Elon Musk is crushed under the weight of his own hubris after another one of his mass layoffs. This time, a disabled worker was caught in the crossfire, and Musk showed no restraint in humiliating the poor man on his recently acquired platform. Now, he is forced to pay millions of dollars as a result of his actions and publicly apologises to avoid lawsuits.
To understand how this (failing) multi-billionaire dug his own grave, we must first understand the situation at Twitter HQ and, of course, the man whom he fired and how he came back to haunt Musk.
Twitter Takeover: Mass Layoffs
Musk’s acquisition of the social media platform is jarring, to say the least. Talks about the event had been flying around on the internet for some time at that point, but nobody expected that he’d follow through. Many assumed that it would just be a sort of torch-passing event and then it would be business as usual, but the polar opposite happened. What followed were wave after wave of mass layoffs; from the coding team to the content moderation team, no one was safe.
Unfortunately, the way these layoffs were handled was also very unprofessional, as staff would realise they were fired when they could no longer access their company email or laptops – this eventually comprised around 75% of the company’s entire staff. Even several founders of small tech companies that Twitter had acquired over the years were not spared, including Haraldur Thorleifsson, founder of the design studio Ueno, which Twitter bought in 2021, and the star of this article.
Person Of The Year: Haraldur Thorleifsson
It’s been a hard year in many ways. Many ups and downs.
But on a positive note I was awarded/voted Person of the Year by four of the main networks, programs and publications in Iceland.
Which to a shy and awkward kid feels a bit strange but also quite nice.
Happy new year! pic.twitter.com/1c9kytL4I9
— Halli (@iamharaldur) December 31, 2022
Haraldur Thorleifsson, better known as Halli, is a 45-year-old designer from Iceland who was born with muscular dystrophy, a sickness that left him bound to a wheelchair. Despite this, he still founded Ueno, a successful branding and design company. He cited that it was because of Iceland’s healthcare and education systems that he was able to make it to where he is now.
He gained international recognition when, after the sale of his tech company, Ueno, to Twitter, he chose to be paid the sale price as wages. He would normally receive less tax, but Thorleifsson opted for the higher tax rate in order to give back to his country and is one of the highest taxpayers in Iceland as a result. And if he were to be fired for any reason, he would receive the payment for his company’s sale all at once as per his contract with Twitter.
Today is the two year anniversary of our Ramp up initiative!
Together we’ve built almost 500 wheelchair ramps all across Iceland.
But @rampur is nowhere near near finished with about 1000 more to go.
Here are some of the amazing young people who have helped us. pic.twitter.com/zw4cI8X7A6
— Halli (@iamharaldur) March 11, 2023
Since his company’s sale, Thorleifsson has engaged in multiple philanthropic adventures, such as Ramp Up Iceland, where he builds wheelchair ramps all over the country, and has even donated incredible sums of money to victims of sexual abuse. All of these eventually culminated in him receiving four “Person of the Year” awards.
The Uno Reverse Card Moment: Musk’s Humiliation And Immediate Apology
He asked me what I had been working on. When I told him he laughed.
Which, to be fair, I get. I am quite funny.
Then all of the sudden, Twitter's head of HR, (who had previously twice been unable to tell me if I had a job or not) emailed and said I was no longer employed.
— Halli (@iamharaldur) March 7, 2023
As mentioned earlier, Halli was part of Twitter’s wave of layoffs, but he only found out he was laid off nine days after the fact, and only after he publicly asked online. Halli couldn’t log in to his work, nor did he receive any word from HR. After some back and forth on Twitter, they decided to have a phone call, during which Elon laughed at him before dropping the call and sending off a formal notice.
Later on the same day, Musk decided to publicly disclose and mock Halli’s condition. However, Halli took this in stride and even disclosed his condition and the events of his life willingly in a long Twitter thread that had some sick burns that demolished Musk’s ego. He explained that he lost his ability to walk at 25 because of his condition; doctors said that his hand should remain unaffected, but that too was unfortunately deteriorating. He managed to cope by surrounding himself with loved ones like his wife and kids, whom he sees daily, something the recently-divorced Musk can’t do. He has been transparent about everything, from the creation of his company to its sale and even the current situation at Twitter.
Hi again @elonmusk 👋
I hope you are well.
I’m fine too. I’m thankful for your interest in my health.
But since you mentioned it, I wanted to give you more info.
I have muscular dystrophy. It has many effects on my body.
Let me tell you what they are: https://t.co/2vb16kP6Yv
— Halli (@iamharaldur) March 7, 2023
In light of all this, Musk publicly apologised to Halli for the misunderstanding and even stated that Halli is “considering remaining at Twitter,” but it is not confirmed if he would return at the time of writing. This immediate change of tune can be because of multiple reasons, but the safest reasons would be that firing Halli would be too expensive for Musk, even with his net worth, and his decision to publicly mock and disclose the condition of a disabled man is a different can of worms and might even escalate to a lawsuit.
We wish nothing but the best for Halli and his future endeavours. May he carry himself with the same grace as when he let Musk down gently on his own platform.
Source: ERP Today
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