Twitter said it will start laying off employees on Friday, as the new billionaire owner Elon Musk moves quickly after his big takeover to make the messaging platform financially sound.
A company-wide email seen by AFP says Twitter employees will receive word via email at the start of business Friday, California time, as to what their fate is.
It does not give a number but the Washington Post and New York Times reported that about half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees will be let go.
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global work force,” the email said.
Twitter employees have been bracing for this kind of bad news since Musk completed his mammoth $44 billion acquisition late last week and quickly set about dissolving its board and firing its chief executive and top managers.
A workplace and employee review and other projects ordered by Musk were reportedly so exhaustive and grueling that some engineers slept at Twitter headquarters over the weekend.
The email sent Thursday told workers to go home and not report for work on Friday.
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“Our offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended,” the email said. Those on the way to the office should turn around and return home.”
The email acknowledged that Twitter is going through “an incredibly challenging experience.”
“We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward,” it added.
Saddled with the purchase of Twitter, for which Musk has said he overpaid, the tycoon is looking for ways for Twitter to make money — and fast.
His most recent idea was to charge $8 a month to anyone on Twitter who would receive a blue “verified” badge assuring the public that the account is authentic.
A news report this week said Musk wanted to charge $20 a month but faced a backlash, including from bestselling novelist Stephen King, who tweeted: “$20 a month to keep my blue check?” It was followed by an expletive.
Musk responded on Twitter, seemingly bargaining with King: “we need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
Musk has said he wants to increase Twitter’s revenue from $5 billion last year to more than $26 billion in 2028.
Top global companies, including General Mills and Volkswagen, suspended their advertising on Twitter on Thursday as pressure builds on Musk to turn his platform into a succesful business.
US auto giant General Motors last week was the first major advertiser to suspend advertising following the takeover.
Officials and civil rights groups have expressed worry that Musk will open the site to uncontrolled hate speech and misinformation as well as reinstate banned accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump.
Advertisers are Twitter’s main source of revenue and Musk has tried to calm the nerves by reassuring that the site would not become a “free-for-all hellscape”.