Nights in the office and mass layoffs, Elon Musk's first week on Twitter
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Nights in the office and mass layoffs, Elon Musk’s first week on Twitter

Posted on Sunday 06 November 2022 at 04:08

On Twitter, the first week under Elon Musk was like a hurricane: It started with sleepless nights for some engineers, and ended with laying off half the staff.

“It’s been a very strange week. Executives have been fired and others have resigned, but there was no official communication from management until Thursday evening,” said a former employee, who asked not to be identified.

The staff received an initial email informing them that their fate would be determined on Friday. The next day the second confirmed the rumors: 50% of the workforce was thanked.

In the foreground, marketing and design departments and managers. Content moderation was even more evasive, with a ban rate of just 15%, according to Yoel Roth, the site’s director of security.

After 24 hours of silence on the matter, Elon Musk ended up tweeting that “unfortunately there is no other choice when the company loses more than four million dollars a day” and that “everyone who lost their jobs was offered three months compensation.”

The decision did not surprise the staff – the rumors were pressing – but the brutality of the method did.

“You discover that you have been disconnected. Your laptop is reset automatically,” Emmanuel Cornet, a French engineer who has been on Twitter for a year and a half, said Friday.

– “Inhumane” –

He was sacked on Tuesday for “professional misconduct”, without further explanation, after a weekend spent entirely in the office working on projects launched by his new boss, Manu Militari.

However, he was among the 5 to 10 percent of the company’s top engineers, according to lists drawn up this week.

The Tesla boss has already brought in engineers from his flagship electric car to evaluate the work of Twitter developers, and he specifically examined the amount of code each of them produces, a “naive” measure of productivity according to Emmanuel Cornet.

The latter is one of five former Twitter employees who have filed a class action lawsuit against the company on the grounds that they did not receive the 60-day notice period required by US law in the case of a Social Plan (Warn’s Law).

The French expat was considering leaving anyway. “But many of my colleagues are in a less envious position in terms of health insurance or visas,” he recalls. “Some were on parental leave. A colleague gave birth yesterday, before she was fired today.”

Persons who have been terminated must continue to abide by the company’s rules during the notice period.

Many fear that the new administration is looking for excuses to accuse them of professional misconduct and not pay them compensation.

“They will monitor whether someone publicly denigrates Twitter or looks for internally compromised messages,” said a former employee on condition of anonymity.

According to him, the danger exists especially for people who are still working, but in remote work: “We will ask them to go back to the office and if they refuse, jump in, misbehave.” “They are trying to save money at any cost, to the point of treating people in a completely inhumane way,” he adds.

– ‘Sorry to those who weren’t fired’ –

For six months, platform employees have been preparing for the possibility that the world’s richest man will take over.

His reputation precedes him, from the hellish tunes in his factories to his refusal to work remotely, which is hugely popular in technology, and his absolute vision of free speech, synonymous with harassment, misinformation and hate speech to his critics.

This summer, more than 700 people left on their own, before even knowing if the $44 billion acquisition would take place.

The radical change in the company’s culture was confirmed last Friday, when teams of engineers were mobilized to fix some features in no time, putting them to the test.

“Maybe there were too many managers… Twitter was not an efficient and well-equipped machine,” asserts the anonymous former employee. “But I don’t know if (mass layoffs) will fix the company.”

“I think a lot of people will leave and maybe that’s what Elon wants,” he added.

James Glenn, fired and formerly in charge of the content moderation teams from London responded: “I feel sorry for everyone who wasn’t fired, to be honest. Elon is going to outsmart them with his crazy ideas.” “Any version of Twitter we’ve known before is dead.”

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