“We’re going to start the difficult process of downsizing our global workforce on Friday,” Twitter told its employees on Thursday in an e-mail accessed by AFP, confirming rumours that have been circulating since Elon Musk bought out the social network a week ago.
The notice says that all employees will receive information by Friday morning, at the opening time of the offices in California, but does not specify how many people will be affected.
According to the Washington Post, the new leader has planned to thank about 50% of the approximately 7,500 employees.
“We recognize that a number of individuals who have made significant contributions to Twitter will be affected, but this action is, unfortunately, necessary to ensure the company’s success in the future,” the company told employees.
Tesla and SpaceX’s boss bought Twitter for $44 billion and took control of it last Thursday, after six months of a very hectic acquisition.
He immediately dissolved the board of directors, fired the executive director and other senior officials, and launched major projects with objectives to be met quickly. Several engineers reported having to sleep on the spot some nights.
Elon Musk, who first renamed himself “Chief Twit” (“twit” meaning “moron” in English), then “switchboard operator of the Twitter hotline”, had Tesla developers come as early as Friday to review the work of Twitter employees.
Many engineers had to print the last lines of code they had produced, according to an employee who spoke anonymously. Lists comparing computer scientists with each other, mainly on the basis of production volume, were also drawn up, according to another employee.
– Complaints from former employees –
On the night of Thursday to Friday, a group of five recently dismissed employees filed a complaint against Twitter on the grounds that the group had not complied with the 60-day notification period provided by US law in the event of mass dismissals (Warn Act), according to the text of the complaint consulted by AFP.
“The current dismissal process is a farce and a shame. Tesla minions make decisions about people they know nothing about except the number of lines of code produced. This is completely absurd,” tweeted Taylor Leese, the director of a team of engineers who said he had been fired on Sunday.
‘The mass layoffs have not yet taken place and yet everyone on Twitter has already lost their job. The work that was described in their contract, the work that they liked, the work with all the colleagues that they got to know and appreciate,’ said Eli Schutze, a London-based Twitter computer scientist, according to her profile.
The measure confirms the widely anticipated change in corporate culture for the California company under Elon Musk.
Several executives resigned on their own this week and more than 700 people have already left this summer, voluntarily, according to one employee.
The whimsical entrepreneur advocates a vision of freedom of expression that requires relaxing the rules of moderation of the platform’s content, in disagreement with the approach of many employees, users and NGOs.
Some employees were also worried that they would no longer be able to work from home – Elon Musk disapproves of teleworking – or that they would have to keep up with Tesla.
“If you are not concerned, you will receive a notification on your Twitter email address. If you are assigned, you will receive a notification with the next steps on your personal email”, says the message sent on Thursday, reminding everyone to check their mailbox “including your spam”.
– “Already imperfect system” –
The expected job cuts at Twitter are also part of a global phenomenon in the technology sector. On Thursday, two Silicon Valley companies, Stripe and Lyft, reported significant layoffs while Amazon froze hiring in its offices.
Twitter, like other major platforms whose business model is based on advertising, is also experiencing an economic crisis that weighs on advertisers’ budgets.
Especially since, unlike the giants’ Meta (Facebook, Instagram) and Google, Twitter has never managed to make substantial profits.
The platform with some 230 million users has built its influence on the frequent attendance of political, cultural and sports personalities. But it lacks the necessary resources to meet its many legal, ethical and technical responsibilities.
The network ‘has an infinite number of safety and security problems,’ remarked Rebekah Tromble, professor at George Washington University last Friday. ‘My worst fear at this point is a massive redundancy plan or mass resignations. This would set back an already imperfect system. ‘