Twitter’s beleaguered employees have been handed some more worrying news this week, which forced the platform to deny it was planning large-scale layoffs.

The Washington Post reported Elon Musk telling investors about his plans to gut Twitter’s workforce, and that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers. This would mean Twitter’s workforce would shrink to just over 2,000 staffers.

And even worse, the article offered little comfort to those staff praying that Elon Musk’s controversial $44 billion acquisition of Twitter doesn’t actually happen.

Job cuts

The Washington Post article citied corporate documents and interviews with people familiar with the firm’s deliberations, as its source.

It reported that even if Musk’s Twitter deal falls through, big cuts to the workforce are still expected.

According to the report, Twitter’s current management had planned to reduced the payroll by about $800 million by the end of next year – a number the Post said would mean the departure of nearly a quarter of the workforce.

The Washington Post said Twitter also planned to make major cuts to its infrastructure, including data centres that keep the site functioning for more than 200 million users that log on each day.

Twitter and Musk are expected to close the purchase by next Friday 28 October 2022.

Musk has until then to secure the necessary funding, or faces the prospects of paying a $1 billion penalty clause.

In internal Slack groups, Twitter employees reportedly reacted to the news with anger and resignation, other support each other or making jokes about the turmoil, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Twitter denial

Twitter however has again denied it is planning large-scale job losses.

According to Reuters, citing a source who viewed the email, Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett sent an employees on Thursday saying there were ‘no plans for any company-wide layoffs”.

Human resources staff at the social media company have also told staff that they were not planning for mass layoffs, Reuters reported.

This is despite the Washington Post reporting that there were already extensive plans to axe staff and cut down on infrastructure costs, even before Musk offered to buy the company.

Beleaguered workforce

The news of Musk’s reportedly plans for the workforce will no doubt further lower morale at the firm, which has already seen staff quitting in droves, including a number of senior executives.

Twitter had said in July that it had already “significantly slowed hiring” amid a wider economic downturn the tech industry, and it denied it was planning large-scale job losses.

CEO Parag Agrawal in May was unable to provide worried staff members with much reassurance at a town hall meeting, admitting that the future was uncertain.

Matters were not helped when Elon Musk engaged with a number of tweets that were openly critical of Twitter’s senior management – which earned him a rebuke from the platform’s former CEO Dick Costolo.

Twitter staff have long been concerned at Musk’s attitude to cutting headcount and other costs, decreasing content moderation and limiting remote working.

Elon Musk spoke with Twitter employees in a virtual ‘all hands’ meeting in mid June.

While he touched upon potential layoffs, alien life, remote working, and free speech, Musk notably failed to reassure Twitter staff about the future under his stewardship.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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