From Layoff to Launch: Alphonzo Terrell’s Bold Move to Create Spill

A Twitter Departure Leads to Entrepreneurial Aspirations

In the tumultuous aftermath of Elon Musk’s seismic acquisition of Twitter, Alphonzo Terrell found himself among the 3,700 employees abruptly laid off from the social media giant. Rather than succumbing to the uncertainties of unemployment, Terrell swiftly embraced a proactive approach, turning a potentially devastating setback into a strategic springboard for entrepreneurial endeavors.

The notification of his departure, delivered via email just over a year ago, marked a pivotal moment for Terrell, who had spent three years at the helm of Twitter’s social and editorial teams. On November 4, 2022, a mere week after Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition, Terrell took to Twitter, declaring it was “time to build something new.” Shortly thereafter, he engaged in a pivotal conversation with DeVaris Brown, a friend and former colleague, setting the stage for their next venture.

Spill – Crafting a Unique Space in Social Media

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of social media, Terrell and Brown’s brainstorming session led to the rapid conceptualization of Spill within hours of their decision to embark on this entrepreneurial journey. Drawing from their extensive experience in online community-building, the duo aimed to address the common pitfalls afflicting traditional social media platforms. They envisioned Spill as more than just another app; it was to be a haven, embodying qualities often elusive in mainstream social media: positivity, safety, and inclusivity.

The name “Spill” was chosen deliberately, echoing the colloquial phrase “spill the tea,” commonly used to describe the act of sharing gossip or information. This choice reflects Spill’s mission, as outlined in its comprehensive community guidelines. The guidelines emphasize Spill’s commitment to inclusivity, with a strategic focus on amplifying the voices of historically marginalized communities, including Black and LGBTQ+ users. Terrell emphasizes that while Spill is open to everyone, its strategic emphasis on serving marginalized communities will enhance the overall user experience.

Navigating Challenges and Setting Spill Apart

Terrell’s insider perspective, gained during his tenure at Twitter, positions him to astutely identify and address the challenges faced by existing platforms. Elon Musk’s leadership at Twitter brought about policy updates, controversial statements, and changes in content moderation practices, leading to a reported surge in hate speech on the platform. In response, Terrell envisions Spill as a refuge, especially for the splintering Black Twitter community, offering a space where culture drivers, such as Black women and the queer community, can thrive without the drawbacks experienced elsewhere.

Spill is not positioned as a mere replication of Twitter or any existing platform. April Reign, equity advocate and #OscarsSoWhite creator, underscores this distinction, emphasizing that Spill is intentionally creating a foundation rather than attempting to be “Black Twitter 2.0.” The platform’s core thesis revolves around focusing on culture drivers, acknowledging and rewarding their contributions, and providing a safe and inclusive space for diverse voices.

Terrell acknowledges the challenges ahead, particularly in the wake of Musk’s influence on Twitter. However, he sees these challenges as opportunities for Spill to distinguish itself further. The platform is committed to staying focused on its mission, blocking out external noise, and remaining fundamentally different from other platforms attempting similar goals.

Twitter to deal with more rivals in 2023 developed by former employees

Twitter Twitter, one of the biggest social media platforms, began laying off thousands of workers around the end of 2022.

After the long-awaited acquisition, Elon Musk, the new owner and CEO, made the final call on whether to separate ways.

Musk pointed hundreds out the door with intentions to mold the business in his vision.

The decision has backfired on him and the social media site, though, as several ex-employees are starting their own services to compete with Twitter.


During the first round of layoffs at the social media firm in 2022, Sarah Oh lost her job as a human rights advisor.

She launched T2 alongside former Google and Twitter employee Gabor Cselle after being laid off as a result of the situation.

T2 is a social media platform with features that most users are accustomed to using that closely resembles Twitter.

It presently has a 280-character restriction and is in the beta testing stage.

The similarities are uncanny, although T2 is more concerned with security.

