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  1. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Looks like they’ll be about 2,000 next week. Soon to be university professors and NIST bureaucrats.

    • #1
  2. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut. 

    • #2
  3. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    FWIW, I worked on a software project that was over 1M LoC. It probably didn’t work the way commercial projects do because we had to handle a lot of documentation for the specific government agency. There were systems engineers who tracked requirements for the project. ICDs were a major issue. /* Interface Control Documents */ 

    The software was structured as a collection of Configuration Items, each of which consisted of Software Components, sometimes broken down into “Units”. There was an integration and test group who did a combination of system tests, unit tests, “Validation and Verification”, assessed requirement satisfaction. It was a major and expensive effort designed from the ground up. This started as a funded prototype in 1986. Some of the concepts were revolutionary at the time. Today, I suspect one could buy a lot of components off-the-shelf and integrate them into the framework. It was all done with, at top head-count, 162 people. There wasn’t much dead weight. 

    In other areas, the old saying that 20% of the group did 80% of the real work was true. 

    • #3
  4. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Django (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    FWIW, I worked on a software project that was over 1M LoC. It probably didn’t work the way commercial projects do because we had to handle a lot of documentation for the specific government agency. There were systems engineers who tracked requirements for the project. ICDs were a major issue. /* Interface Control Documents */

    The software was structured as a collection of Configuration Items, each of which consisted of Software Components, sometimes broken down into “Units”. There was an integration and test group who did a combination of system tests, unit tests, “Validation and Verification”, assessed requirement satisfaction. It was a major and expensive effort designed from the ground up. This started as a funded prototype in 1986. Some of the concepts were revolutionary at the time. Today, I suspect one could buy a lot of components off-the-shelf and integrate them into the framework. It was all done with, at top head-count, 162 people. There wasn’t much dead weight.

    In other areas, the old saying that 20% of the group did 80% of the real work was true.

    My engineering career started the same. Ground-up software development, testing, and maintenance for the government as a systems engineer. Can’t tell you how many were employed, but we had two locations and I’m pretty sure it was fewer than a thousand. Probably fewer than half that.

    And by the time the system was fully installed, it was pretty much obsolete and was replaced with COTS products within a couple years. Government contracts/contractors are not known for their efficiency, but even they appear to be better than Twitter.

    Elon Musk is the most entertaining person on the scene since President Donald Trump. I just laugh and laugh when I hear people are quitting because they refuse to work hard. If only he could buy out our federal government. . .

    • #4
  5. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    There is a philosophy in software development that holds that the maximum team size should be no larger than the number of slices in a large pizza.  I am not sure that I subscribe to that extreme, but really large teams are not necessary to support even complex products.  

    • #5
  6. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    From what I understand, the servers are hosted/run by Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS also has a free tool to test code put on those servers, making it relatively easy to to identify points of failure, etc. Load balancing, individual server failure rollover, backups, and so on, are all handled by AWS. So a lot of the staffing that would be needed in a company that runs its own servers isn’t needed.

    It really looks like a lot of the 7,000 were involved in areas not essential to actually coding and running the main business. They were involved in work like moderation, climate policy, and other garbage. The number of real engineers needed to bring about new functionality is probably near where Twitter staffing is after the cuts and voluntary separations. 

    I’ve not noticed any glitches or breakdowns on the app or web site. If that continues, Musk will be vindicated in getting rid of what now seems to be deadweight.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    MWD B612 "Dawg" (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    From what I understand, the servers are hosted/run by Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS also has a free tool to test code put on those servers, making it relatively easy to to identify points of failure, etc. Load balancing, individual server failure rollover, backups, and so on, are all handled by AWS. So a lot of the staffing that would be needed in a company that runs its own servers isn’t needed.

    It really looks like a lot of the 7,000 were involved in areas not essential to actually coding and running the main business. They were involved in work like moderation, climate policy, and other garbage. The number of real engineers needed to bring about new functionality is probably near where Twitter staffing is after the cuts and voluntary separations.

