Twitter Closes Offices as Hundreds Reject Ultimatum

Sources say critical engineering teams have been gutted
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2022 5:29 AM CST
Twitter Closes Offices as Hundreds Reject Ultimatum
The Twitter logo is seen at the social media company's headquarters in San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.   (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Elon Musk's ultimatum for Twitter employees to pledge to be "extremely hardcore" was rejected by many workers—perhaps more than the company's new owner bargained for. The Verge reports that according to internal Slack messages and tweets from departing employees, hundreds of employees chose not to respond before Musk's 5pm Eastern deadline Thursday, meaning it was their last day at work and they will receive three months of severance pay. Sources tell the Verge that several "critical" teams at Twitter are now completely gone or almost gone, and they believe the platform might start breaking down soon. "It will be extremely hard for Twitter to recover from here, no matter how hardcore the people who remain try to be," one employee says. More:

  • Offices closed. Twitter employees were told Thursday that the company's office buildings would be closed until Monday and badge access would be suspended, the BBC reports. Sources tell Reuters that security staff started kicking employees out of one office Thursday evening.
  • "Taking exit option, I'm free!" Reuters reports that in a poll of 180 verified Twitter employees on workplace app Blind, 42% chose "Taking exit option, I'm free!" Around 25% of respondents said they were staying reluctantly and 7% chose "clicked yes to stay, I'm hardcore."

  • Musk tried to convince wavering employees to stay. Sources tell the New York Times that Musk and his team held meetings Thursday to try to convince some key employees to stay at the company. The sources say that when the 5pm deadline passed, some employees who were in a meeting with Musk via videoconference hung up as Musk was still speaking.
  • Walking back return-to-the-office mandate. Musk told employees Thursday that another ultimatum, for employees working remotely to come back to the office or lose their jobs, was being walked back, the Washington Post reports. He said the only thing required for people to get approval to work at home "is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring you are making an excellent contribution." The Times notes he followed that up with an email warning to managers: "Any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing excellent work or that a given role is essential, whether remote or not, will be exited from the company."
  • The gutted teams. Sources tell the Verge that the teams decimated by resignations include the teams that "route engineering requests to the correct backend services" and the team that maintains core system libraries. Remaining workers "are going to be overwhelmed, overworked, and because of that more likely to make mistake," an engineer who left the company this week tells the Post. The Verge estimated that before the Thursday deadline, Twitter had around 2,900 employees. Musk laid off around 50% of the staff after taking control of the company. Numerous others resigned in the following weeks—or were fired for criticizing Musk.
  • Musk posts a joke. A few hours after the 5pm deadline, Musk tweeted this: "How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one."
(Read more Twitter stories.)

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