Since the arrival of Elon Musk at the helm of Twitter, the social network seems blocked in the middle of a storm. After laying off half of the Californian group’s 7,500 employees, the new boss for three weeks asked the surviving employees to choose between giving themselves “fully, unconditionally” or leaving. And the number of employees choosing the second option is multiplying.
“I may be exceptional, but […] I’m not hardcore,” tweeted Andrea Horst, whose LinkedIn profile still reads “Supply Chain Manager (Survivor) at Twitter.” She added the hashtag “
According to several American media, hundreds of employees have chosen to leave. Half of the Californian group’s 7,500 employees were already laid off two weeks ago by the multi-billionaire, and some 700 employees had already resigned during the summer, even before being sure that the acquisition would take place. Thursday evening, November 17, many users of the social network, in particular ex-collaborators, journalists and analysts, therefore wondered if the end of Twitter would be near.
“And…we just hit a new peak in Twitter usage, LOL,” quipped Elon Musk, who bought the platform for $44 billion on Oct. 27. He also tweeted a skull and crossbones pirate flag and a meme (parody image), showing a man with a bluebird face, posing in front of a tomb also masked with a bluebird, as if Twitter was hilariously witnessing his own funeral.
On Thursday afternoon, Twitter warned all employees that the company’s buildings were temporarily closed and inaccessible, even with a badge, according to an internal letter published by several American media. “The offices will reopen on Monday, November 21. Thank you for your flexibility. Please continue to abide by the House Rules by refraining from discussing confidential information on social media, with the press or elsewhere,” the message read.
On Wednesday, November 16, Elon Musk asked social network employees individually to commit to “working long hours at high intensity” “to build a revolutionary Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world”. “Only an exceptional performance will be worth a sufficient mark”, he specified in this internal letter consulted by Agence France-Presse (AFP). Employees had until Thursday afternoon to click on the “yes” box, or they would have to leave Twitter with compensation equivalent to three months’ salary. A method that clashes even in the United States, where labor law is less protective of employees than in many developed countries.
On Thursday evening, anti-Elon Musk messages were projected onto the facade of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, right next to the logo, including “Elon Musk, shut up,” “Stop toxic Twitter,” or “En before going bankrupt,” according to photos by Gia Vang, a reporter for the local NBC station.
Dozens of current and especially past employees gathered Thursday evening in a “Spaces”, the platform’s audio lounges, to support each other and reminisce. Employees who have chosen to stay have spoken of their unwavering attachment to the social network and their desire to see it survive and even be reborn. “I have no words, I’m just grateful to be able to say that I managed to get my dream job and accomplish more than I ever thought possible. It’s been a great ride,” Deanna Hines-Glasgow, an “Ex Tweep,” the nickname for Twitter employees, tweeted Thursday.
“To all the Tweeps who decided today would be their last day: thank you for being amazing colleagues through the ups and downs. I can’t wait to see what you do next,” said Esther Crawford, the platform’s director of product development, one of the few executives who hasn’t resigned or been fired, and who still publicly supports the whimsical leader.
“Kudos to all Twitter workers. You have built a vital place of connection and you deserved so much better. […] Thank you,” tweeted Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.