“We really do want to create an experience that allows people to share what they want to share without fearing risk of things like abuse and harassment,” said Oh.

“We feel like we’re really well positioned to deliver on that.”

Other rising competitors

Users weren’t too pleased with the new CEO’s following decisions after the Musk acquisition:

  • Slashing Twitter staff
  • Rethinking content moderation policies
  • Lifting bans on several suspended accounts

As a result, many consumers have been attracted to emerging brands like T2 and Spill by Sarah Oh and Gabor Cselle.

Another firm founded by ex-Twitter staff members, Spill, has the support of one of Twitter’s investors.

Meanwhile, former CEO Jack Dorsey plans to introduce Bluesky, an entirely unique service.

Unique approaches

While T2 is modeled after Twitter, some startups use a different approach.

For instance, the creators of Instagram announced their comeback with the launch of a new app called Artifact.

The software advertises itself as a “personalized news feed” that makes use of AI.

People compared the description to Musk’s social media business.

However, testing has found Artifact having similarities to news reader programs like Apple News.

Popular items from well-known media outlets and smaller blogs are displayed by Artifact in the main feed.

Depending on the users’ actions and chosen interests, different news is displayed.

Each firm seems to be utilizing the chance to solve Twitter user complaints.

An alternative, not a replacement

The Anti Software Software Club co-founder Jae Kaplan created Cohost, a text-based social networking site, last year.

Cohost is similar to Twitter.

Around June 2022, Cohost was introduced to the public after Musk made a bid to purchase Twitter.

“Something that we’ve heard a lot from people who are moving from Twitter, either partially or fully, is that it is just for them a nicer experience overall,” said Kaplan.

Following the Musk acquisition, Cohost experienced a spike in activity in November.

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80,000 new users were accepted within 48 hours.

“People have been referring to us when they do as a Twitter alternative,” said Kaplan.

“Which I think is an important distinction from a Twitter replacement.”

However, since Twitter has served as the major network and home for journalists, politicians, and celebrities, it is difficult to take their position.

Additionally, some people have been using the blue platform to monitor real-time news for years.

User activity

Although certain apps and services, like Cohost, are gaining popularity again, Twitter, which had more than 200 million daily active users in 2022, still has a much larger user base.

Despite barely having over 20,000 active members, Cohost claims to have 130,000 users.

T2 now has a five-digit waitlist, according to Sarah, and she anticipates that figure to rise.

The most prominent competitor to Twitter, Mastodon, surpassed 2.5 million subscribers in November 2022.

But the number has dropped to over 1.4 million members, suggesting that the site may suffer the same fate as previous providers.

Senior research analyst Tom Forte from D.A. Davidson spoke to the movement and said:

“The incumbent has the advantage of scale, and even in a situation where you have kind of a polarizing figure like Musk take over Twitter, people are realizing that the new platforms are not nearly as effective from a one-to-many, getting your message out there.”

“Despite the fact that there may be disgruntled consumers, they’re still tweeting.”

Twitter users

Elon Musk has bragged about the social media company’s increasing user base after the takeover in November.

Many users expressed skepticism and called to leave the site.

Additionally, it was hard to verify the claims since Musk turned the business private after the acquisition in order to avoid having to disclose user counts in quarterly financial filings.

“If people leave, where do they go? By all accounts, there is no platform right now that is able to take on the junction of Twitter, and nothing is really prepared for it,” said Karen North, a USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism clinical professor.

“No platform has the global user base, representing people from all walks of life the way that Twitter does.”

Withering urgency

The initial uproar and media coverage around the new CEO have reportedly subsided in the months since Elon Musk finalized the purchase.

The majority of users no longer feel the same urgency as in October, even if disagreement clearly still exists.

Mastodon’s creator, Eugen Rochko, isn’t very concerned, though.

“A platform cannot continue to go viral perpetually,” said Rochko.

“The cycle of media news and attention on social media just simply goes away after a while, but behind it leaves organic growth which is what we had before November, and which we still have now.”