    I’ve not noticed any glitches or breakdowns on the app or web site. If that continues, Musk will be vindicated in getting rid of what now seems to be deadweight.

    And it will matter less, perhaps not at all, if a lot of advertisers bail and stay bailed:  their money won’t be needed to pay people who are no longer there.

    • #7
  8. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I heard Craigslist employs something like 50 people. 

    • #8
  9. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    I heard Craigslist employs something like 50 people.

    In the project I mentioned, of the 162 people I’d guess that no more than 35 were dedicated software developers. The funny thing to me was the number of people the customer sent to technical review sessions. One of the memories I have was being told at 11:45 to get my charts ready for a 13:00 presentation. I wasn’t on the schedule, but that got changed at the last minute.  I was supposed to hit the highlights for five minutes, but the presentation took over 30 minutes because it stimulated a lot of conversation. 

    When I got to the stage, I noticed around 400 people there. About half or more were nodding off. When I got into the details, I noticed that at each critical point, a few people got nudged and apparently told, “This is your part.” They’d ask their questions; take notes, and then nod off for the rest of the presentation. 

    • #9
  10. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    FWIW, I worked on a software project that was over 1M LoC. It probably didn’t work the way commercial projects do because we had to handle a lot of documentation for the specific government agency. There were systems engineers who tracked requirements for the project. ICDs were a major issue. /* Interface Control Documents */

    The software was structured as a collection of Configuration Items, each of which consisted of Software Components, sometimes broken down into “Units”. There was an integration and test group who did a combination of system tests, unit tests, “Validation and Verification”, assessed requirement satisfaction. It was a major and expensive effort designed from the ground up. This started as a funded prototype in 1986. Some of the concepts were revolutionary at the time. Today, I suspect one could buy a lot of components off-the-shelf and integrate them into the framework. It was all done with, at top head-count, 162 people. There wasn’t much dead weight.

    In other areas, the old saying that 20% of the group did 80% of the real work was true.

    My engineering career started the same. Ground-up software development, testing, and maintenance for the government as a systems engineer. Can’t tell you how many were employed, but we had two locations and I’m pretty sure it was fewer than a thousand. Probably fewer than half that.

    And by the time the system was fully installed, it was pretty much obsolete and was replaced with COTS products within a couple years. Government contracts/contractors are not known for their efficiency, but even they appear to be better than Twitter.

    Elon Musk is the most entertaining person on the scene since President Donald Trump. I just laugh and laugh when I hear people are quitting because they refuse to work hard. If only he could buy out our federal government. . .

    We delivered a major upgrade in October 1993. Because the customer fell out of love with DEC, a major re-engineering effort was started in, IIRC, 1994. I made my last contribution in 1995 and moved on to other efforts. In 2010, the re-engineering effort was still struggling. Rumor Control said that $300M had been wasted on efforts that failed. My last contribution was still running in 2010. 

     

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    And where do those Twitter leavers think they’ll get a job somewhere else doing nothing much?

    • #11
  12. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    kedavis (View Comment):

    And where do those Twitter leavers thing they’ll get a job somewhere else doing nothing much?

    I have heard reports that twitter was losing $120M a month. Two questions came to mind almost immediately upon hearing that. First, how long had that been the case? Second, were “woke” corporations buying advertising just to keep twitter on line? 

    • #12
  13. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    I’ve noticed that Elon has made a few snide remarks (on Twitter, where else?) about the company’s engineering practices as he has dug into the organization. Assuming he’s correct (and he started in software) sounds like there’s a lot of effort been going into apps and modules that have little use and get in the way of performance, and managing configurations and servers by the current equivalent of sneaker net. Clearing deadwood people and code, and updating engineering SOP could be high leverage moves.

    • #13
  14. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    kedavis (View Comment):

    And where do those Twitter leavers thing they’ll get a job somewhere else doing nothing much?

