After months of conflict and uncertainty, it seems that Elon Musk’s plan to acquire Twitter for $44 billion is back on—which could have a sizable impact not only on all the technologists working for the company, but pretty much everyone in the social media ecosystem.
Why is Musk willing to spend a significant portion of his net worth on Twitter, a company that’s routinely struggled for market-share against Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other social-media platforms? An Oct. 4 Tweet offers a clue:
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
Or as CNBC put it: “Musk may be hinting toward so-called ‘super apps’ which are popular in China and other parts of Asia and pioneered by the likes of Chinese technology giant Tencent.” Those so-called “super apps” (which also include WeChat, a social-media and payments app with more than a billion active monthly users in China) allow users to carry out a variety of functions on the same platform, from ride-hailing and food delivery to payments.
If the acquisition goes through, Musk will likely need to hire a lot of very skilled technologists to make that ambitious vision a reality. In theory, a successful “super app” will need data scientists, mobile app developers, fintech specialists, UI/UX designers, and many more kinds of technology professionals—and Musk may need to pay significant compensation to draw them away from their current jobs. Twitter’s longtime internal drama, which has led to scores of technologists leaving the company, probably won’t help draw folks in.
For those intrigued by Musk’s plans, it’s helpful to review what he tends to pay technologists. For example, here’s what software engineers make at Tesla (this data comes from levels.fyi, which crowdsources its compensation data):
Meanwhile, here’s what various rankings of software engineers make at Twitter:
Compensation at a Musk-run Twitter will certainly remain high, but if Musk’s other companies are any indication, employees will be expected to work long hours and deliver extraordinary results. If Musk’s efforts succeed, you could see talent from other social-media companies gravitating toward Twitter—which would make for an interesting reversal of the past few years.