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Musk defends bedrooms at Twitter headquarters as San Francisco investigates

The Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)
3 min

San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection said Tuesday it was investigating a complaint that Twitter had created makeshift bedrooms at its headquarters in the city, as new owner Elon Musk seeks to instill a “hardcore” culture at the social media company.

“We need to make sure the building is being used as intended,” Patrick Hannan, a spokesman for the department, said in an email. “There are different building code requirements for residential buildings, including those being used for short-term stays. These codes make sure people are using spaces safely.”

“No one is above the law,” he said.

The complaint — sent on Twitter to San Francisco’s 311 service — came after Forbes reported that multiple rooms in Twitter’s office were being converted into sleeping spaces, describing them as “modest bedrooms featuring unmade mattresses, drab curtains and giant conference-room telepresence monitors.”

Musk appeared to confirm the report, writing on Twitter: “So city of SF attacks companies providing beds for tired employees instead of making sure kids are safe from fentanyl. Where are your priorities @LondonBreed!?” He tagged San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D), whose office did not respond to a request for comment.

Twitter, which gutted its communications team in a round of mass layoffs after Musk took the helm, did not respond to a request for comment.

Shortly after Musk bought the company for $44 billion this fall and laid off an estimated half of employees, the new owner issued an ultimatum to staff, telling them to commit to an “extremely hardcore” operation or take severance.

“This will mean working long hours at high intensity,” he said. “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

Hundreds of Twitter employees refused to sign the pledge, leaving Twitter with even fewer employees.

The apparent installation of bedrooms at Twitter’s headquarters comes after a product manager at the company shared a photo of her sleeping on the floor of what appeared to be a meeting room. “When your team is pushing round-the-clock to make deadlines sometimes you #SleepWhereYouWork,” she said in reference to the photo of her wrapped in a sleeping bag.

“We are reaching out to building representatives so we can conduct a site inspection as part of our investigation,” said the Department of Building Inspection’s Hannan. “If we find suite 900 no longer meets the building code, we’ll issue a notice of violation, which will be posted to our website and at the site, just like all notices of violation,” referring to Twitter’s headquarters at 1355 Market Street.

“San Francisco treats all complaints and property owners the same,” he said, noting that anyone with “additional information or photos that would assist our investigation” could send them to the department by email.

Musk has advocated sleeping at work in the past and frequently referenced doing so himself at Tesla — the electric vehicle company he founded — during Model 3 production at the Fremont plant.

“The reason I sleep on the floor was not because I couldn’t go across the road and be at the hotel,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek in 2018. “It was because I wanted my circumstance to be worse than anyone else at the company on purpose.”

He reiterated the story at an investment conference in New York last month, according to Insider, saying he was “living in the factory in Fremont and the one in Nevada for three years straight.”

Just weeks after he took over Twitter, Musk tweeted to a then-employee that he would be sleeping at Twitter, Insider reported.

“Will be working & sleeping here until org is fixed,” he tweeted Nov. 14 in a now-deleted post, according to an archive of Musk’s deleted tweets.

Rachel Lerman contributed to this report.