Denigrated by her own boss in plain sight, “Halli’s” career isn’t just about Twitter. The employee, who has muscular dystrophy, is also a brilliant tech entrepreneur and avid tax payer.
Another prank from Elon Musk on Twitter. This time, in vain. On Tuesday, the billionaire, at the head of the social network for almost six months, made fun of one of his employees, Haraldur Thorleifsson, online. The latter questioned his boss the day before to find out whether he had been fired or not. The taunts flew on the side of Elon Musk, questioning in particular the disability of his employee, before being humiliated on his own. Haraldur Thorleifsson is not a worker at the bottom of the chain – and even so – and even ended up getting an apology from his boss after some well-meaning tweets.
Who is Haraldur Thorleifsson? Nicknamed “Halli”, the man is from Iceland. He has muscular dystrophy, forcing him to use a wheelchair for 20 years. If Elon Musk was quick to denigrate his work within the company, even accusing him of playing on his handicap, “Halli” did not let it go. And unfolded the story of his career in the world of technology.
In 2014, the young entrepreneur founded Ueno, a company that helps the biggest companies in the digital world. Among others, Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, Google, Paypal or the New York Times. “We’ve more or less worked for every major tech company.”he proudly details in his series of tweets in response to Elon Musk. In 2021, he decides to sell Ueno to Twitter and becomes an employee of the blue bird firm. But also one of Iceland’s greatest philanthropists.
When selling such large companies, payment is mostly in the form of shares, with the advantage of a lower tax rate. “Halli”, he decided to receive the price of the sale in the form of salary. As a result, his tax is levied in Iceland at a much higher rate (46% instead of 22%). The entrepreneur says he wants to support Iceland’s health and education system, having spoken publicly many times about the benefits he has received. Thanks to this decision, Halli would have paid half a billion in income taxes and other costs in Iceland since the sale, reported the Icelandic business magazine Viðskiptablaðið Last year. It then becomes Reykjavik’s biggest tax payerbringing him into the very select club of “tax kings”.
Praised by the Icelandic media and the general public, “Halli” is elected “person of the year” in Iceland in 2022. His generosity is not only based on money. Concerned by the problem of mobility for people in wheelchairs, the entrepreneur launched several projects in Iceland. “Römpum upp Ísland”, which stands for “Let’s Speed Up Iceland”, aimed to help people with reduced mobility find their way around shops and restaurants. In March 2021, he launched “Ramp Up Reykjavík”. The goal: to build wheelchair ramps in the Icelandic capital. The project is a success, and is quickly extended to the whole island. “Halli” aims to have 1,500 ramps installed by 2026.
Haraldur Thorleifsson is therefore a little more than an average employee. Maybe not for long: the man with 200,000 Twitter followers is considering a career change. “Halli” thus took advantage of the spotlight triggered by his exchange of tweets with Musk to announce the opening of his first restaurant in Reykjavik, Anna Jona, named after his mother. If he was invited by Elon Musk to resume his position within the company, Haraldur Thorleifsson has not yet confirmed his choice, even allowing himself to make his boss hang around, and to return the favor, in full view. of all.