(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk gave employees of Twitter Inc. ultimatum to either commit to the company’s new “hardcore” work environment or leave. Many more employees declined to sign up than expected, potentially jeopardizing Twitter’s operations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Most Read by Bloomberg
So many employees decided to leave that it created a cloud of confusion about which people should still have access to company property. Twitter closed its offices until Monday, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg. “Continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential information on social media, with the press or elsewhere,” the memo added.
Musk tried, in the final hours before his deadline, to convince people to stay. Key executives attended meetings as a Thursday afternoon deadline loomed to hear discussions about the social network’s future, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk, who earlier said he was strictly against remote work, also sent a follow-up email on Thursday, softening his tone.
“All that’s required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for making sure you’re making an outstanding contribution,” he wrote, adding that staff should meet in person with their colleagues at least once a month.
It wasn’t enough. Twitter’s internal communication channels are filled with employees offering a greeting emoji, which has become a symbol of leaving the company. The former staff posted the greeting publicly, along with their internal Slack messages.
Some departing employees speculated that so many were leaving, along with their knowledge of how the product worked, that the social network might have trouble fixing problems or updating systems during its normal operation, according to people familiar with the matter. they know the subject.
Twitter’s future is also complicated by a possible national security review of Musk’s deal by the U.S. government, people familiar with the matter said earlier.
Elon Musk’s Turbulent Twitter Takeover: Timeline
Musk on Wednesday asked employees to formally declare whether they were willing to continue working at the company — a commitment that would involve “many hours of high-intensity work.” Workers had until 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday to fill out a Google form.
The form included only one possible answer: “Yes.” Anyone who failed to accept the form within the deadline was told that they would be out of the company with three months of severance pay.
Musk’s ultimatum came less than two weeks after he laid off 50% of Twitter’s workforce, or about 3,700 employees. Many Twitter employees consulted lawyers this week to decide what to do. The letter contained almost no details about the severance packages, and it was not immediately clear whether workers would receive legal protections that would allow them to keep stock awards or maintain insurance coverage.
Musk brought back leaders who had left, either as part of his own layoffs or because of resignations, to convince others to stay, one of the people said. One returning leader is Ella Irwin, who will manage employees in Trust and Safety, according to a person familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified discussing non-public changes.
Musk later sent a follow-up email about the remote work, according to a screenshot seen by Bloomberg. “Any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing a great job or that a particular role is necessary, whether remote or not, will be removed from the company.
(Updates with more departures ahead)
Most Read by Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg LP