Sacks is a technology investor and entrepreneur. He was the founding COO of PayPal, the founder and CEO of Yammer (a job messaging and social media app that was sold to Microsoft in 2012 for $1.2 billion), and the interim CEO of Zenefits in 2016.

Sacks, like Calacanis, hosts the popular All-In podcast and is a well-known figure in the technology industry.

How he knows Musk
Sacks and Musk go way back to their days as members of what has been called the “PayPal Mafia” — a group of early PayPal executives and employees, including billionaire tech entrepreneur and major Republican Party donor Peter Thiel, who went on to found or invest in other successful technology companies.

What we know about his ideas for Twitter
Sacks tweeted it in contrast to media reports, he has no formal role on Twitter and simply helps out as needed. However, Sacks has weighed in on key decisions, as he reportedly discussed making Twitter users pay a monthly fee to use the service after a certain amount of time, according to Platformer.

The tech investor has also vocally defended Musk’s elimination of free blue tick verification for public figures, criticizing “the entitled elite” for complaining about the matter.

Political affiliation
Sacks, who has donated to Democratic and Republican campaigns in the past, is becoming an increasingly popular figure in conservative media Twitter circles. A recent New Republic article profiling Sacks called him “the leading exponent of a new right-wing sensibility that has emerged in the political realignments provoked by Trumpism and the pandemic.” Like Calacanis, Sacks was a leading supporter of the recall of the Boudin campaign.

Sacks aligns with Musk in supporting negotiations with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, and has also criticized social media platforms for permanently banning politicians.

Experience from social media management
Sacks co-founded a social podcasting platform called Callin — similar to Clubhouse, but one that lets you keep and edit your recordings — which launched last September. He also co-founded Yammer, an enterprise social media app, in 2008.

Sriram Krishnan.
Dion Lee/Vox, Getty Images

Sriram Krishnan

What he is known for
Krishnan is an investor in the top technology venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz and has previously held leadership positions in major social media companies such as Facebook, Snap and Twitter.

He is also known for hosting the popular technology interview show Good Time Show, which he co-hosts with his wife Aarthi Ramamurthy.

How he knows Musk
Krishnan and Musk reportedly crossed paths in Silicon Valley circles a few years back, but their most notable collaboration was last year when Musk made an impromptu live appearance on Krishnan’s interview show at the Clubhouse.

What we know about his ideas for Twitter
Krishnan declined to comment to the BBC about “anything Twitter-related” earlier this month.

Political affiliation
Unknown.

Experience from social media management
Sriram Krishnan is the only one of Elon Musk’s inner circle of Twitter advisors who has actually worked at the company and for other major social media platforms.

Krishnan built his career as a social media executive, working first at Facebook (now Meta) on mobile monetization from 2013 to 2016, and then at Snap, and later Twitter from 2017 to 2019 working on the core product, before becoming a crypto investor at Andreessen Horowitz.

Alex Spiro.
Dion Lee/Vox, Getty Images

Alex Spiro

What he is known for
Spiro is a top celebrity attorney representing Musk. In the past, he has rehearsed A-list clients such as Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper and tennis champion Naomi Osaka.

How he knows Musk
Spiro is not only Musk’s lawyer, but one of his “closest lieutenants, confidants and consiglieres,” according to a Washington Post profile. He has represented Musk in high-profile cases from a defamation lawsuit he faced in 2018 to his dispute over buying Twitter.

What we know about his ideas for Twitter
Spiro advises on legal policy on Twitter, but has not shared his ideas for how to change the company.

Political affiliation
Spiro keeps a private profile, so we don’t know much about his politics, but the Post reported that he served as an adviser to the criminal reform organization United Justice Coalition.

Experience from social media management
No.

Jared Birchall.
Dion Lee/Vox, Getty Images

Jared Birchall

What he is known for
Birchall is mainly known for being Musk’s “straight-laced” family wealth manager. He is also the CEO of Neuralink, a neurotechnology company co-founded by Musk.

How he knows Musk
Like Musk’s lawyer Spiro, Birchall is particularly close to Musk. Bloomberg called him the billionaire’s “right deputy”.

Birchall met Musk a decade ago when he worked at Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles, according to the Wall Street Journal. He reportedly impressed Musk by raising hundreds of millions of dollars in loans at a time when Musk was “strapped for cash.”

The wealth adviser is said to have also hired an investigator to dig up dirt on the British cave diver who criticized Musk for trying to get involved in the rescue of a trapped football team in Thailand in 2018.

What we know about his ideas for Twitter
It’s unclear what specific ideas Birchall has for Twitter, but we do know he was critical of his relationship with bankers like Morgan Stanley — which led the financing of the Twitter deal, according to texts disclosed in court documents.

Political affiliation
Unknown.

Experience from social media management
No.





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