Elon Musk begins layoffs at Twitter
The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk will begin laying off Twitter employees Friday, according to a companywide email, culling the social media service’s 7,500-person workforce a little over a week after completing his blockbuster buyout.
Twitter employees were notified in the email that the layoffs were set to begin, according to a copy of the message seen by The New York Times. Workers were instructed to go home and not go to the offices Friday as the cuts proceeded. The message, which came from a generic address and was signed “Twitter,” did not detail the total number of layoffs.
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global work force,” the email said. “We recognize that 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.”
About half of Twitter’s workers appeared set to lose their jobs, according to previous internal messages and an investor, although the final count may take time to become clear. As the email landed in employee inboxes Thursday evening, workers posted salute emojis and heart emojis in Slack, the messaging service.
Musk completed his $44 billion purchase of Twitter on Oct. 27 and immediately fired its CEO and other top managers. More executives have since resigned or were let go, while managers were asked to draw up lists of high- and low-performing employees, likely with an eye toward job cuts. Musk also brought in more than 50 engineers and employees from his other companies, including electric carmaker Tesla, to review the layoff lists of Twitter workers and the social platform’s technology.ADVERTISING
The world’s richest man faces pressure to make Twitter work financially. The deal was the largest leveraged buyout of a technology company in history. The billionaire also loaded about $13 billion in debt on Twitter for the acquisition and is on the hook to pay about $1 billion a year in interest payments. But Twitter has often lost money, and its cash flow is not robust. Musk may benefit from cutting costs so the company is less expensive to operate.
Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Twitter’s layoffs are unlikely to be the largest in the tech industry by total number. Computer manufacturer HP cut 24,600 of its employees, about 7.5%, in 2008. It later cut tens of thousands more, reaching about 30% of its workforce.
More recently, other tech companies have slashed jobs. On Thursday, Lyft said it would lay off 13%, or about 650, of its 5,000 employees. Stripe, a payment processing platform, said it would cut 14% of its jobs, or roughly 1,100.
Jesse Lehrich, a founder of Accountable Tech, an industry advocacy organization, said the layoffs amounted to an arbitrary purge just days before the midterm elections Tuesday.
“There is nothing visionary or innovative about summarily firing” workers by email, he said, especially people who have “specialized expertise and deep institutional knowledge” and before Musk “even seems to have a basic grasp of the business.”
While federal and California laws require companies to provide advance notice of mass layoffs, it was not clear whether Musk had done so. A spokesperson for California’s Employment Development Department said Thursday evening that it had received no such notices from Twitter, which is based in San Francisco and is expected to report mass layoffs to the agency.
Under the terms of his deal to acquire Twitter, Musk agreed to keep employee compensation and benefits the same for one year. Twitter workers are typically paid at least two months’ salary and the cash value of equity they were scheduled to receive within three months of a layoff date, according to an internal benefits summary seen by the Times.