Elon Musk has begun making deep cuts to Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce, according to a company-wide email, as the new owner warned of a “massive drop in revenue” following his $44bn buyout of the social media group.
As Musk embarks on the dramatic cost-cutting cull, he claimed on Friday that Twitter “has had a drop in revenue, due to massive activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could appease the move”.
Brands such as General Motors and General Mills have paused marketing on the platform since Musk took the helm, with some advertisers fearful he will allow a wave of hate speech and misinformation to spill on to the platform as he takes control.
The lay-offs come amid a new round of job cuts rippling through Silicon Valley as companies grapple with the macroeconomic slowdown. Twitter employees will be notified of their employment status by 9am Pacific time on Friday, according to an email seen by the Financial Times.
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” stated the email, which was received by staffers on Thursday.
“We recognise that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”
The email did not clarify the scale of the headcount reduction. However, Musk has up drawn plans to cut around 3,700 jobsor half of the workforce, according to two people familiar with the plans, who added that the final figure could change.
The move was met by a class-action lawsuit immediately from a small group of Twitter staffers, alleging that the company had violated labor laws by failing to give the required advance notice.
In an indication that the cuts had begun, two staffers said many employees lost access to their corporate Slack account and email on Thursday night.
Twitter workers who lost their jobs were told to expect an email in their personal inbox while those who were staying would be notified via their corporate email, according to the Twitter company-wide email.
Another employee said that some had received a second, vague email from Twitter after their work accounts were cut off, saying their role at the company had been “potentially impacted” by the cuts, without giving further details on severance or stock vesting.
Although Musk has not publicly discussed the lay-offs, Twitter itself lit up with employees announcing their departure, and colleagues often responding with a blue heart emoji, in a show of support. “I am officially out,” wrote Irene Font Peradejordi, a Twitter researcher.
I am officially out
It has been the biggest pleasure to be part of the Responsible ML research family at Twitter for the last year and a half 🏽 – more announcements to come.#TwitterLayoffs
— Irene Font Peradejordi 🎈 (@if_peradejordi) November 4, 2022
Ned Miles, who is Twitter’s UK lead for audience insights, according to his LinkedIn page, wrote: “I don’t have anything clever to say, I’m just devastated — personally, and for the magnificent culture and company we built together and is now gone. I love you all.”
The job losses will cap a chaotic first week for Twitter under Musk’s command, during which the world’s richest man overhauled the management team, asked staffers to work round the clock on new products and publicly brainstormed plans to shake up the business via his own Twitter account.
There has been turmoil inside Twitter for months after Musk first made his bid to buy the company, before trying to back out of the deal while publicly mocking its staff. After a fierce legal battle, the deal closed on Thursday last week, with Musk paying his original offer of $54.20 a share.
Musk has made no secret of his plans to overhaul Twitter, which has long been criticized for its sluggish pace of product innovation. He has previously stated he could cut jobs and costs to make Twitter “healthy” and last week tweeted: “There seem to be 10 people ‘managing’ for every one person coding.”
The email on Thursday said Twitter’s offices would temporarily close and all badge access would be suspended on Friday “to help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data”.
Staffers had responded earlier by flooding the social media company’s water cooler Slack channel, a messaging group meant to be the online version of chatting around the office water cooler, with emojis of a person saluting, according to another staffer.
Ahead of the email, Twitter employees on Blind, a forum for tech employees to post anonymously, shared their disillusionment with Musk’s management style.
One described current working conditions as a “nightmare scenario that won’t let up”, adding: “Please lay me off.” Another comment asked for the lay-offs to come quick: “It’s psychological torture at this point.”
Three plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit said in a legal filing on Thursday in the Northern District court of California that they had been “locked out of their [company] Twitter accounts”.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block the cuts, on behalf of themselves and “all similarly located employees” in the US, so that Twitter does not break the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employers to provide 60 days’ notice of a “mass lay-off” to affected employees.
The Twitter staffers allege Musk took a similar approach this summer when making cuts at Tesla, the electric carmaker led by the billionaire, leading to a lawsuit by employees there.
Additional reporting by Madhumita Murgia in London