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Former Cisco CEO weighs in on Elon Musk's Twitter leadership playbook

Former longtime Cisco CEO John Chambers has mixed emotions about how Elon Musk has led Twitter in his early days of owning the social media platform.

"Almost everything he did on the acquisition of Twitter, I would have recommended a playbook that was dramatically different," Chambers said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). "If you were modeling what not to do with an acquisition and modeling what not to do in terms of bringing your expenses back in line with your projected revenues, it probably had a lot of room for improvement."

Chambers explained that Musk should be showing more care toward Twitter employees instead of simply running roughshod throughout the organization.

"I think he missed an opportunity here, and I think part of their wounds will now be self-inflicted," Chambers said, though he added that he wouldn't "bet against" Musk getting Twitter right given his track record of success at SpaceX and Tesla.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk smiles during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk smiles at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Twitter has been in a state of chaos since Musk assumed control of the platform earlier this month.

Musk kicked off layoffs of roughly half of Twitter's 7,500-strong workforce several weeks ago as he seeks to reposition the social media platform for profitable growth after a $44 billion acquisition.

After these initial layoffs, Musk demanded employees sign a pledge to work under "extremely hardcore" conditions or else be canned. The ultimatum was met with a revolt among Twitter's remaining employees, causing Musk to soften his stance.

Musk has continued to lay off Twitter workers, including engineers on the day before Thanksgiving. The layoffs have reportedly left Twitter's key departments — notably its regulatory department — at dangerously low levels.

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Other top leaders agree that Musk's approach to running Twitter in his early days is unconventional at best.

"He's not starting something new," former Medtronic CEO Bill George said on Yahoo Finance Live. "This is an ongoing enterprise. Millions of people are posting every minute on that site. So I think he's got a tiger by the tail. He's a brilliant guy, but I think he's going to need help. And I would like to see him bring in a CEO because I'm worried about Tesla too."

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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