After six months of bickering and delaying tactics, Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter finally closed late Thursday, according to reports — leaving Twitter employees facing a very different situation than they envisioned in April.
When the billionaire tech mogul first agreed to buy Twitter in April, many employees at the San Francisco social media company were skeptical of their new potential boss, who had criticized the company’s employees for being lazy and politically biased .
But they are happy to know that they can always turn elsewhere. The job market for tech talent is strong and will only get stronger during the pandemic.
The tech industry has since slumped sharply, and the social media giant’s workforce is bracing for the worst: Nearly three-quarters of the company’s workforce could face massive layoffs. According to a recent report, Musk told potential investors that he plans to cut Twitter’s roughly 7,500 employees to more than 2,000.
Earlier this week, a group of employees distributed an open letter pre-emptively protesting Musk’s move, Time magazine reported. “Elon Musk’s plan to lay off 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce will harm Twitter’s ability to serve the public conversation,” the letter said. “A threat of this magnitude is reckless, undermines the trust of our users and customers in our platform, and is a clear act of worker intimidation.”
On Wednesday, Musk denied the report.
Recruiters are watching the news closely. Twitter announced a hiring freeze in May after two executives left the company and then fired a third of its hiring team. According to Business Insider, employees have left in droves, fed up with Musk’s flamboyant takeovers.
Liz Schmidt, co-founder of EQ Recruiting, said: “As an agency recruiter, if we see any signs of turmoil in a company, we definitely go out and try to poach them. “We’ve reached out to every product manager or software engineer on Twitter” a few months ago.
Schmidt said her company received some resumes at the time and plans to revisit them this week. Schmidt said many employees “are going all out, maybe waiting to see what happens, but won’t start actively looking until they’re sure layoffs are going on.”
(CEO Parag Agrawal and several of his top lieutenants have been fired, according to Bloomberg.)
About 5,000 potentially furloughed workers face a cooling job market, hiring freezes and layoffs at companies including Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Google, Microsoft, Netflix and Snapchat. That’s a stark difference for an industry that has thrived during the pandemic and raced to hire software engineers, offering generous salaries and job perks.
“With a lot of rapid hiring … over the past two years, we’ve seen expectations for compensation, benefits, work culture, everything peak,” said Andrew Esguerra, manager of a recruiting agency in the Los Angeles area of End Search . “People don’t settle for what they think is perfect.”
But for job seekers in today’s climate, there must be “a new set of expectations,” Esgra said.
The scale of the expected layoffs also means that a large number of skilled workers will leave the company, rather than workers who would have left with smaller layoffs.
“A lot of times, when I see smaller layoffs, 9 out of 10 people think these workers are considered irrelevant. … Usually you don’t fire your best product managers and designers teacher,” Esguerra said.
In this case, if an employee is in the top 50 percent of Twitter, “it’s safe to assume they’re good,” Esguerra said.
Brent Gilinsky, Hireful’s chief executive, said he’s gone through multiple layoffs at major companies since he entered the recruiting field in 2007. More than 1,400 current Twitter employees on LinkedIn have indicated on their profiles that they are open to opportunities, he said.
“I believe … in general, it’s easy to get a Twitter employee on board,” Gilinski said.
While there is no legal requirement for severance pay, federal law requires employers to give at least 60 days’ notice of layoffs if layoffs affect more than one-third of a company’s employees.
Among Twitter employees — or at least those with publicly visible accounts on the platform they help run — the mood this week was a mix of exhaustion, resignation, cautious optimism and gallows humor. Some vaguely alluded to chaos or stress at work, while others reiterated their love for their company and their colleagues.
“Thanks to my colleagues for getting me through the week,” an employee post.
written Another from the weekend: “As a Twitter employee, this was probably one of the worst Sunday panics I’ve ever experienced.”
“Apart from the absolute chaos, I love my team and what I can do,” third worker Say.
Musk’s deal with Twitter appears to be a seemingly endless series of offers, counteroffers, withdrawals, withdrawals and suspensions. After backing out of the original $44 billion deal to buy the company earlier this year, Musk filed a lawsuit against him in Delaware Chancery Court this month by announcing that he would resume acquisitions.
A judge ordered him to complete the deal by Friday.
With things now approaching some possible practical conclusion, Musk has been on Twitter — even before he bids to buy it, his platform of choice — to discuss his vision for the company’s future.
“One of the beauty of Twitter is how it empowers citizen journalism – people being able to spread news without creating bias,” he wrote in a tweet.
In another article, he found that he was trying to address two conflicting impulses at the root of Twitter’s business model: the need to nurture a third-party advertiser on which the site relies for most of its revenue to want to appear ecosystem, and Musk has often expressed his desire for platforms to be as hands-off as possible when moderating user posts.
“The reason I bought Twitter is that it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square where broad beliefs can be debated,” wrote Musk, who in the past has criticized the platform for being too censorship.
At the same time, however, Musk continued, “Twitter clearly can’t be an all-in-one hellscape where nothing is said to have any consequences!”
It’s a tricky balancing act — one that tripped up many social media executives before him — and it may remain Musk’s top priority at the helm of the company. Musk’s Twitter bio now reads “Chief Twit” and his location is set to “Twitter HQ.”