The short: Elon Musk wiped out over 3000 of Twitter’s 7500 workforce in massive layoffs reminiscent of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
Rundown of events following Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.
- Senior executives left the company through a combination of resignations and firings.
- Musk dissolved the board of directors.
- Musk instructed Twitter teams to cut funding for cloud and server services to save $1 billion annually.
- Major advertisers and brands like General Motors and General Mills suspended ads on the platform.
- Twitter announced plans to charge $8 monthly as part of its paid model.
- Elon Musk laid off half of the company’s workforce.
Tensions, layoffs, catharsis: On Thursday, Twitter employees received an inevitable company-wide message informing them there would be mass layoffs, and those affected would be notified via personal mail, which read:
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 employees knew this would happen but were unaware of the scale. Dozens of employees tweeted about being fired, with some only realising this after suddenly losing access to their Twitter mail and Slack channel.
Fired employees were told:
It is with regret that we write to inform you that your role at Twitter has been impacted.
The emails came with a cheeky “Twitter” signature and “Team” as the sender – with employees expressing disappointment about Musk not having the guts to sign the emails in his name. The termination emails provided more information about severance packages, continuous salary payments, and health insurance coverage until January 4th.
Some departments were hit harder than others – ethical AI, communications, marketing, partnerships, algorithms, curation and human rights teams were gutted.
However, the content moderation team was least affected since Musk desperately needs to convince advertisers that Twitter will not relax on its content moderation policies.
Before losing access to internal slack channels, Twitter employees flooded the platform and Twitter with blue hearts, salute emojis, and tweets using the hashtags #OneTeam and #LoveWhereYouWorked – an ode to the phrase employees used to praise the workplace’s culture.
Class actions: A group of current and former staff filed a class action complaint suing Twitter for failing to give a 60-day notice before mass layoffs in a company of its size, thereby violating the federal and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).
But…. Musk’s expensive lawyers could argue that since the official termination date is January 4th, the employees got a 60-day notice – despite them getting their access cut off on Friday – which the lawyers could further argue is to protect the company from internal sabotage if they had continued access.
The penalties for violating the WARN Act is the payment of back pay and benefits to employees, which is covered by the three-month severance pay offering. Musk claimed his severance package was above legal requirements, which mandates two months of severance pay.
So, Musk might win the lawsuit.
Africa’s hurt, too: Africa was not left out of the madness. Twitter fired all the employees in Twitter’s African headquarters in Accra, Ghana, just three days after it opened.
Twitter began hiring in Africa about a year ago, but the physical office officially opened on Tuesday. A few days ago, Twitter Ghana’s Senior Partner Manager tweeted ecstatically about the official opening
on Tuesday and followed it up with news of his exit on Friday
Musk speaks out:
Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.
Final thoughts: There are moral and business arguments for Musk’s Twitter decisions. From a business perspective, I understand cutting costs for a company’s survival.
But from a moral-treat-humans-decently-perspective, I’m giving props to Twitter employees for reclaiming their dignity from a process that tried to strip them of it. I have never seen a more callous layoff process against employees who dedicated so much to their work.