Elon Musk apologizes to laid-off Twitter employee who was Iceland’s person of the year in 2022

‘I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful. He is considering remaining at Twitter.’

— Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter

Elon Musk appeared to have a change of heart over a laid-off Twitter employee, following a public exchange between the two that drew a firestorm of criticism against the billionaire.

Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson, from the Icelandic capital Reykjavík, took to Twitter over the weekend to determine his employment status after discovering he had been locked out of his Twitter account, appealing directly to CEO Musk.

“9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees. However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You’ve not answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” tweeted Thorleifsson.

Responding to Thorleifsson on Tuesday across Twitter, Musk proceeded to pepper him with questions about his role at and contributions to the company, an exchange that critics described as toxic (the full back-and-forth is summed up in this tweet by another ex–Twitter employee, Alex Cohen).

It was during his public dialogue with Musk that the Iceland native, described on an his personal website as having a genetic muscular atrophy called Dysferlinopathy, said Twitter’s human-resources department had confirmed to him that he was no longer employed. But Musk’s subsequent tweet drew even more ire:


Thorleifsson had told Musk that his disability had reached a point at which he couldn’t do “manual work without (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp.”

Later Tuesday, Musk tweeted an apology, saying he “did a videocall with Halli to figure out what’s real vs what I was told. It’s a long story. Better to talk to people than communicate via tweet.”

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Thorleifsson made no direct comment about whether Musk had been accurate in saying a Thorleifsson return to Twitter was on the table, joking: “Well, that’s enough about me.” He said his next move would be to open a restaurant:


Thorleifsson is viewed as something of a hero in Iceland, where he was named 2022 person of the year by several media outlets. He joined Twitter in 2021 after it bought out his company, the creative agency Ueno, for an undisclosed amount, and drew praise for choosing to take the payout in wages, over a more tax-friendly option of stocks or other financial assets.

“Halli, however, gladly paid the higher tax rate, having spoken publicly on many occasions about the benefits he has received from the Icelandic social system,” said the Icelandic Review in a Jan. 23 article, which described the many philanthropic pursuits of “Iceland’s benevolent tech titan.”

The articled noted Thorleifsson’s Ramp Up Iceland program, which has built hundreds of ramps across the country to help wheelchair-using persons such as himself gain greater access.

Some speculated that Musk’s change of heart may have come from the realization that the social-media company would be on the hook to pay out the remainder of Thorleifsson’s contract, due to the arrangement stipulating the sale price would be paid out in wages:


Twitter did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for further comment.

Musk has laid off thousands of workers since taking over at Twitter late last year, leaving roughly 2,000 from an original 7,500. He told a Morgan Stanley conference on Tuesday that Twitter could soon be cash-flow positive.

Following a recovery in shares of electric-car maker Tesla
of which he is CEO, Musk’s wealth has climbed $37.2 billion so far in 2023, making him the world’s second richest person, with a total net worth of $174 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-apologizes-to-disabled-ex-twitter-employee-who-was-voted-icelands-person-of-the-year-in-2022-ba0a3a8a?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo