Sacked Twitter exec that went viral still defends going “all in” for Elon Musk


No one likely personified Elon Musk’s “extreme hard-core” Twitter 2.0 better than Esther Crawford, its director of product management who became internet famous for sleeping on the office floor.

Now Crawford, who survived multiple staff cullings at the social media platform, has herself been let go. Instead of bitterness, however, she defended her decision to forego family time in favor of grinding it out for Twitter’s billionaire owner. 

“The worst take you could have from watching me go all-in on Twitter 2.0 is that my optimism or hard work was a mistake,” she wrote on Sunday in a post on Twitter already viewed by 1.2 million people.

The worst take you could have from watching me go all-in on Twitter 2.0 is that my optimism or hard work was a mistake. Those who jeer & mock are necessarily on the sidelines and not in the arena. I’m deeply proud of the team for building through so much noise & chaos. 💙

— Esther Crawford ✨ (@esthercrawford) February 27, 2023

The November snapshot of the mother of three curled up in a sleeping bag and eye mask posted next to her “cheeky” hashtag #SleepWhereYouWork sparked controversy for its alleged glorification of a corporate culture that required constant self-sacrifice just as Twitter was about to lay off over half its workforce.

When your team is pushing round the clock to make deadlines sometimes you #SleepWhereYouWork

— Esther Crawford ✨ (@esthercrawford) November 2, 2022

The initial weeks of Musk’s Twitter reboot saw Crawford’s co-workers repeatedly pushed out the door in typically headline-grabbing fashion.

One was openly fired via Twitter after daring to publicly correct Musk, while sacked software engineer Nicholas Robinson-Wall even advocated colleagues had a “moral duty” to disobey the new owner.

The blowback over her choice to spend nights at the office prompted Crawford to openly profess her love for her family: “I’m grateful they understand that there are times where I need to go into overdrive to grind and push in order to deliver.” (Her husband called her a role model for their children).

Nonetheless, the picture landed at a time when sensitivity over U.S. labor conditions is on the rise, with fresh efforts to organize companies controlled by known union-busters like Musk and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

Twitter employees had also begun to question whether it was worth burning the midnight oil just to help Musk salvage a $44 billion investment he fought until the very end to avoid: “Would you sacrifice time with your kids over the holiday for vague assurances and the opportunity to make a rich person richer, or would you take the out,” ex-Twitter employee Peter Clowes asked rhetorically at the time before bailing on the company. 

Crawford takes aim at critics

Throughout this turbulent time, Crawford remained a staunch defender of the capricious visionary, rolling out his scheme to charge users for a previously free verification badge

Controversial at the time, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg has now cribbed the idea for his own.

Crawford’s unwavering support for Musk may have also been due to her own familiarity with the pressures he faces as an entrepreneur, having herself co-founded and run a software startup called Squad she later sold to Twitter in December 2020.

In a profile of Crawford published last month, the Financial Times described her as a “rare leader” from the company’s old guard that could win Musk’s favor by challenging him tactfully behind closed doors.

When it became her turn to fall on her sword, however, Musk’s gladiator called out the critics for being armchair generals.

She accused them of jeering from the sidelines rather than being “in the arena” with her, a reference to a 1910 speech by Theodor Roosevelt popular in corporate America for extolling society’s doer of deeds. (Nike liked it so much it, it turned it into a commercial).

Now the mantle of Musk’s most faithful supporter at Twitter appears to have passed to Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of Trust and Safety that Bloomberg recently described as the “chief executor of Musk’s whims”. 

Irwin replied to Crawford on Sunday, acknowledging the brief but important role she played in assisting the new owner. “Thank you for working so hard to help lay the foundation for Twitter 2.0, Esther,” she wrote. “You will be missed.”

Learn how to navigate and strengthen trust in your business with The Trust Factor, a weekly newsletter examining what leaders need to succeed. Sign up here.