As the billionaire assumes ownership of Twitter, staff at the social media company are “freaking.”
Alexandra S. Levine, David Jeans, and John Paczkowski
Channels of Silent Slack. War rooms are manned by lawyers. Last meals.
After Elon Musk took control of the company Thursday evening, four top executives—including the CEO, CFO, general counsel and head of legal policy, trust, and safety—were escorted from the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Now employees wonder if and when Musk will make good on his reported pledge to investors to cut Twitter’s workforce by 75 percent, and if they will be next.
“People are freaking,” said one current employee, a sentiment solidified by the arrival of a “small battalion of new lawyers” at headquarters this week.
Some staff members have difficulty communicating. SME they are looking to press reports on the outside for clues as to what’s unfolding on the inside, and whether they’ll still have their jobs by the end of the week. “There have been no internal comms about the departures,” one employee said. “No internal comms about anything, really.” Some are learning about developments in real-time through the Twitter hashtag #TwitterTakeover, where potential misinformation has started to spread—encapsulating their very concerns over what may happen under a Musk-owned Twitter.
Musk or any other high-ranking leaders are yet to provide details on how or when employees will receive their answers today. Particular concern is the possibility of a mass firing before Tuesday, November 1st when major stock vestings are scheduled. Employees have not been informed that an all-hands would be held today. “It’s just silent,” said one employee.
Musk and Twitter have not responded to requests for comment before publication time.
Employees have diverted communications from Slack to avoid further jeopardizing their jobs. Unemployed worker texted, “ELON is WATCHING.”
Employees have sometimes used their platform for internal discussions and grievances. Teams and coworkers have gathered for impromptu meals to commiserate and theorize on what’s to come or who their bosses may be by day’s end—with some even likening the gatherings, half jokingly and half seriously, to The Last Supper.
“There’s a horse in the hospital with a flamethrower,” said one employee, updating John Mulaney’s Trump-era political joke with a reference to the flamethrowers Musk’s tunnel startup The Boring Company once sold.
Ali Mogharabi, an analyst at Morningstar, said that some of these anxieties contrasted starkly with Musk’s recent message to advertisers, in which he said that he didn’t want the platform to become a “free-for-all hellscape” and that he plans to “show Twitter users advertising that is as relevant as possible to their needs.”
“Based on that tweet, it seems that he is going to be focusing on the ad-based model a little bit more seriously, than many expected,” Moghrabi said. “In the early stages of that process, I wouldn’t think that significantly cutting that headcount is going to help.”
However, employees are reporting a rise in applications to Twitter. “Started a new job at Twitter! Wahooo! Now is a good a time as any to announce this right?” senior technical program manager Kevin O’Brien posted publicly on LinkedIn on Friday, using a crying-laughing face emoji.
“You will clearly have a huge surge of resumes coming toward Twitter now that Musk owns it,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush. “To many it makes it a much more appealing place with Musk owning it.”
Outsiders have been causing a frenzy about who will be fired in the wake of Thursday’s executive dismissals. Videos of employees who have posted about how they spend their days at Twitter are going viral on social media: “This is ‘a day in the life of a Twitter employee.’ No wonder @elonmusk is firing 75% of them,” the right-wing Twitter account @LibsofTikTok postedResharing video showing an apparent Twitter employee enjoying iced matchas, gourmet meals, meditation, yoga, and red wine between meetings.
News outlet Morning Brew posted its own TikTok parody on Friday, showing a day-in-the-life of a Twitter executive heading to work happy—before the video is cut short by his sudden firing. “Just let him finish the video Elon!” the caption read.
But for now, the scene is quiet outside Twitter headquarters, where a gaggle of reporters—some of whom fell for two pranksters who claimed to be fired employees—waited in anticipation for actual employees to start leaving.
Kenrick Cai contributed reporting.