Some 3,700 jobs – half the firm’s workforce – are likely to be cut at Twitter, as new chief executive Elon Musk makes his mark on the social media company.
In an announcement to staff yesterday, the social media company said it will inform employees by 9:00am Pacific time (4:00pm GMT) today about whether they will be laid off. The email will carry the subject “Your Role at Twitter”.
The announcement said: “In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday.”
Twitter also said that its offices will be temporarily closed and all staff access will be suspended in order “to help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data”.
“We recognise this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward,” it added.
On 5 November tweeted that the company had experienced “a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
It has also been reported that Musk, CEO of Tesla, is looking to reverse Twitter’s existing work-from-anywhere policy and will require employees to work from offices with some exceptions.
In the UK, where Twitter employs up to 500 people, Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, which represents tech workers, said: “Twitter is treating its people appallingly. The government must make clear to Twitter’s new owners that we won’t accept a digital P&O and that no one is above the law in the UK, including big tech barons.”
But there was backing for Musk’s actions from one of Twitter’s investors: Changpeng Zhao, the chief executive and founder of cryptocurrency firm Binance. He said “a slimmer workforce would make more sense” at the social media platform.
Zhao told the annual web summit in Lisbon: “I do feel that Twitter, given the 7,500 people they have, the amount of new features that have been rolled out is quite slow.”
He added, in reference to technical features such as an edit function that Twitter lacks, that: “Very simple things haven’t been really implemented very quickly, given the large workforce.”
Musk completed his takeover of Twitter for $44bn earlier this week, immediately firing chief executive Parag Agrawal, finance chief Ned Segal, and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. He also dissolved the board of directors, temporarily making himself the sole member of the board.
It has been reported that on Musk’s first day in charge, on Monday, the firm’s software engineers were asked to print out their last 30 days of work and bring it to a code review, where one of the Tesla engineers would assess their skill.
Tech news website The Verge has reported that the software engineers only have until 7 November to launch a new verification scheme for Twitter users prepared to pay $20 a month or face being fired. Employees were only told of the project on 30 October.
Looks like I’m unemployed y’all. Just got remotely logged out of my work laptop and removed from Slack. #OneTeam forever. Loved you all so much.
So sad it had to end this way 💔
— Simon Balmain (@SBkcrn) November 4, 2022
The first round of layoffs will impact almost all of Twitter’s departments and is expected to specifically impact sales, product, engineering, legal, and trust and safety in the coming days.
Some Twitter staff had taken to its own social media platform under the hashtag #OneTeam to say they had been blocked from their laptops and the company’s Slack platform.
California’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) legislation requires employers to give a 60-day notice to the affected employees and both state and local representatives before a plant closing or mass layoff.
The company has offices in London and Manchester but it is unknown exactly how many staff are employed in the UK. Twitter UK’s last gender pay gap report said it had 250-499 employees in April 2021.
Mike Tremeer, employment partner at City law firm, Fladgate, echoed Clancy’s comment and said the Twitter redundancy process had echoes of the P&O Ferries sackings back in March. He said the process was “painful to watch; offices closed, employees apparently finding out if they will be made redundant by email en masse (seemingly without any consultation) and some already locked out of the company systems in advance of that promised email (not a good sign).
“Until P&O this sort of approach was associated with territories with weak employee protections – not the UK. Is it something we will see more of in the future?
“Other than efficiency (making the changes you want as quickly as possible), it’s difficult to see the rationale for it. It certainly seems to be a real backwards step in terms of employee relations and dignity.
Additional reporting by Rob Moss.