20 % of the Customers Drink 80 % of the Beer

That version of the the 80/20 Rule is attributed to an English pub keeper. It’s an informal summary of the Pareto distribution, a power-law probability phenomenon that describes a great deal of human behavior. The Pareto distribution suggests it is usually the case in an organization with a statistically large population that a group about the size of the square root of the total population produces half of the organization’s beneficial work.

This tells us why Elon Musk is probably right and Robert Reich is probably wrong.

If Twitter had 7500 employees when Musk took over, something on the order of 87 were probably carrying half the real productive load. Firing only half the staff wouldn’t get rid of enough deadwood.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Twitter will be reshaped.

Cleaning House at Twitter

Elon Musk has announced Twitter 2.0 and is taking the company back into startup mode. At midnight PT, employees received an email telling them to expect long hours and high performance standards. They were given until close of business Thursday to either sign on to the new program or take three months’ severance pay.

A few dedicated hardcore engineers will generally deliver a better product than a large team of 9-to-5ers. Think of the Macintosh computer ecosystem versus Windows 95 or the reusable SpaceX Falcon 9 versus the finally flying SLS.

I’ve been on several the kind of engineering teams that Musk is trying to form at Twitter. I’ve even had the privilege of leading one. It can be exhilarating. It can be draining. And it’s for the young. I’ll be 75 on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve had to slow down a bit, but I still find myself working overtime to get things not just right but the best they can be.

Twitter is noticeably better since Musk bought it. I look forward to seeing what he can do with the deadwood out of the way.

UPDATE—Corrected the drop dead date for getting with new program.