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How Musk’s Twitter Layoffs Went Down—and What’s Next

Written by Kevin V. NguyenContributors Michaela NevilleUpdated at Nov. 05, 2022 • 9:01amPublished Nov. 04, 2022 • 4:47pm
A bicyclists passes Twitters office on Market Street in San Francisco. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

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Elon Musk’s gutting of Twitter began Thursday—a day earlier than announced—and it happened fast. 

A memo said employees were to expect a personalized email Friday, confirming their employment status and that its offices would be temporarily closed in order to ensure safety of “Twitter systems and customer data” during the transition. 

But the ax began to fall that night. 

Just a few hours after the memo was sent, waves of Twitter employees took to social media to report that they were already logged out of their work accounts—fired.

By the end of Friday, 784 workers in San Francisco and 106 employees in San Jose had been laid off, along with just under 100 people in Santa Monica, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Elon Musk | Photo by Carina Johansen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

‘Hasn’t addressed us once’

“[Musk] hasn’t addressed us once since he showed up to the office with that sink,” said an employee who survived the cuts but was speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution.

“We’re learning everything through leaks, meanwhile [Musk] keeps tweeting silly things about small talk and Mars,” the employee added.  

Although Twitter has not confirmed the exact details of its layoff, it is reported that the company has cut roughly half of its 7,500-person workforce. The speed and abruptness in which the cuts have happened have already opened a new can of legal worms for Musk. 

A timeline of Musk’s first week helming Twitter. | Video by Mike Kuba and Sophie Bearman

According to sources familiar with the details of severance packages, they include remaining employed by Twitter through Jan. 4, 2023—without access to any work systems.

Another anonymous employee who wanted to protect their severance payout told The Standard they received a layoff email at midnight, they described their final week at the company as “s—”.

“Our managers couldn’t even tell us anything,” they said. “Once we saw the memo, everybody just spent time saying their goodbyes and sending the salute emoji to one another in our Slack channel [named social-watercooler].”  

As the news broke, more and more “Tweeps” came forward online with their own stories about being let go.

The Twitter bird logo hangs on the side of the company’s office in San Francisco. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

‘It felt like home’

Smita Mittal Gupta—who until this week was the lead product manager for Twitter Blue, a paid-tier of the platform that Musk has already said that he wants to change to his own liking—posted Thursday night at 10:38 p.m. that she had been laid off. “It felt like home,” she wrote of the company.

A few hours before that, she also posted the salute emoji with the hashtag #OneTeam. The emoji has become the unofficial mascot of the Twitter-layoff saga.

Alongside Twitter Blue, other teams at Twitter such as its human rights, accessibility experience, communications and curation departments shared that they were either let go or dissolved as well. 

While they lamented their final day, many stopped short of criticizing Musk and instead focused on celebrating their work before his takeover:  

See Also

Advertisers Flee & Elections Chaos

On Friday morning, when layoff emails went out to nearly 4,000 employees, Musk announced that Twitter had a “massive drop in revenue” due to advertisers fleeing or halting their support of the platform. 

He tweeted, without any proof, that activist groups were pressuring advertisers in an effort to “destroy free speech in America.” 

Musk’s tweet came days after a reporter for the tech newsletter Morning Brew, reported that Interpublic Group, one of the world’s largest advertising firms—with clients such as American Express, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel and Spotify—urged its clients to pause their spending on Twitter amid content moderation concerns.  

On top of plummeting revenues, the Tweeps that remain will have their work cut out for them, as Musk has given a Nov. 7 deadline for his new paid verification project to go live—the day before this year’s Election Day.

Shortly after his “free speech” tweet, Musk told a New York City investment conference Friday morning to “please use Twitter.” 

Twitter is not the only tech firm in town slashing staff: The Standard’s Layoff Tracker has more here.

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Kevin V. Nguyen can be reached at [email protected]


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