Musk fires half of Twitter’s staff to ‘improve the health of the company’

Elon Musk a fait venir des développeurs de Tesla pour évaluer le travail d

The richest man in the world is said not to like wasting time. Barely a week after buying Twitter, Elon Musk undertook to lay off half of his workforce, while launching major projects and battling against users, advertisers and associations worried about the transformation of the influential social network. “About 50% of the staff will be affected” by the layoffs in progress within Twitter, indicates a document sent to the employees of the social network who were thanked on Friday, and consulted by AFP.

The Californian company, which had nearly 7,500 employees at the end of October, temporarily closed its offices and notified thousands of people by email, explaining that the purpose is “to improve the health of the company”. “I learned when I woke up that I will no longer be working at Twitter. My heart is broken. I can not believe it “tweeted Michele Austin, the director of regulations for the United States and Canada.

“Unfortunately, there is no other choice when the company is losing more than $4 million a day,” Elon Musk said in his first post on the subject, 24 hours after the first email from the company. “All those who lost their jobs were offered three months of compensation”he specified.

By last Thursday, when the billionaire took control of the company, he had dissolved the board of directors, fired the executives, assumed the post of general manager and took the company off the stock exchange. Managers and marketing and design departments seem particularly affected, according to a recently laid off employee, who wished to remain anonymous.

Find ways not to pay compensation

He fears that the new management will seek to find ways to withhold severance pay from ex-employees, finding pretexts to accuse them of professional misconduct. “It looks like mercenary tactics, they try to economize at all costs, to the point of treating people inhumanely”regrets this same employee.

Overnight Thursday, five recently fired Twitter employees filed a class action lawsuit against the company for not receiving the 60-day notice period required by US law for layoffs. massive (Warn Act), according to the text of the complaint consulted by AFP. One of them, Frenchman Emmanuel Cornet, was fired for professional misconduct without explanation, despite being among the top 5-10% of the company’s engineers, according to lists compiled this week.

Elon Musk brought in Tesla developers to assess the work of Twitter employees. He also quickly launched the overhaul of several products, including the paid subscription and the account authenticity verification system, and imposed a sustained pace. The change in corporate culture is therefore confirmed – several executives resigned on their own this week and more than 700 people have already left this summer, of their own free will, according to an employee.

“We are witnessing the destruction in real time of one of the most powerful communication systems in the world. Elon Musk is an unpredictable and inconsistent billionaire, he represents a danger to this platform that he is not qualified to lead”responded Nicole Gill, co-founder of Accountable Tech, one of the NGOs that called on advertisers to put pressure on the new boss.

Because the libertarian entrepreneur advocates an absolutist vision of freedom of expression which risks, according to his critics, opening the door to a resurgence of abuse (harassment, hate speech, misinformation…). Several groups have already decided to suspend advertising spending on Twitter, including the American agribusiness giant General Mills, the American car manufacturer General Motors and its German competitor Volkswagen. And more than a million users seem to have left the platform since last Thursday, according to estimates from Bot Sentinel, a specialist in analyzing social network accounts.

The company is heavily indebted

However, to finance its acquisition at 44 billion dollars, Elon Musk heavily indebted the company whose financial health was already fragile. It recorded a significant deficit in the first two quarters of the year.

On Friday, the stormy 50-year-old blamed the fall in income on “a group of activists who put pressure on advertisers even though nothing has changed with the moderation of content and we have done everything to appease the activists. It’s complete rubbish! They are trying to destroy free speech in America,” he charged. Yoel Roth, the site’s security manager, reassured himself by tweeting that the content moderation department had only suffered 15% departures, and that front-line staff were the least affected.