Employee layoffs are underway at San Francisco-based Twitter a week after the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, paid $44 billion to become the new owner of the social platform, turning off some longtime users and advertisers with his vision of making it less regulated.
Musk plans to eliminate about 3,700 jobs — about half of Twitter’s 7,500 workforce — starting Friday, Nov. 4 to cut costs, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The remaining employees will be asked to return to the office, Bloomberg reported.
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” Twitter said in an unsigned companywide email late Thursday, Nov. 4, according to Yahoo!News.
The email said Twitter would tell staffers by 9 a.m. PST Friday via email whether they would be laid off or not. Some staff tweeted that they had been locked out of their laptops overnight Thursday. Musk did not comment on the layoffs, tweeting instead: “Tiny talk is talk so small it feels like it’s coming from your own mind.”
Musk is under pressure to cut costs in a business for which he says he overpaid. He agreed in April to pay $54.20 a share just as markets tumbled, then tried for months to get out of the transaction, alleging that the company misled him about the prevalence of fake accounts. Twitter sued, forcing Musk to abide by the agreement and he plans to take the company private.
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A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday in San Francisco federal court over Musk’s alleged plan to eliminate jobs without giving enough notice — a violation of federal and California law. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN law, restricts large companies from doing mass layoffs without at least 60 days of advance notice, Bloomberg reported.
“Employers like Twitter who violate the WARN Act face civil penalties of $500/day for each violation. With thousands of employees, this could be significant, though maybe not to Elon” tweeted Lisa Bloom, whose Twitter bio says she is a trial lawyer fighting for victims of discrimination, harassment and abuse.
“Purpose of the law is to give laid off employees time to figure out how to handle this disruption. And Elon completely ignores it,” Bloom continued. “Twitter will be liable for all of these (civil penalties, lost compensation, lost medical and other benefits) & attorneys’ fees for the 60 days it failed to give workers notice. This flagrant violation of workers rights is outrageous.”
California’s strong antidiscrimination laws also apply to Twitter’s big layoff, Bloom tweeted, encouraging laid-off Twitter employees to join a class action lawsuit. “Are people of color, women and/or older workers disproportionately chosen, for example?”
IPG, one of the world’s largest advertising companies, recommended on Monday through its media agencies that clients temporarily pause spending on Twitter over moderation concerns, three people with knowledge of the communication told the New York Times. A coalition of platforms, advertisers and industry groups, the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, fights harmful content on social media. It too said this week it was monitoring how Twitter planned to deal with content moderation.
Shonda Rhimes, who created “Grey’s Anatomy” and other TV hits, told her 1.9 million Twitter followers, “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.”
Current and former Twitter employees mourned the death of the Twitter they knew and loved …. on Twitter.
“Elon will run those left behind into the ground with his hair-brained ideas. Any kind of Twitter we knew before is dead,” wrote James Glynn, a senior curation lead at Twitter’s London office who was laid off his job countering disinformation.
High-level firings began as soon as Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27, when he immediately axed top company executives including CEO Parag Agrawal and chief counsel Vijaya Gadde, who was head of online safety. Other departures include finance head Ned Segal, senior legal staffer Sean Edgett, Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Berland, Chief Customer Officer Sarah Personette, and Jean-Philippe Maheu, vice president of global client solutions.
The former CEO, CFO and top lawyer are expected to walk away with a combined $200 million in stock payouts and golden parachutes.
Other Twitter managers were asked to make lists of employees on their teams who could be cut, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Twitter workers are typically paid at least two months’ salary and the cash value of equity they were scheduled to receive within three months of a layoff date, according to an internal benefits summary seen by the New York Times.
Photos: Twitter owner Elon Musk attends the Axel Springer media award in Berlin, Dec. 1, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool via AP) / Blurry Twitter logo by Jorge Caballero Jiménez, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jorgecaballerojimenez/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/