June 22, 2024

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It's the Technology

SF investigating Hotel Twitter, Musk might pack up and leave • The Register

SF investigating Hotel Twitter, Musk might pack up and leave • The Register

Elon Musk’s plans to allow some Twitter HQ employees to sleep on-site is running afoul of San Francisco building inspectors. Given Musk’s responses to previous challenges to his authority, Twitter might be Texas-bound just like SpaceX and Tesla before it.

Twitter surprised some remaining employees this week by converting several conference rooms into bedrooms for the “hardcore” workers that stuck around.

It took barely a day for Patrick Hannan, communications director for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, to confirm that the department had received a complaint, and little more time for Musk to tweet an attack at San Francisco’s mayor for the decision to investigate.

Calling Mayor London Breed out for what he described as misplaced priorities, Musk said the city of San Francisco was “attack[ing] companies providing beds for tired employees instead of making sure kids are safe from fentanyl.”

Hannan said the department investigates all complaints, and that commercial and residential codes are different, even for those being used for short-term stays. “Everyone in San Francisco deserves a safe place to live, work, play and sleep and no one is above the law,” Hannan said. 

It seems unlikely Musk told the city of his plans to transform several offices into bedroom quarters, given the Building Inspection Department’s response. 

Elon’s Calexit

It’s no secret that Musk likes getting his own way, and when local authorities push back against the richest man in the world his tactic seems to be to take his toys and find somewhere else to play.

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when California shuttered factories, Musk fought with regulators until eventually deciding to relocate Tesla HQ to Texas to escape rules he didn’t like. 

Now with San Francisco potentially opposing Muskian decrees, he may well try to uproot Twitter, too. Musk said as much in a Twitter Spaces broadcast he spoke on over the weekend, as reported by Bloomberg.

Twitter’s headquarters’ location meant that San Francisco’s “left leaning politics” have influenced its culture, Musk claimed, seemingly unaware of the existence of zoning laws. “What is happening is an export of the moral framework of San Francisco to Earth? This is kind of a big deal and problematic,” he said. 

Texas governor Greg Abbott has said he would welcome Twitter to Texas, and Musk has already taken steps to reduce Twitter’s office space in San Francisco, telling local employees this week that all non-HQ offices in town would cease to be used, “for now.”

Discrimination claim

Two women who were axed from Twitter after Musk took over are now suing the biz, claiming the mass layoffs disproportionately hit female employees.

Their lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco federal court this week, alleges 57 percent of female employees were given the boot whereas less than half of male workers were let go.

Twitter doesn’t own its headquarters – it’s been leasing the 600,000 square foot, nine-floor art deco building for ten years, and that building is probably looking pretty expensive right about now.

Concerns over what Twitter planned to do with the building predate Musk, and began in 2020 when Twitter made its remote work policy permanent. 

Now with less than half the headcount it had before Musk took over, the iconic Market Street building Twitter has called home for a decade is probably seeming pretty cavernous, and likely expensive for Musk, who has a lot of financial catching up to pay back creditors. 

Twitter’s move would be a major setback to a decade of revitalization in San Francisco’s Mid-Market area, which lured Twitter and other tech companies with a lifted payroll tax in 2011. Now, Twitter is one of the only major tech companies left in the neighborhood, and the length of that stay seems to be getting less certain. ®