Fears have grown that Twitter may soon collapse after a letter from new owner Elon Musk demanded his employees be “extremely hardcore” was met with swathes of resignations. The company also told employees today it would be closing its office until Monday. Some reports suggested up to 75 percent of employees have refused Mr Musk’s offer of “working long hours” and only allowing “exceptional performance” to qualify as a “passing grade”. Meanwhile, a video shared on the site captured the moment employees projected a message with a stream of insults for the new boss.
The Tesla billionaire almost forfeited Twitter within weeks of purchasing it for $44 billion, following a legal battle over the number of bots and spam accounts on the site.
He followed this by laying off half the workforce, insisting in various tweets and replies to fans axed staff were unnecessary to the site – despite according to website Downdetector, outage reports spiked from less than 50 to around 350 on Thursday evening.
Last night, Mr Musk said on the site that he was not worried about resignations affecting the running of the company as “the best people are staying.”
The billionaire added: “We just hit another all time high in Twitter usage,” although provided no statistics or further elaboration.
Mr Musk joked about the predicted failure of the site by sharing a meme of someone posing in front of a gravestone.
Staff appear to have been leaving in large numbers following a message sent to employees setting out Mr Musk’s new vision for what he wanted from them. The email said “only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade” when building “Twitter 2.0” – adding that the new workplace environment would be “extremely hardcore” and require “working long hours”.
He then gave his employees an ultimatum to either work longer days or leave the company, receiving “three months of severance”.
Employees were instructed to respond “yes” by 5pm ET (10pm GMT) on Thursday, otherwise they would be given three months’ severance.
But according to tech writer Gergley Orosz, “far fewer than expected devs hit ‘yes’”.
He added: “Sounds like playing hardball does not work. Of course it doesn’t.”
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In an apparent jibe at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profile bios of several departing engineers on Thursday described themselves as “softcore engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”
Meanwhile, reporter Kylie Robison said roughly 75 percent of the remaining 3,700 employees opted not to stay following the email – although clarified that this was based only on sources at the company, not official data.
One anonymous former Twitter employee told the BBC: “I think when the dust clears today, there’s probably going to be less than 2,000 people left.”
Another added they were already working long hours – but Mr Musk’s bravado left them wanting to leave the company, saying: “I didn’t want to work for someone who threatened us over email multiple times about only ‘exceptional tweeps should work here’ when I was already working 60-70 hours weekly.”
In response to the widespread resignations, Twitter announced it would be closing up its offices until Monday, disabling employee badge access.
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But a day later, Mr Musk reportedly sent another email to employees, saying: “Anyone who can actually write software, please report to the 10th floor at 2pm today. Before doing so, please email me a bullet point summary of what your code commits have achieved in the past 6 months”.
It was unclear how employees were expected to this as it was shut and their badges didn’t work. Mr Musk then clarified he wanted to speak to people on video calls.
However, he added “only those who cannot physically get to Twitter HQ are excused”, and even encouraged workers to “fly to SF [San Francisco] to present in person”.
A video that has gone viral on the site shows a projection of text onto the side of the Twitter office with a stream of insults for Mr Musk, labelling him “petulant” and a “mediocre manchild”, among others derogatory comments.
Shortly after news of the latest departures, Mr Musk tweeted, “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one.”
Express.co.uk has contacted Twitter for comment.