Twitter’s Old Logos and Office Relics Find New Life as Home Decor

A worker dismantled a Twitter sign in San Francisco after Elon Musk renamed the company.
A worker dismantled a Twitter sign in San Francisco after Elon Musk renamed the company.

Summary

Items auctioned off after Elon Musk takeover wound up scattered around San Francisco Bay Area; data scientist is now proud parent of a 6-foot hashtag statue

SAN FRANCISCO—Bidding on a nearly 6-foot-tall statue of a hashtag that was being auctioned off from the longtime Twitter headquarters seemed like a fun idea to former Twitter data scientist Lauren Fratamico.

Over $500 later, Fratamico won the statue. Then she had to figure out what to do with it. She enlisted her boyfriend and parents and hired two movers. They managed to lug the hefty hashtag up three flights of stairs and situate the hardly subtle piece of decor in a corner of her apartment in San Francisco.

Fratamico, 32, was one of thousands of Twitter employees who were laid off shortly after Elon Musk acquired the social-media platform in late 2022. She wanted a relic of the company she’d loved working at, even though owning a giant hashtag isn’t exactly practical. When plugged in, it blazes with glittering lights. “It emits heat," Fratamico said. “It’s definitely warm and non-energy-efficient."

It’s also one of the many Twitter relics now scattered around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Musk hasn’t only renamed the company to X since taking over, but also jettisoned the jovial blue bird that was Twitter’s longtime logo.

Months after Musk’s takeover, the company began auctioning off hundreds of items. The offerings included mundane supplies such as desks and power strips and nicer perks such as kegerators and espresso machines. Also up for grabs was a bevy of Twitter-specific decor, including a wooden bird-shaped coffee table, a 34-foot-long optical-illusion art piece, and several bird, hashtag, and @ symbol signs and statues.

Insiders and curious onlookers fired off tweets and chattered about the sales. Many asked: Where did the items end up?

It turns out that several people who had worked at Twitter over the years were among those who snagged items from the sale. So did a podcast producer and frequent X poster who has applauded Musk’s handling of the social-media platform. The whereabouts of other items remain a mystery.

Mike Davidson, 49, was vice president of design at Twitter from 2012 to 2016. Perusing the online auction, he recognized a painting he remembered walking by at the office. It depicted a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama hugging, which Obama’s account had tweeted when he won re-election. The image was notable for breaking a record at the time as the most retweeted post in Twitter history.

Davidson said he paid just over $2,300 for the painting, and said it reminds him of the role Twitter played in historic moments.

“There were a lot of items on there that I thought were really cool, but I didn’t buy them because they were too Twitter," he added about the sale. “I couldn’t see myself putting up a giant Twitter logo in my den."

Jon Ball, 41, an engineering manager at Twitter from 2016 to 2019, got two phone-conferencing systems for his medical-technology company for about $250 each from the sale.

He also made a less practical purchase. Ball doled out about $500 for a roughly 3-foot-tall hashtag statue, which now sits in his home office north of San Francisco. He sometimes shows it off during video calls. “I think I got a pretty decent deal on that," he said. “My wife doesn’t think so."

Ball’s wife, Vina Vongvarotai, 41, said she had Covid and was isolating from the rest of the family at the time. “I’m not sure we would have the hashtag if I wasn’t sick," she said. “I think he took a good opportunity to have fun with the auction." She said she still wouldn’t pay that much for it.

Omose Ogala, 28, who worked at Twitter as an engineer from 2017 to 2022, won from the auction a painting of Ellen DeGeneres’s famous Oscar selfie.

That photo, taken in 2014, quickly became the most retweeted post ever at the time, breaking the record held by the image of the Obamas hugging. The same artist, Debbie Faas, made both paintings.

Ogala has been house-hunting in the New York City area. “I’m trying to find the right house that will suit me, but then also that will be perfect to hang the photo up," he said.

There’s a long history of people coveting relics of corporate dramas. Some two decades ago, after the Enron Corp. scandal led to the company collapsing into bankruptcy in 2001, equipment and other Enron-related items were auctioned off. One of the most recognizable items, a big tilted “E" sign, went for $44,000.

Ad executive Lou Congelio, 68, got a different Enron sign for $8,500. He displayed it at the office of his advertising agency in Houston.

After a few years, Congelio said he got a “mysterious call" from someone representing an unnamed buyer in New York. He sold the sign for $35,000. “I’d love to still have it," he said. But he added: “When somebody offers you thirty-five thousand for something that you only paid eighty-five hundred for, you’d be kind of dumb not to at least look at the offer."

After Silicon Valley Bank failed in March 2023, people clamored for company swag, spurring a rash of online listings for items like an SVB-branded blanket or a cheese board.

Alex Lorusso, an executive producer for a right-leaning podcast whose account was reinstated after Musk’s acquisition, said on X that he snagged from the post-acquisition sales a bird-shaped sign and an “@" sign from Twitter’s headquarters.

In December, Fratamico, the former Twitter data scientist, threw a hashtag-themed party in place of a typical holiday gathering. She dubbed the occasion “#party," decorated the cocktail menu with hashtag icons, and turned on her giant hashtag souvenir so guests could admire its sparkling marquee lights. “It definitely added color," she said.

Fratamico’s boyfriend, Will Bertelsen, 33, said the statue looks great in the apartment. He also said that although he’d known the statue would be big, seeing it in person when they went to move it was still something. “Reality sunk in."

Twitter’s signs have become a symbol of the chaotic rebrand from Twitter to X. One weekend in July, Musk abruptly announced the platform’s new name in a series of tweets. Soon after, workers arrived with a crane to dismantle signage outside the building.

Matt Graves, 49, worked as a communications director at Twitter from 2010 to 2012. His wife, Adi Wise, 45, also worked at Twitter for several years starting in 2012, though they never met at work. The couple successfully bid for a mixed-media piece from Twitter’s headquarters by artist Andre Petterson showing an erupting typewriter.

“It’d be like if somebody you love went bankrupt and then you’re bidding on the remains," Graves said. “There’s some sadness there."

Many onetime employees are still curious to know where some of the more unusual pieces from their former office are now, such as a large, cabinlike structure from the fifth floor of Twitter’s headquarters. “If anyone wants to buy a vintage 1800-era log cabin (no, really) that served as a meeting room at the Twoffice, it can be yours for $800," Graves posted on X at one point, with a link to the listing. What happened to it couldn’t be learned.

Write to Alexa Corse at alexa.corse@wsj.com

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