Nov. 18 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to have decided to leave the beleaguered social media company after an ultimatum Thursday from new owner Elon Musk for employees to sign up for “long hours at high intensity” or leave expired.
The departures highlight the reluctance of some of Twitter’s 3,000 or so employees to stay at a company where Musk earlier fired half the workforce including senior management, and is ruthlessly changing the culture to emphasize long hours and a blistering pace.
Musk took to Twitter late Thursday and said he wasn’t worried about the resignations because “the best people are staying.”
“We have reached an all-time high in Twitter usage…,” the billionaire added, without elaborating.
Musk met with some senior employees on Thursday to try to convince them to stay, said a current employee and a recently departed employee in contact with his colleagues at Twitter.
The company also told employees it would close its offices and cut off access to the badge through Monday, according to two sources. A source said that security officers started expelling some employees from an office on Thursday evening.
More than 110 Twitter employees across at least four continents announced their decision to leave in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, though not every resignation could be independently verified. About 15 employees, many of them in advertising sales, have announced their intention to stay with the company.
On Twitter’s internal chat tool, more than 500 employees wrote farewell messages Thursday, a source familiar with the notes said.
A survey on the workplace app Blind, which verifies employees through work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, found that 42% of 180 respondents chose to “make the choice out, I’m free!”
A quarter said they “reluctantly” chose to stay, and only 7% of respondents said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m a die-hard.”
The exact number of employees who intend to leave the company cannot be determined immediately.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
The departures include several engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, which raises questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of staff.
On Thursday evening, the version of the Twitter app used by employees began to slow down, according to a source familiar with the matter, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of crashing overnight.
“If it does indeed break, there will be no one left to fix things in many areas,” said the person, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
Reports of Twitter outages rose sharply from less than 50 to about 350 on Thursday evening, according to Downdetector, which tracks website and app outages.
In a private conversation on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, roughly 40 said they had decided to leave, according to the former employee.
And in a private Slack group for current and former Twitter employees, about 360 people have joined a new channel called “Voluntary Layoffs,” said a person familiar with the Slack group.
A separate survey on Blind asked employees to estimate the percentage of people who would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of the respondents estimated that at least 50% of employees will leave.
Early Wednesday, Musk sent an email to Twitter employees, saying, “Going forward, to build the Twitter 2.0 breakthrough and achieve success in an increasingly competitive world, we’re going to need to be very tough.”
The email asked employees to click “Yes” if they wanted to continue. Those who did not respond by 5 p.m. ET Thursday would be deemed to have resigned and given a severance package, the email said.
As the deadline approached, the staff scrambled to figure out what to do.
One of the departing employees told Reuters that one of the teams within Twitter decided to make the move together and left the company.
Blue hearts and greeting emoticons flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms Thursday, marking the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees have said their goodbyes.
Notable departures included Tess Rinearson, who was tasked with building a cryptocurrency team at Twitter. Rynerson tweeted a blue heart and saluting emoji.
In an apparent jab at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter bios of several of the departing engineers Thursday described themselves as “passionate engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”
As the resignations began, Musk let out a joke on Twitter.
How do you make a small fortune in social media? he tweeted. “Start with a big one.”
Additional reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Hyunjoo-jin in San Francisco, and Paresh Dev in Oakland, California. Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Sam Holmes and Mark Potter
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