Elon Musk’s Twitter has also cut back on helping associations

Overnight, after the acquisition of Elon Musk, the associations saw their help from Twitter’s charity program cut off. Tech&Co met with some of them in San Francisco.

Black suit, sparkling blue sneakers and cap screwed on his head, Shaun Tai is used to talking to journalists. In the bay of San Francisco, in Oakland, he visited the site of the Bridgegoo organization, which was installed in a large fully equipped hangar. Sofas, screens, computers, everything is made to accommodate students who want to enter the tech sector.

“A few weeks ago we were going to have a meeting at Twitter headquarters that was canceled,” he slipped during the visit.

Because since 2013, Bridgegood has benefited from the Twitter for Good program that has provided financial, human and material assistance to associations. The program was completely cut off afterwards taking over Twitter by Elon Musk in October and Bridgegood is one of the associations affected.

At the height of the situation, came Shaun Tai, the co-founder of the association at Teslathe cars imagined by Elon Musk.

Founded in 2009, the association’s mission is to provide young people without access to the tech sector with the skills and resources needed to get jobs in Silicon Valley. To do this, the association organizes, for example, meetings with Twitter employees, including UX designers, to interact with students and give them advice.

The visit was canceled at the last minute

“Getting a job in tech is probably the hardest thing to do, so we’ve established connections with the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley,” Shaun Tai continued.

It all started in 2013 with Friday for Good which became Twitter for Good. The idea is that two or three times a year, Twitter employees participate in association workshops. “So far we’ve had a wonderful relationship with Twitter, from board membership to monetary grants to headquarters tours where we’ve taken 20 to 40 students,” Shaun Tai recalls.

But on November 18, not everything goes to plan. “We’re excited for our students to go on Twitter to see what it’s like to work at a big tech company. The same week we had an appointment, they emailed us to cancel our meeting. , because of what’s happening on Twitter right now,” lamented the co-founder. And for good reason, the entire Twitter for Good team was fired.

Bridgegood was founded in 2009 and is on a mission to empower young people who don't have access to the tech sector
Bridgegood was founded in 2009 and aims to provide young people with no access to the tech sector © Margaux Vulliet

When he found out that Elon Musk wanted to buy Twitter, he first thought it was a joke, “but when it became the truth, I think we were not sure what was in store for us and we were in confusion. After acquisition, I was hoping that the same team we worked with would remain in place but unfortunately that was not the case.

He immediately put himself in the students’ shoes. The latter have never had access to the tech world and really rely on an association like Bridgegood to bring them to these companies.

“Musk is focused on the product, not the community”

Since the event was canceled in November, the Bridgegood teams no longer have any contact on Twitter. “I even posted a tweet mentioning Elon Musk recently,” Shaun Tai joked. pointless

For him, “Elon Musk is more focused on the product and not on the community” especially around Twitter. “If Elon Musk is an entrepreneur, how do you convince him that helping the community, having diverse voices and other perspectives is good for business? That’s my goal at Bridegood.”

Shaun Tai wants to continue this partnership to give students the opportunity to discover tech jobs. The consequence is not so much financial for the association, it mainly refers to the loss of income for the beneficiaries. “Talking to employees is better than financial aid because technology changes every six months. I hope that Elon Musk will return the program to its base to make it better”, concluded Shaun Tai with hint of hope.

“We did not collect the keys to the premises”

Compass Family Services association experienced the same scenario. Its mission is to help homeless families in San Francisco find a stable situation. The Compass offices are located a stone’s throw from Twitter’s headquarters. Abbey Leonard, head of communications for the association, regretted the end of the Twitter for Good program: “he was a really special partner, which makes his loss difficult”.

For four years, Twitter has supported Compass through a program called NeighborNest. Through this partnership, Twitter has provided space that includes computers, computer labs, childcare space and meeting rooms. People can come to take part in computer courses, print documents, access the Internet, but also look for accommodation, work and benefit from assistance.

Compass areas welcome beneficiaries
Compass area welcomes beneficiaries © Margaux Vulliet

During the pandemic in 2020, Twitter temporarily closed the space. “We just made an agreement to reopen it in November, except we didn’t get the keys to the place back, and the whole project went up in smoke,” lamented the manager. The partnership is material, human, financial and administrative because Twitter is represented on the board of directors of the association.

Thinking after

On Twitter’s side, Karl Robillard, the person in charge of the Twitter for Good program, was also dismissed. The association therefore no longer has any contact with Twitter. “Even the HR we were talking to left. We wouldn’t even know who to talk to since everyone left.”

“Now we have to think about how we can provide technological assistance to these families. We have tried to find ways to continue to help them. We are currently looking for other partners but this is an established program, to find such a partnership will take time,” said Abbey Leonard.

On November 14, a special Twitter for Good week takes place as it does every six months. In this context, Twitter organizes activities between its employees and volunteers from associations including Compass. This edition is a bit special because it was organized by former fired Twitter employees.

The end of this partnership does not mean the end of the association. During the first week of December, Compass organized a collection of toys for the beneficiary families. The number of donations far exceeded the association’s expectations: “We are really grateful, the children will be very happy”, enthuses the manager.

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