December 9, 2022

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After Elon Musk's ultimatum, Twitter employees start to walk out

After Elon Musk’s ultimatum, Twitter employees start to walk out

(Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to be leaving the beleaguered social media company after a warning from new owner Elon Musk that employees sign “long hours at a high volume” or quit.

In a survey about the workplace app Blind, which validates employees with work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, 42% of 180 respondents chose to answer “Make the choice out, I’m free!”

A quarter said they “reluctantly” chose to stay, and only 7% of respondents said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m a die-hard.”

Musk has been meeting with some senior employees to try to convince them to stay, said a current employee and a recently departed employee who is in touch with his colleagues at Twitter.

While it’s unclear how many employees have chosen to stay, the numbers highlight some employees’ reluctance to stay at a company where Musk has quickly fired half of its staff including senior management, and ruthlessly changed the culture to emphasize long hours and an intense pace.

The company has notified employees that it will close its offices and cut off access to the badge through Monday, according to two sources. A source said that security officers started kicking employees out of the office on Thursday evening.

Musk took to Twitter late Thursday and said he wasn’t worried about the resignations because “the best people are staying.”

Amidst the avalanche of resignations, the billionaire owner also added that Twitter had its highest ever usage rate.

“We’ve had another all-time high in Twitter usage…” he said in a tweet, without elaborating.

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Twitter, which lost several members of its contact team, did not respond to a request for comment.

platform stability

The departures include several engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, which raises questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of staff.

On Thursday evening, the version of the Twitter app used by employees began to slow down, according to a source familiar with the matter, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of crashing overnight.

“If it does indeed break, there will be no one left to fix things in many areas,” said the person, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

An image of Elon Musk and the Twitter logo are seen through a magnifier in this illustration taken on November 4, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Reports of Twitter outages rose sharply from fewer than 50 to about 350 reported Thursday night, according to Downdetector, which tracks website and app outages.

In a private conversation on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, roughly 40 said they had decided to leave, according to the former employee.

And in a private Slack group for current and former Twitter employees, about 360 people have joined a new channel called “Voluntary Layoffs,” said a person familiar with the Slack group.

A separate survey on Blind asked employees to estimate the percentage of people who would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of the respondents estimated that at least 50% of employees will leave.

Blue hearts and greeting emoticons flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms Thursday, marking the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees have said their goodbyes.

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By 6pm EST, more than two dozen Twitter employees across the US and Europe had announced their departures in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, though not every resignation could be independently verified.

Early Wednesday, Musk sent an email to Twitter employees, saying, “Going forward, to build the Twitter 2.0 breakthrough and achieve success in an increasingly competitive world, we’re going to need to be very tough.”

The email asked employees to click “Yes” if they wanted to continue. Those who did not respond by 5 p.m. ET Thursday would be deemed to have resigned and given a severance package, the email said.

As the deadline approached, the staff scrambled to figure out what to do.

One of the departing employees told Reuters that one of the teams within Twitter decided to make the move together and left the company.

Notable departures included Tess Rinearson, who was tasked with building a cryptocurrency team at Twitter. Rynerson tweeted a blue heart and saluting emoji.

In an apparent jab at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter bios of several of the departing engineers Thursday described themselves as “passionate engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”

As the resignations began, Musk let out a joke on Twitter.

How do you make a small fortune in social media? he tweeted. “Start with a big one.”

Additional reporting by Sheela Dang in Dallas, Hyunjoo-jin in San Francisco, and Paresh Dev in Oakland, California. Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Sam Holmes

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