Twitter's head of engineering resigns after disastrous DeSantis launch

Twitter’s head of engineering resigns a day after platform’s disastrous launch of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign announcement

  • Foad Dabiri announced on Thursday that he resigned
  • Wednesday saw a catastrophic attempt to launch DeSantis’ 2024 bid on Twitter
  • Elon Musk blamed the highly-embarrassing issue on ‘server strain’ 

Twitter’s head of engineering announced on Thursday that he was resigning, the day after the disastrous attempts to launch Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign on the platform.

Foad Dabiri tweeted: ‘After almost four incredible years at Twitter, I decided to leave the nest yesterday. 

‘The combination of the fantastic community, the impact it has, and its limitless potential sets Twitter apart.’

He admitted the October purchase of Twitter by Musk had made work ‘challenging’, with plenty of ‘outside noise’, but put a positive spin on the situation, saying he had learned enormously from the experience.

He did not go into detail about why he was leaving.

His company was left highly embarrassed by Wednesday night’s debacle, which saw Twitter unable to live-stream the audio of DeSantis’s campaign launch, and a hot mic discussion with Twitter’s owner Elon Musk and moderator David Sacks.

Musk and Sacks said the problems were due to ‘server strain’ and ‘melting the servers’, claiming that it was the largest event ever hosted online – but many pointed out that far larger events had been held without a hitch.

An initial 500,000 people logged on to try and listen, CNN reported; when the event eventually got underway, only half that number remained. 

Foad Dabiri, head of engineering at Twitter, resigned, he confirmed on Thursday

Ron DeSantis’s campaign launch on Wednesday was marred by technical problems at Twitter – a huge embarrassment to Elon Musk (left) and to DeSantis (right) himself 

Dabiri posted a lengthy thread, thanking his colleagues for their work and friendship.

‘What an extraordinary journey it has been,’ he wrote. 

‘To say it was challenging at the outset would be an understatement. The change was massive and rapid; we came through and emerged stronger, thanks to the remarkable team that held the fort. 

‘Working with @elonmusk has been highly educational, and it was enlightening to see how his principles and vision are shaping the future of this company.’

Dabiri studied for a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of California Los Angeles, and joined Google in 2011.

In 2014 he started health tech company Wanda, stepping down as CEO in April 2019. He joined Twitter three months later.

He said working there had been a remarkable experience.

‘Twitter is a place that defies comprehension,’ he wrote. 

‘It’s unique, peculiar, remarkable, and resilient, all thanks to the brilliant and capable individuals who have built and continue to shape it. 

‘It’s impossible to grasp the inner workings of this platform and what goes on on a daily basis unless you’ve been fortunate enough to experience it firsthand. 

‘So kudos to the team that, despite all the outside noise, keep going and going strong.’

Musk is yet to comment on his departure. 

Dabiri, who has a Ph.D. in computer science from UCLA, worked at Google before founding a health tech startup. He joined Twitter in July 2019

The launch of DeSantis’s campaign, which Musk had claimed was revolutionary, was due to take place on Wednesday at 6pm Eastern Time.

Yet Twitter was unable to cope with the traffic, and the servers repeatedly crashed.

The event was initially delayed by several minutes, and when it began the audio frequently cut out.

Moderator David Sacks said so many people were trying to listen that it was ‘melting the internet’.

By 6:30pm, the audio was down and DeSantis was yet to utter a word. They began again around 10 minutes later, with Sacks congratulating DeSantis for ‘breaking the internet’ and Musk saying it was refreshing not to have ‘canned speeches and teleprompters – it’s real.’

The internet erupted in mockery. 

‘Who here thinks #DeSantis would have been better off launching on Disney streaming? #Fail,’ tweeted one, referencing DeSantis’s bruising battle with the entertainment company.

One source told CNN that Twitter’s technology – its Spaces platform – was not built to host hundreds of thousands of listeners.

Spaces was described as a ‘prototype’ and ‘janky’ tool by a former Twitter employee familiar with its development.

‘Spaces was largely a prototype, not a finished product,’ the former employee told CNN. 

‘It’s a beta test that never ended.’

Musk himself tried to laugh off the fiasco.

‘Top story on Earth today,’ the 51-year-old South African mogul wrote at around 10pm on Wednesday. 

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