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Elon Musk begins mass layoffs of Twitter employees




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SAN FRANCISCO – Elon Musk is beginning mass layoffs at Twitter, sharply reducing the company’s workforce of 7,500 and beginning his wholesale overhaul of the company.

An email was sent out to company employees late Thursday notifying employees of plans to cut jobs, and informing them that by 9 a.m. Pacific time Friday, workers would receive an email with the subject line: “Your role on Twitter.”

Those who keep their jobs will be notified on the company’s e-mail. Those who lose them will be told via their personal email.

“Team, In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will be going through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” the email said. “We recognize that this will affect a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s future success.”

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Anyone who did not receive an email by 5:00 PM Pacific Time, was asked to follow up with the company. The offices will be closed on Friday.

“We recognize that this is an incredibly challenging experience to go through, whether you are under the influence or not,” the email continued. “We are grateful for your contributions to Twitter and for your patience as we go through this process.”

It was the Musk team’s first official company-wide communication with his staff.

Team,

In an effort to put Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday. We recognize that this will affect a number of people who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s future success.

Given the nature of our distributed workforce and our desire to inform affected individuals as quickly as possible, communication for this process will be via email. By 9am PST Friday the 4th. November, everyone will receive an individual email with the subject line: Your role on Twitter. Please check your email, including your spam folder.

If your employment is not affected, you will receive a notification via your Twitter email.

If your employment is affected, you will receive a notification with next steps via your personal email.

If you do not receive an email from twitter-hr@ by 5pm PST Friday the 4th. November, please email peoplequestions@twitter.com.

To help ensure the security of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data, our offices will be temporarily closed and all access to tags will be suspended. If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please go home.

We recognize that this is an incredibly challenging experience to go through, whether you are under the influence or not. Thank you for continuing to follow Twitter’s policy that prohibits you from discussing confidential company information on social media, with the press or elsewhere.

We are grateful for your contributions to Twitter and for your patience as we go through this process.

Thank you.

Twitter

— Email received by The Washington Post

In response to the email, dozens of Twitter employees posted a simple blue heart to say goodbye to their colleagues. The identical hearts were posted one after the other in a long roll on the company’s Slack.

Some workers had already begun losing access to internal systems such as the email and messaging service Slack, and those at the company described Thursday that they were seeing the fallout in real time.

“Numbers are going down [Slack] channels in the last hour, people are dropping like flies,” said one, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Even workers Musk had pulled into small teams to accelerate new product development over the past six days were let go, based on their access to internal systems being revoked. Another employee, speaking under the same condition, said they knew of four people who had been drawn into such a team who lost their jobs on Thursday. The employee also lost his.

On Twitter, employees tweeted that they were locked out of internal systems and assumed they were being laid off.

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Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Musk is under pressure to recoup an investment in a website he has admitted overpaying for. He took ownership of Twitter last week after striking a deal to buy the site for $44 billion this spring, before trying to close the deal and then renegotiate the deal as a trial date in a legal battle.

Analysts have put Twitter’s actual value at close to $25 billion. Musk has also taken out a loan of more than $12 billion to finance the purchase of the site, according to financial filings, putting pressure on him to cut costs and remain solvent — in the face of about $1 billion in annual interest payments on that debt.

Musk is the CEO of the new company. His deputies include his lawyer, Alex Spiro, investor David Sacks and Jared Birchall, who manages Musk’s family office.

The layoff decision came after a week-long review of Twitter, in which Musk and his deputy imposed a product freeze that halted development on Twitter’s internal projects, brought in Tesla engineers to review Twitter’s code, and left workers waiting in a vacuum of information about the company’s direction and management.

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Musk was expected to press ahead with plans to lay off about 50 percent of Twitter’s employees, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to openly discuss confidential plans.

Musk began his tenure at Twitter a week earlier by ousting former executives, including the CEO, CFO and general counsel.

The layoffs, which began Friday, were expected to affect sales, trust and security, marketing, product, engineering and legal teams — targeting the company across the board.

In addition to layoffs, Musk is also expected to make drastic cuts in other parts of the business — some so deep that employees are worried about the ability to keep Twitter going, according to internal documents seen by The Washington Post and people familiar with the plans, who said himself on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

In memos to engineers this week, executives asked workers to suggest ways to find at least $500 million in annual cuts across the company, according to the documents and the people. The cuts will include data centers and other software infrastructure needed to run the site, as well as targeting the contract workforce that performs content moderation for Twitter.

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Earlier Thursday, amid reports of the impending cuts, Twitter employees braced for what seemed like the inevitable, refreshing their internal tools like messaging apps to learn the latest — as the prospect of losing their jobs loomed over them.

But information remained sparse until the email arrived later in the day.

At Twitter’s offices, employees said tearful goodbyes, exchanged contact information and tried to make their documentation easily accessible to the employees who would remain.

They wanted to ensure that their colleagues could keep the site running in their absence.

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Before Musk took over the site, Twitter had already planned sweeping layoffs, which would have affected up to a quarter of its employees, according to people familiar with the plans. The Post previously reported that the company’s board planned to cut thousands of jobs as part of an effort to save $700 million in labor costs.

Will Oremus, Cat Zakrzewski, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Gerrit De Vynck contributed to this report.





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