Nov 17 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to leave the beleaguered social media company following an ultimatum from new owner Elon Musk that employees report to “long, high-intensity hours” or leave.
In a poll on the workplace app Blind, which verifies employees through their work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, 42% of 1[ads1]80 people chose the answer of “Take the exit option, I’m free!”
A quarter said they had chosen to stay “reluctantly”, and only 7% of participants said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m hardcore”.
Musk met with some top employees to try to convince them to stay, said a current employee and a recently departed employee who are in touch with Twitter colleagues.
While it’s unclear how many employees have opted to stay, the numbers underscore the reluctance of some employees to remain at a company where Musk has rushed to fire half of his staff, including top management, and is ruthlessly changing its culture to emphasize long working days and an intense pace.
The company notified employees that it will close its offices and cut access to labels until Monday, according to two sources. Security officers have started kicking staff out of the office on Thursday evening, a source said.
Musk took to Twitter late Thursday to say he wasn’t worried about layoffs because “the best people stay.”
The billionaire owner, amid the flurry of layoffs, also added that Twitter has hit an all-time high in usage.
“And we just hit another all time high in Twitter usage…” he said in a tweet, without elaborating.
Twitter, which has lost many of its communications team members, did not respond to a request for comment.
THE STABILITY OF THE PLATFORM
The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service disruptions, raising questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of staff.
On Thursday night, the version of the Twitter app used by employees began to slow down, according to a source familiar with the matter, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of breaking overnight.
“If it breaks, there’s no one left to fix things in many areas,” said the person, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.
Reports of Twitter breaches spiked from less than 50 to about 350 reports Thursday night, according to website Downdetector, which tracks website and app breaches.
In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, nearly 40 said they had decided to leave, according to the former employee.
And in a private Slack group for Twitter’s current and former employees, about 360 people joined a new channel titled “voluntary layoffs,” a person with knowledge of the Slack group said.
A separate poll at Blind asked employees to estimate what percentage of people would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of those surveyed estimated that at least 50% of employees would quit.
Blue hearts and greeting emojis flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms on Thursday, the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees said goodbye.
By 6:00 p.m. Eastern, over two dozen Twitter employees across the United States and Europe had announced their departures in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, although each resignation could not be independently confirmed.
Early on Wednesday, Musk had emailed Twitter employees, saying: “To build a cutting-edge Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we must be extremely hardcore.”
The email asked staff to click “yes” if they wanted to stay. Those who did not respond by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday will be considered to have quit and given a severance package, the email says.
As the deadline approached, employees scrambled to figure out what to do.
One team at Twitter decided to take the plunge and leave the company, a departing employee told Reuters.
Notable departures included Tess Rinearson, who was tasked with building a cryptocurrency team at Twitter. Rinearson tweeted the blue heart greetings emoji.
In an apparent jab at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profiles of several departing engineers on Thursday described themselves as “softcore engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”
As the layoffs rolled in, Musk cracked a joke on Twitter.
“How to make a small fortune in social media?” he tweeted. “Start with a big one.”
Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Sam Holmes
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