Nov 17 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to leave the beleaguered social media firm following an ultimatum from new owner Elon Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours of high intensity” or leave.
In a poll on the workplace app Blind, which authenticates employees through their work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, 42% of 180 people chose the answer to “Take exit option, I’m free! “
A quarter said they chose to stay “reluctantly,” and only 7% of survey participants said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m hardcore.”
Musk met with some top employees to convince them to stay, according to a current employee and a recently departed employee who is in contact with Twitter colleagues.
While it’s unclear how many employees chose to stay, the numbers highlight the reluctance of some staffers to stay at a company where Musk has hastily laid off half of his employees, including top management, and is relentlessly changing the culture to emphasize long hours and an intense pace.
According to two sources, the company has told employees it will close its offices and limit access to badges until Monday. Security officials began evicting employees from the office on Thursday evening, according to a source.
Musk took to Twitter late Thursday and said he wasn’t worried about being fired because “the best people stay.”
The billionaire owner also added amid the deluge of layoffs that Twitter usage has hit an all-time high.
“And we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage…” he said in a tweet, without elaborating.
Twitter, which has lost many of its communications team members, did not respond to a request for comment.
Among the departures are many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, raising questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of employees.
On Thursday night, 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 breaking overnight.
“When it breaks, in many areas there’s no one left to fix things,” said the person, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.
Reports of Twitter outages jumped from less than 50 to about 350 on Thursday night, according to website Downdetector, which tracks website and app outages.
In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, nearly 40 said they had decided to leave, the former employee said.
And in a closed Slack group for Twitter’s current and former employees, about 360 people joined a new channel titled “voluntary redundancies,” said a person with knowledge of the Slack group.
A separate poll on Blind asked employees to estimate what percentage of people would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of respondents estimated that at least 50% of employees would leave.
Blue hearts and greeting emojis flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms on Thursday, marking the second time in two weeks as Twitter employees said their goodbyes.
By 6 p.m. Eastern, more than two dozen Twitter employees in the United States and Europe had announced their departures in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, though each resignation could not be independently verified.
Early Wednesday, Musk had sent Twitter employees an email saying, “Going forward, we’re going to have to be extremely hardcore to build a breakthrough in Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world”.
The email asked staff to click “yes” if they wanted to stay. Those who have not responded by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday will be deemed to have quit and will receive severance pay, the email said.
As the deadline approached, employees struggled to figure out what to do.
A team within Twitter decided to take the plunge together and leave the company, an employee who is leaving told Reuters.
Notable departures included Tess Rinearson, who was tasked with building a cryptocurrency team on Twitter. Rinearson tweeted the blue heart and saluted emojis.
In an obvious joke about Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profile bios of several departing engineers described themselves Thursday as “softcore engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”
As the layoffs rolled in, Musk joked on Twitter.
“How do you make a small fortune with social media?” he tweeted. “Start with a big one.”
Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco, and Paresh Dave in Oakland, California; Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akanksha Khushi; Edited by Sam Holmes
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