hAraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson spent nine tense days not knowing if his job at Twitter had been terminated before deciding to send a tweet to owner Elon Musk on Monday, asking for a response. What followed was a public spat on the platform, during which Musk questioned Thorleifsson’s work ethic and disability, accusing him of seeking “big pay.” Within a day, Musk was forced to back down and apologize to Thorleifsson, as it emerged that terminating his job could be very costly for Twitter.
Thorleifsson joined Twitter when the company acquired his startup in 2021, under the leadership of co-founder and later CEO Jack Dorsey. He was celebrated by the media in Iceland, where he lives, for choose to receive the purchase price as salary, rather than a lump sum, to be able to pay higher taxes in the country to support public services. Amid mass layoffs on Twitter, Thorleifsson tweeted on March 6 that he had lost access to systems but had not been told if he was a Twitter employee, despite emails and calls to HR. of the company and, finally, to Musk himself. The consequences have led to speculation of Twitter users that the company would be on the hook for a large payment to Thorleifsson if he terminated his employment contract at a End-shutdown when the company is taking drastic measures trying to save money.
“Let me know if you are going to pay me what you owe me?” thorleifsson tweeted during the trade with Musk, without specifying the amount or terms of his contract. “I think you can afford it?”
Musk faced a wave of public criticism for his responses to Thorleifsson, which disputed and even seemed Sketch Icelandic’s descriptions of his role. “The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did not do any real work, he made the excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from writing, but at the same End-shutdown he was tweeting up a storm,” Musk tweeted over Thorleifsson on Tuesday. Thorleifsson addressed Elon’s comments in a series of tweets, explaining how his disability, muscular dystrophy, affects him, later adding that he had since received a notice from Twitter that his employment had ended. been terminated.
It was only after another Twitter user, Daniel Houghton, intervened on March 7 that Musk says he spoke to Thorleifsson “to find out what’s real versus what they told me.”
Later that day, Musk tweeted, “I would like to apologize to Halli for my misinterpretation of her situation. She relied on things that I was told were false, or in some cases true, but not significant.”
“He is considering staying at Twitter,” Musk added. Thorleifsson has not commented on whether he plans to rejoin the company.
However, Thorleifsson, who was named Icelandic broadcaster RÚV’s Person of the Year in 2022, did. cheep on March 7 that he planned to open a restaurant in Reykjavik soon. He is also known for his philanthropy and for funding the construction of hundreds of ramps around Iceland, a cause near thorleifssonwho started using a wheelchair 20 years ago.
Twitter has been cutting costs with a series of staff reductions since Musk took over the company. The most recent round of layoffs at Twitter reportedly affected approximately 200 employees—about 10% of the company’s workforce. The company employs about 2,000 people, with 7,500 that Twitter started with when Musk acquired the company last year.
Thorleifsson and Twitter did not respond to TIME’s requests for comment.
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