Chris Bakke: The Art of Shitposting and Working with Elon Musk at X
Plus how many engineers and PMs X still has and how to get hired in this tough market
Today, I want to share an interview with Chris Bakke, product lead at Twitter/X.
Chris Bakke has sold two companies for $100M+ and grew to 250K+ followers through shitposting. He also works directly with Elon Musk at X. I spoke to Chris about:
The art of shitposting
What it’s like working with Elon at X
How to stand out in today’s tough jobs market
Chris is hilarious and you won’t be able to guess how many PMs X still has.
Let’s dive in.
The art of shitposting
Welcome Chris! Let’s start by talking about shitposting. Why do you do it?
Shitposting is a great outlet for all the sarcastic thoughts in my head.
It’s also a great way to attract customers to your company. Selling requires getting people’s attention and telling a good story. Shitposting is a great way to get people’s attention in tech.
For example, when I was running Laskie, I used my shitpost to attract founders and hiring managers to our product. So:
I shitpost because it’s fun and because it drives business.
Why do you think people love shitposts so much on Twitter/X?
X has always been the town square where news breaks. When that happens, there’s usually some funny shitpost that can be created from a trending topic or someone’s cringe thread.
Do you have a process for coming up with great shitposts?
Jerry Seinfeld once said:
The fact that you’re all at this comedy class shows me that none of you will become comedians.
You can’t sell a masterclass on shitposting, but here’s some advice:
Post consistently. It takes time to build your sense of humor.
Know who you’re targeting. Think about who will find your content funny.
Remix content. If you see a trending topic or cringe post, remix it.
I don’t have a process otherwise. I don’t schedule posts or have any drafts. I just see some content, remix it, and try not to overthink the process.
Let’s use a specific example — you have this great shitpost about a dry cleaner using AI to lose money that got 6.7M views. How did you come up with this?
The world is a funny place if you pay attention.
This post came from one of those days when I was:
Talking to my friend who runs dry cleaning shops in Pennsylvania.
Browsing cringe AI posts like “99 ways that ChatGPT will change your life.”
So I decided to remix both things into a shitpost. You know:
99% of the advice from tech sounds insane to regular people.
For example, I cringe when people declare that “ChatGPT is the end of jobs.” Maybe it’s the end of your job. But how will ChatGPT replace a dry cleaner business or a home-care nurse?
Many of my best shitposts are inspired by my kids or normal friends. I find a way to weave what they do with cold plunges, AI newsletters, ChatGPT, product managers, work from home, and all these tech trends.
Great shitpost = 80% real life observation + 20% cringe
You created so many great shitposts during Sam Altman’s departure and return to OpenAI. What was going through your mind then?
To me, that was the shitpost superbowl.
It had incredible characters (a bumbling board, Adam D’Angelo, Sam Altman, YCombinator, Elon) and was funny through every twist and turn.
I was actually on vacation when it went down but I treated it like my mission to shitpost about it. I told my wife and kids that I just had to apply my sick and twisted mind to an event like this.
Some people think that shitposting shows employers that you’re not serious and can hurt your job prospects. How do you feel about that?
I wouldn’t want to work at companies that don’t have a sense of humor anyway. There’s this saying that:
People go to LinkedIn to get hired and to X to get fired.
There’s some truth to that, but I think shitposting is different. I try to be self-deprecating in my shitposts. I sometimes even post about bad and funny things happening at X, like how we’re dealing with advertisers. You know:
I actually met Elon through my shitposts.
He followed me, then we met at a dinner, and then he bought my company. We’ve also hired other great candidates to X because we liked their content and ideas.
Shitposting can be risky, but I think it’s a net positive.
Makes sense. After all, why should memes and jokes be only limited to the workplace?
Exactly. Why would you want to work in a humorless environment?
Inside how X builds products and what it’s like working with Elon Musk
Let’s talk about X and working with Elon next. How do you like the company so far?
I love our culture of doing more with less.
We only have 200-300 engineers but we manage a massive amount of traffic.
We have almost no management layers so we can move incredibly fast.
Everyone contributes to the work regardless of their job title.
I think it’s a culture for people who enjoy autonomy and challenging work.
How many PMs do you have for 200-300 engineers?
To my knowledge, we have 6 people in product.
I think the best PMs also have strong marketing, engineering, or design skills.
Each PM leads a functional area like Community Notes, Hiring, and Payments. It’s a lean but effective team and we all put in the work.
How does the PM team work with Elon?
We have weekly product reviews with Elon. That’s about the only time that I’ve ever built a deck here. We present a few slides to him, with each engineer responsible for their section.
Elon will also often DM me screenshots of the app asking why it looks the way it does or why we chose this particular direction.
Does Elon give you and the team autonomy to make your own decisions?
Elon is super aware of his blind posts. I’ll give you three examples:
For our hiring product, Elon finds LinkedIn fascinating but has never used it before buying my company. He sees a massive opportunity to disrupt this industry but is otherwise mostly hands-off.
For our audio Spaces and video products, Elon likes to bring people from companies like TikTok and Meta who’ve done this before to figure it out.
For spam and payments, Elon is much more hands-on due to his personal experience and expertise.
What’s the most surprising thing that you learned from working with Elon?