Hillicon Valley — Musk ends layoffs, actively recruiting

After weeks of massive layoffs at Twitter, Elon Musk is turning the corner and looking to hire again for roles in sales and engineering. 

Meanwhile, civil rights groups are calling for advertisers to boycott Twitter over Musk’s recent decision to reinstate former President Trump on the social media platform. 

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter?

Following mass layoffs, Musk is hiring

Elon Musk is reportedly done with Twitter layoffs and is now looking to hire again after slashing nearly half of the company’s workforce earlier this month. 

According to information obtained by The Verge, Musk told employees during a meeting on Monday that the company was ceasing layoffs and actively hiring for positions specifically in sales and engineering. The staff was also encouraged to make referrals for the roles. 

“In terms of critical hires, I would say people who are great at writing software are the highest priority,” Musk said during the meeting, according to The Verge. 

The meeting follows Musk’s ultimatum to Twitter staff last week that they commit to working “hardcore” hours or leave the company with three months of severance pay. Hundreds of employees chose to resign instead of committing to longer hours and more intense work. 

Since Musk acquired Twitter in late October, a number of senior executives have left the social media platform, including most recently Twitter’s head of France, Damien Viel, who announced on Monday that he was resigning from his position. 

Read more here

Groups unhappy over Musk’s Twitter ruling

Civil rights groups ramped up their calls for an ad boycott over Elon Musk’s decision to reinstate former President Trump on Twitter, saying Musk broke promises to curb hate speech and misinformation on the platform. 

“Any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising now,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson tweeted over the weekend after Musk said Trump’s account would be reinstated. 

Musk, who has made a number of controversial changes to the social media platform since his $44 billion acquisition, restored the former president’s account after a slim majority of Twitter users backed the move in a poll that Musk shared. 

Activists met with Musk earlier this month after reports that racist and antisemitic tweets surged on the site after Musk’s takeover, and the Twitter CEO promised a content moderation council to help make decisions about the site. 

  • But the decision to reinstate Trump’s account was made without the conference of such a council, Bloomberg reported
  • “We got a commitment he wouldn’t replatform anyone until he had a transparent process. It is pretty clear that doing a Twitter poll is not a transparent process, especially because there’s no information about who voted in the poll,” Anti-Defamation League Vice President Yael Eisenstat told Bloomberg. 

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Twitter chief Elon Musk announced on Monday night that he would delay the relaunch of his new Twitter blue-check program until the platform develops a strategy with “high confidence of stopping impersonation.” 

“Holding off relaunch of Blue Verified until there is high confidence of stopping impersonation,” wrote Musk

Musk’s $8 subscription-based verification plan launched earlier this month has come under scrutiny for the ease with which it can be misused to impersonate public figures

Legitimate users could lose their verified checkmarks because they choose not to pay, allowing other accounts to deceptively use their information under the guise of a blue check. 

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Computer maker HP Inc. on Tuesday announced plans to slash between 4,000 and 6,000 employees by the end of 2025, becoming the latest tech company to announce mass layoffs as the sector grapples with inflation and recession fears. 

The company said in its fourth quarter fiscal reports that the staffing reduction will result in annualized gross run rate savings of around $1.4 billion over the next three years, and incur about a billion dollars in costs, with $600 million of the latter amount coming in fiscal 2023. 

Tech companies like HP have been turning to layoffs amid soaring inflation and mounting fears of a global recession. 

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Shareholders for a firm seeking to merge with Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) voted on Tuesday to extend the deadline to combine with the parent company of former President Trump’s social media site Truth Social. 

Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) will now have until September 2023 to complete the merger with TMTG, according to CNBC

Shares were up roughly 2 percent on news of the extension. 

DWAC, a so-called “blank check” company created to merge with a technology company, faced liquidation if it didn’t win approval to extend the deadline.  

TMTG needs the cash from the acquisition firm to go public. The merger could result in around $1 billion in funding. 

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An op-ed to chew on: To be effective on tech, Congress needs a tech committee 

Notable links from around the web: 

As Elon Musk Cuts Costs at Twitter, Some Bills Are Going Unpaid (The New York Times / Mike Isaac and Ryan Mac)  

FTX was run as ‘personal fiefdom‘, faces hacks, missing assets –attorneys (Reuters / Dietrich Knauth, Tom Hals, Tom Wilson) 

The federal government just took another big swipe at illegal robocalls (CNN / Brian Fung) 

One more thing: Orion captures views of the moon

Six days after NASA’s Orion spacecraft launched on a journey to the moon, the gumdrop-shaped capsule reached its destination on Monday.

Soaring 81 miles above the lunar surface, the spacecraft passed over the historic Tranquility Base — the site of the Apollo 11 moon landing — and into the history books.  

Snapping views of Earth and the moon, the capsule completed its flyby and one of its two biggest maneuvers of the mission, setting up for a record-setting milestone: traveling more than 40,000 miles beyond the far side of the moon.

When the spacecraft reaches this distance, it will break a record set by the Apollo 13 crew and reach the furthest distance a human-rated spacecraft has ever traveled.   

“We are setting up to orbit beyond the moon,” Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission manager said during a press conference on Monday. “Called a distant retrograde orbit, today was our largest propulsive event of the mission to set us up for that.” 

Read more here

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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