After Elon Musk’s ultimatum, Twitter employees start exiting

Nov 17 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to be leaving the embattled social media company after an ultimatum from new owner Elon Musk that employees sign up for “long, high-intensity hours,” or quit.

In a survey of the workplace app Blind, which verifies employees via their work email address and allows them to share information anonymously, 42% of 180 people chose the answer to “Take the exit option, I’m free!”

A quarter said that they chose to remain “retired,” and only 7% of the participants in the polls said they “click yes to stay, I’m hardcore.”

Musk met with some top employees to try to convince them to stay, said one current and one recently departed employee who is in contact with Twitter colleagues.

While it’s unclear how many employees chose to stay, the numbers highlight the reluctance of some employees to stay at a company where Musk hastily fired half of his employees, including top management, and is ruthlessly changing the culture to emphasize over long hours and an intense pace.

The company has notified employees that it will close its offices and cut off badge access until Monday, according to two sources. Security officials began evicting employees from the office on Thursday evening, a source said.

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Musk took to Twitter late on Thursday and said he was not worried about resigning as “the best people remain.”

The billionaire owner amid the flood of resignations also added that Twitter has hit all-time high usage.

“And we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage…”, he said in a tweet, without elaborating.

Twitter, which has lost many members of its communications team, did not respond to a request for comment.

PLATFORM stability

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

On Thursday evening, the version of the Twitter application used by employees began to slow down, according to a source familiar with the problem, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of breaking during the night.

“If it breaks, there’s no one left to fix things in many areas,” said the person, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.

Elon Musk’s photo and the Twitter logo are seen through a magnifying glass in this illustration taken Nov. 4, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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

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In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, nearly 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 titled “voluntary-layoffs,” said a person with knowledge of the Slack group.

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

Blue hearts and greeting emojis flooded Twitter and its internal chats on Thursday, the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees said their goodbyes.

By 6 p.m. Eastern, more than two dozen Twitter employees across the United States and Europe announced their departures in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, though each resignation could not be independently verified.

Earlier on Wednesday, Musk sent an email to Twitter employees, saying: “Going forward, to build a Twitter 2.0 tool and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be very difficult”.

The email asked employees to click “yes” if they wanted to stay. Those who did not respond by 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday should be considered quit and given a severance package, the email said.

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As the deadline loomed, employees scrambled to figure out what to do.

A team at Twitter has decided to take a leap together and leave the company, a departing employee told Reuters.

Notable departures include Tess Rinearson, who was responsible for building a crypto team at Twitter. Rinearson tweeted the blue heart and greeting emojis.

In an apparent jab at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profile bios of several engineers leaving Thursday described themselves as “softcore engineers” or “former hardcore engineers.”

As the resignations came, Musk made a joke on Twitter.

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

Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akanksha Khushi; Edited by Sam Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Paresh Dave

Thomson Reuters

Technology reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area covering Google and the rest of Alphabet Inc. Joined Reuters in 2017 after four years at the Los Angeles Times focusing on the local technology industry.

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