Two emails sent on Thursday and Friday were supposed to seal the fate of Twitter employees whose jobs were at risk from billionaire Elon Musk’s whirlwind takeover of the social media giant.
The first email warned them that firings were imminent. The second one confirmed the rumours that 50 per cent of staff would lose their jobs.
Within days of taking over, Musk had culled two-thirds of the design department. He cited huge losses in the area of $6.3 million AUD a day.
For some, there was no phone call from management. In fact, the sackings were humiliating.
Emmanuel Cornet, a French engineer who had worked for the company for 18 months, told AFP that finding out was brutal.
“People would find out not by any phone call or any email, but just by seeing their work laptop automatically reboot and just to go blank,” he said on Friday.
But just as quickly as they were fired, employees have been begged to return. According to Bloomberg, dozens of staff have been contacted and told they were let go by mistake.
Others, more alarmingly, were “let go before management realised that their work and experience may be necessary to build the new features Musk envisions”, the report said.
“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $US4M/day,” Musk tweeted on Friday.
“It was a strange week,” said one former employee speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Executives were getting fired or were resigning, but there was basically no official communication until 5pm Thursday,” some seven days after the deal was made official.
The lay-off decision did not come as a surprise to employees — rumours had been growing — but they were shocked by how brutally it was carried out.
The Tesla chief executive had engineers from his flagship company parachute in to assess the work of Twitter developers, examining in particular the volume of code produced by each.
The news about lay-offs comes as Musk reportedly sets his sights on another of the world’s largest platforms — YouTube.
Musk wants to lure YouTube stars
The $44 billion acquisition of Twitter was a rollercoaster but now that Musk is in charge he is wasting no time outlining the company’s evolution.
His vision includes an attempt to lure YouTubers to Twitter where he hopes to pay them handsomely for their content.
Fortune reports that Musk thinks Twitter can “beat” the offering from YouTube.
Influencer Quinn Nelson tweeted over the weekend that YouTube “gives creators 55% of ad revenue.”
Musk responded: “We can beat that.”
Other improvements include search, Musk says.
“Search within Twitter reminds me of Infoseek in ‘98,” he tweeted over the weekend.
“That will also get a lot better pronto.”
The blue tick afforded to verified users of the platform is also undergoing a change.
On Saturday, Twitter announced that it will allow users to pay $7.99 a month for anyone to get the blue checkmark “just like the celebrities, companies and politicians you already follow”.
The fallout from Musk’s takeover is continuing to be felt. Former CEO Jack Dorsey, who resigned last year, tweeted over the weekend that he is sorry for what has become of the company.
“I realise many are angry with me,” he wrote.
“I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologise for that.
“Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient. They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment.
“I am grateful for, and love, everyone who has ever worked on Twitter. I don’t expect that to be mutual in this moment … or ever … and I understand.”
For six months, the platform’s employees were preparing for the possibility that the world’s richest man might take control.
He is preceded by his reputation, from the punishing work rates in his plants to his rejection of telecommuting, which is highly popular in the tech sector, and his absolutist vision of free speech, which his detractors claim can only lead to harassment, disinformation and a tolerance for hate speech.
In recent months, 700 employees left on their own, well before they knew which direction Musk would take the company.
— with AFP