Elon Musk Sacks More Liberal Twitter Staff Including Top Lieutenant

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

When Elon Musk took over Twitter last October, he declared that changes were in order to balance the losses of the company.

Musk bought a company with 7,500 employees and in November slashed the workforce with a firing of 3,700 people, saying, “There is no choice when the company is losing over $4mn/day.”

He defended the decision, saying that all of those who were fired were offered three months of severance, “50% more than legally required”.

At the time, Musk told employees in late November that no more plans for staff reductions were being made.

Musk flagged changes in November to turn Twitter into a more hardcore work environment, warning staff they will need to be on board or leave the company.

The billionaire has been shrewd and direct about the financial turmoil facing the company and made clear prior to his official acquisition that cost-cutting would be the number one priority, Daily Mail reported.

Employees at the time were told they needed to sign a pledge to be able to stay on in their roles.

Staff received an email that read: “If you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter, please click yes on the link below.” It linked to an online form, in which Musk told employees that if they did not sign by 5 pm Eastern time on Thursday they would get three months of severance pay.

Musk then began closing offices, revamping the platform itself adding and removing parts of the company, and reinstating those who had been suspended under previous Twitter censorship initiatives, always reiterating that fiscal balance was the number one focus.

But staff suspected another wave of cuts was coming this month after they suddenly lost access to their Slack channel last week. On Saturday night, some found they had been logged out of their emails and laptops. Indeed, another round of cuts was coming.

Twitter laid off another 200 employees, around 10 percent of its remaining workforce, the largest number of people at the company laid off since half the company was booted in November. The layoffs, announced Saturday, bring Twitter’s workforce down to under 2,000. Saturday’s cuts targeted product managers, data scientists and engineers.

On Sunday, Musk Tweeted: ‘Hope you have a good Sunday. First day of the rest of your life.’

The latest cuts primarily hit product managers including Esther Crawford, as well as data scientists and engineers who worked on machine learning and site reliability, according to the New York Times.

Esther Crawford

Crawford led the launch of paid subscription service Twitter Blue, and famously backed Musk’s ‘extremely hardcore’ Twitter 2.0 culture when he first took over, being pictured on the office floor in a sleeping bag with a sleeping mask in November 2022. Crawford had founded a small screen-sharing and video chat app called Squad, which Twitter acquired in 2020 along with Crawford herself.

Last fall, Crawford was pictured in her sleeping bag on the floor of her office.

Haraldur Thorleifsson, who created the design studio Ueno, which the company bought in 2021, was also removed from his position at Twitter.

Martijn de Kuijper, a senior project manager, said he found out about lay off after being locked out of his email account.

Some staff took to an anonymous platform for verified workers to detail the cuts as they unfolded at the weekend, Daily Mail noted.

‘People receive email at 2am on Saturday and access cut immediately. This will go down as one of the most extreme layoff in entire corporate history,’ read a post on Blind. The poster claimed layoffs hit the project management department the hardest and were spread across human relations, sales and marketing, engineering and finance.

Although those laid off were not happy with their access being blocked, it is common in the tech industry for layoffs to be preceded by device shutdown.

The dismissal of so much of the product team has led some to speculate that Musk is preparing to bring in entirely new teams. Musk has been announcing new initiatives since his acquisition of Twitter, and perhaps is going in a direction that needs new input.

Crawford had embraced Musk’s hard line for employees, which Musk had been quick to articulate was a reflection of how he himself had built his companies, many times sleeping on the floor of his office rather than waste money renting or buying a home and in an effort to put in the most hours possible.

Crawford took Musk’s explanations to heart, and a picture of Crawford laying on a brightly lit conference room floor went viral after last November with the hashtag #SleepWhereYouWork attached.

As news of her firing broke, Crawford expressed her feelings on the platform.

Rather than show the bitterness some of her colleagues expressed, she wrote: “The worst take you could have from watching me go all-in on Twitter 2.0 is that my optimism or hard work was a mistake. Those who jeer & mock are necessarily on the sidelines and not in the arena. I’m deeply proud of the team for building through so much noise & chaos.”


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