With Twitter’s workforce now less than a third of what it was when Elon Musk took control, those who stayed are facing incredible pressure to evolve and keep many features running.
One such person is George Hotz — a software engineer and hacker best known for becoming the first person to unlock the iPhone at age 17 in 2007 and later jailbreaking restrictions on PlayStation 3. Sony (SNEJF) hit Hotz with a lawsuit after he published information on how to do it online although both sides had settled by 2011. (One of the conditions was that he never attempt something like this with a Sony product again.)
Now in his 30s, Hotz recently volunteered to spend 12 weeks working to improve Twitter’s search function and fix certain pop-ups users get when scrolling the site without logging in.
Hotz Bets on Himself at Twitter
“I’ll put my money where my mouth is,” Hotz posted on Twitter on Nov. 16 after receiving criticism for defending Musk’s ultimatum that workers either commit to working “long hours at high intensity” or take severance pay. “I’m down for a 12-week internship at Twitter for cost of living in SF. It’s not about accumulating capital in a dead world, it’s about making the world alive.”
At the time, Musk replied to the tweet with “let’s talk.”
While both Musk and Hotz are known for making big promises that ultimately fizzle out, it looks as though Hotz has begun doing some work for Twitter — on Nov. 21, Hotz wrote that he was working on what one user described as “twitters [sic] unusable broken search.”
“That’s what Elon told me my job was, and I will try my hardest to do it,” Hotz wrote. “I have 12 weeks. also trying to get rid of that nondismissable login pop-up after you scroll a little bit ugh these things ruin the Internet.”
Hotz and Musk Are Frenemies
Hotz’s defense of Musk’s employee ultimatum came as a surprise to some given that he and Musk have a history of butting heads.
In 2015, Hotz revealed that Musk had tried to tap him for a job at Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report but discussions fell through after Musk kept “kept changing the terms.” He told a Bloomberg reporter that Musk had offered him a bonus of several million if he built a better autopilot program than what Tesla had at the time.
Tesla called the Bloomberg story “extremely inaccurate” and Hotz went out to found Comma.ai to one-up Tesla and build his own self-driving technology. He stepped down as its CEO at the end of October 2022 and largely avoided any high-profile feuds with Musk since.
It appears as though, for Hotz, the new “internship” at Twitter is a way of trying a challenge and gaining notoriety — he made it clear that he does not plan to throw all of himself at Twitter indefinitely.
“I’m not the guy if you want long-term stability, but I really enjoy diving into complex codebases and think I could help document and clean up some of those 1000 microservices in 12 weeks,” Hotz wrote under his initial offer. “Reverse engineering!”