Elon Musk begins mass layoffs with emailed firings to staff worldwide

Twitter began notifying employees affected by a far-reaching round of job cuts as new owner, Elon Musk, said the business experienced a “massive drop” in revenue due to advertisers withdrawing.

The week after the billionaire took over and promised sweeping changes, workers around the world were checking two email addresses to find out if they still had a job, according to an internal memo sent to employees. An email to their work account means they’ve been retained. A letter in their personal inbox means they’ve been fired.

Elon Musk arrives at Baron Investment Conference at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on Friday. Credit:

“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” said the email sent on Thursday, seen by Reuters.

Musk, the world’s richest person, is looking to cut around 3,700 Twitter staff, or about half the workforce, as he seeks to slash costs and impose a demanding new work ethic, according to internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week.

Staff who worked in engineering, communications, product and content curation were among those impacted by the layoffs, according to tweets from Twitter staff.

Musk has promised to restore free speech while preventing Twitter from descending into a “hellscape.” However, his reassurances have failed to prevent major advertisers from threatening to withdraw from the platform.

Volkswagen has recommended its brands to pause paid advertising on Twitter until further notice in the wake of Musk’s takeover, it said on Friday. Its comments echoed similar remarks from other firms, including General Motors and General Mills.

Musk blamed civil rights activists’ pressure on advertisers for a ”massive drop in revenue” in a tweet on Friday morning. “Extremely messed up! They’re (civil right groups) trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Speaking at an investors conference in New York on Friday, Musk called the activist pressure “an attack on the First Amendment.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some staff tweeted they lost access to work email and Slack channels before receiving an official notice, which they took as a sign they had been laid off.

Twitter’s “curation” team, which is responsible for “highlighting and contextualising the best events and stories that unfold on Twitter”, has been axed, employees said on the platform. The company’s communications team in India has also been laid off, according to a Twitter executive in Asia

A team that focused on research into how Twitter employed algorithms, an issue that was a priority for Musk, was also eliminated, according to a tweet from a former senior manager at Twitter.

Senior executives including vice president of engineering Arnaud Weber also said their goodbyes on Twitter on Friday: “Twitter still has a lot of unlocked potential but I’m proud of what we accomplished,” he tweeted.

Employees of Twitter Blue, the premium subscription that Musk is bolstering, were also let go. An employee with the handle “SillyRobin” who had indicated they were laid off, quote-tweeted Musk’s previous tweet saying Twitter Blue would include “paywall bypass” for certain publishers.

“Just to be clear, he fired the team working on this,” the employee said.

Some staff reported losing access to internal systems and being unable to message goodbyes to colleagues.

“Looks like I’m unemployed y’all. Just got remotely logged out of my work laptop and removed from Slack,” tweeted a user with the account @SBkcrn, whose profile is described as former senior community manager at Twitter.

Twitter hired consulting firm KPMG in some international markets, including in Asia, to assist with the layoffs, according to one person familiar with the manner.

Twitter employees vented their frustrations about the layoffs on the social network, using the hashtag #OneTeam.

User Rachel Bonn tweeted: “Last Thursday in the SF (San Francisco) office, really the last day Twitter was Twitter. 8 months pregnant and have a 9 month old. Just got cut off from laptop access.”

The company’s office in Piccadilly Circus, London, appeared deserted on Friday, with no employees in sight.

A member of security staff at Twitter’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Dublin told reporters that nobody was coming into the office on Friday and employees had been told to stay home.

A class action lawsuit was filed on Thursday against Twitter by its employees, who argued the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day advance notice, in violation of federal and California law.

Reuters and Bloomberg

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