Twitter CEO Elon Musk quickly apologized Tuesday for mocking Haraldur Thorleifsson after the Twitter employee asked if he was still employed.
Mr. Thorleifsson, who goes by Halli on Twitter, reached out late Monday after he and several other employees lost access to their work computers. Since he was receiving no communication from the company, he tweeted at Mr. Musk to ask if he had been fired.
Mr. Musk responded by asking Mr. Thorleifsson what he did at Twitter, to which Mr. Thorleifsson responded with a list of jobs and accomplishments. Mr. Musk apparently didn’t buy it, asking for more proof before posting a clip from the movie “Office Space”, implying Mr. Thorleifsson was of little use to the company.
“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm,” Mr. Musk replied after receiving criticism for his tweets.
Mr. Thorleifsson has muscular dystrophy, which makes it difficult to perform physical tasks. In a long tweet thread, he detailed his health struggles and took shots at the CEO.
“We grew fast and made money. I think that’s what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy? That I independently made my money, as opposed to, say, inherited an emerald mine,” he tweeted.
Mr. Thorleifsson started at Twitter in 2021 when the company acquired his start-up company, Ueno. Since then, on top of working part-time at Twitter, he has become well-known in his home country of Iceland for leading charity efforts to build wheelchair ramps in Reykjavik.
Mr. Musk walked back his sarcastic comments a few hours later.
“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation.” he tweeted. “It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful.”
According to reports, and Mr. Thorleifsson’s own comments, firing him would require a significant payout. Though the exact amount isn’t clear, Twitter executives deemed it financially dangerous to fire Mr. Thorleifsson since his name was on a “do not fire” list.
“Next up though is finding out if Twitter will pay me what they owe me per my contract.” Mr. Thorleifsson tweeted. “Or will @elonmusk, one of the richest people in the world, try to avoid paying?”