    • #14
  15. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    As someone who used to be a computer programmer, I can aver: any “work” “group” will have lots of members who do nothing obvious. They are however obviously peripheral. It is politely understood, even by themselves, that they are to stay that way.

    I wonder if, two centuries ago, railroads were the same way. Besides guys who could honestly say (or sing) “I’ve been working on the railroad,” there could have been guys, many more guys, who thought about railroads. And what they (railroads) could do. And how people other than railroad-thinkers could do them. And so on.

    • #15
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    John H. (View Comment):

    As someone who used to be a computer programmer, I can aver: any “work” “group” will have lots of members who do nothing obvious. They are however obviously peripheral. It is politely understood, even by themselves, that they are to stay that way.

    I wonder if, two centuries ago, railroads were the same way. Besides guys who could honestly say (or sing) “I’ve been working on the railroad,” there could have been guys, many more guys, who thought about railroads. And what they (railroads) could do. And how people other than railroad-thinkers could do them. And so on.

    There is some value in people who – for example – think about how the trains could best be used, and the best routes for tracks etc.  But they aren’t being paid for that when they’re out there on the rails with a hammer.

    • #16
  17. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I’m sure there were too many people at Twitter…Musk’s risk, though, given the speed with which he has implemented the reduction, is firing too many of the wrong ones.  In running a large organization, it’s really necessary to use your managers to evaluate people…and, to the extent that you find yourself with managers you can’t trust, it is generally better to make the changes at that level first.

    Musk does, although, face some especially difficult people-problems given the in-your-face hostility that has greeted his purchase of the company.  There really does seem to be a danger of people behaving destructively.

    My experience is that it’s easier to build a new organization than to fix an existing one…although both situations are hard and without guaranteed success.

    • #17
  18. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    David Foster (View Comment):

    I’m sure there were too many people at Twitter…Musk’s risk, though, given the speed with which he has implemented the reduction, is firing too many of the wrong ones. In running a large organization, it’s really necessary to use your managers to evaluate people…and, to the extent that you find yourself with managers you can’t trust, it is generally better to make the changes at that level first.

    Musk does, although, face some especially difficult people-problems given the in-your-face hostility that has greeted his purchase of the company. There really does seem to be a danger of people behaving destructively.

    My experience is that it’s easier to build a new organization than to fix an existing one…although both situations are hard and without guaranteed success.

    At least with computer-based systems, some risk can be reduced or avoided by changing passwords etc.

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Y’all are all singing my song

     

    • #19
  20. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Yay you need maybe a few hundred at most for the database and server support and maybe 800 for new software development. A few hundred for the admin support. 

    Now a group providing good data for targeted advertising and advertiser interface could be a few hundred to a thousand or two.  Like if you have a lot of small advertisers doing lots of targeted ads you would need a large staff to manage that.

    • #20
  21. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    This is true for at least 1/3 of the entire US economy.

    So many positions are just bureaucracy-mandated and produce no real economic value whatsoever.

    • #21
  22. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    This is true for at least 1/3 of the entire US economy.

    So many positions are just bureaucracy-mandated and produce no real economic value whatsoever.

    In tech I suspect it’s more like 2/3rds to 3/4ths, if not more.

    • #22
  23. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    kedavis (View Comment):

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    This is true for at least 1/3 of the entire US economy.

    So many positions are just bureaucracy-mandated and produce no real economic value whatsoever.

    In tech I suspect it’s more like 2/3rds to 3/4ths, if not more.

    Not in the industry where Mr. C and I currently work. If anything, we’re so lean we risk single points of failure if any one of us doesn’t show up. 

    • #23
  24. Modus Ponens Member
    Modus Ponens
    @ModusPonens

    Big Tech is full of redundancy: excessive middle-management, bean counters, and HR departments trying to force conformity with the latest pronoun guidelines. More time is wasted in useless meetings and bureaucratic processes than is spent on productive work. Whether or not Musk succeeds in making Twitter profitable is of little concern to me. I’d be just as happy with him destroying it as reforming it.

    I’d pay $8 a month to Musk for life, if he continually acquired and destroyed Big Tech companies. Maybe he can get enough people to support that to make a new business out of it.

    • #24
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Modus Ponens (View Comment):
    I’d pay $8 a month to Musk for life, if he continually acquired and destroyed Big Tech companies. Maybe he can get enough people to support that to make a new business out of it.

    LOL.

    • #25
  26. Headedwest Inactive
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    There is a philosophy in software development that holds that the maximum team size should be no larger than the number of slices in a large pizza. I am not sure that I subscribe to that extreme, but really large teams are not necessary to support even complex products.

    A famous book, “The Mythical Man-Month” (obviously published before PC language was required) by Fred Brooks is an account about how throwing more people at a project actually slows it down.

    That said, I suspect the people who worked on the operations of Twitter were a fairly small fraction of the total employees. My guess is the head count consisted of lots of political commissars.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Headedwest (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Granted I don’t know how coding works on large projects but 7,000 seems huge. You need a team to process all the message. Different teams to form the front-ends for various platforms. A marketing team to sell advertising. Finance, lawyers, international teams. That will be a fair amount of people, but the company sounds bloated and a lot of fat could be cut.

    There is a philosophy in software development that holds that the maximum team size should be no larger than the number of slices in a large pizza. I am not sure that I subscribe to that extreme, but really large teams are not necessary to support even complex products.

    A famous book, “The Mythical Man-Month” (obviously published before PC language was required) by Fred Brooks is an account about how throwing more people at a project actually slows it down.

    That said, I suspect the people who worked on the operations of Twitter were a fairly small fraction of the total employees. My guess is the head count consisted of lots of political commissars.

    And lots of work-from-home even before covid.

    And wasn’t 7,000 the number of employees still remaining AFTER half were gone?  Weren’t there like 14,000 before?

    • #27
  28. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

     As a heavy Twitter user, this is all hilarious. Nothing has changed. NOTHING. Not the content, not the responsiveness of the app. There’s no firehose of NAZI HATE. There’s not a gaggle of nattering goblins injecting the N-word into my feed. I see a lot of people retweeting Twitter employees who believe they were the last best hope, the thin blue-check line, the dedicated folk who could save Our Democracy by having meetings twice a month on tweaking the shadow-ban protocols for borderline transphobic sh*tposting accounts. As if the entire nation was a quivering brain with PTSD that needed the careful ministrations of Twitter moderators who keep it all from descending into feral shrieking despair.

     

    • #28
  29. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    As a heavy Twitter user, this is all hilarious. Nothing has changed. NOTHING. Not the content, not the responsiveness of the app. There’s no firehose of NAZI HATE. There’s not a gaggle of nattering goblins injecting the N-word into my feed. I see a lot of people retweeting Twitter employees who believe they were the last best hope, the thin blue-check line, the dedicated folk who could save Our Democracy by having meetings twice a month on tweaking the shadow-ban protocols for borderline transphobic sh*tposting accounts. As if the entire nation was a quivering brain with PTSD that needed the careful ministrations of Twitter moderators who keep it all from descending into feral shrieking despair.

     

    Not just tweaking.  Also twerking.

    • #29
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    As a heavy Twitter user, this is all hilarious. Nothing has changed. NOTHING. Not the content, not the responsiveness of the app. There’s no firehose of NAZI HATE. There’s not a gaggle of nattering goblins injecting the N-word into my feed. I see a lot of people retweeting Twitter employees who believe they were the last best hope, the thin blue-check line, the dedicated folk who could save Our Democracy by having meetings twice a month on tweaking the shadow-ban protocols for borderline transphobic sh*tposting accounts. As if the entire nation was a quivering brain with PTSD that needed the careful ministrations of Twitter moderators who keep it all from descending into feral shrieking despair.

     

    I don’t really use it, so thanks for the on the spot report.

     

    • #30
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