Twitter temporarily closes offices as layoffs begin

  • Employees have to hear by 1600 GMT whether they will be laid off
  • Musk looks to cut nearly half of the workforce – internal plans
  • Employees file a class action lawsuit against Twitter

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc temporarily closed its offices Friday after telling employees that they will be notified by email later in the day whether they will be laid off.

The move comes after a week of uncertainty over the company’s future under new owner Elon Musk.

The social media company said in an email to employees that it will tell them by 9 a.m. PT Friday (12 p.m. EDT/1600 GMT) about the layoffs.

“In an effort to put Twitter on a healthy track, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” read the email sent on Thursday, which was seen by Reuters.

Musk, the world’s richest person, is looking to cut about 3,700 Twitter employees, or about half the workforce, as he seeks to cut costs and enforce a new work ethic, according to internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week.

The company’s content moderation team is expected to be a target of the cuts, tweets from Twitter employees suggested Friday. Musk promised to restore freedom of expression while preventing him from descending into “hell.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter employees expressed their frustration over layoffs on the social network, using the hashtag #OneTeam.

User Rachel Boone tweeted: “Last Thursday in the San Francisco office, the last day Twitter was Twitter. 8 months pregnant with a 9-month-old baby. Just cut off access to my laptop.”

In response to the #OneTeam thread, Twitter’s Head of Safety and Integrity Yoel Roth said: “Adventurers: DMs (Direct Message Paths) are always open to you. Tell me how I can help.”

Roth was the most senior executive who sent a public message with a tweet in support of employees who had lost their jobs. It also appears that he still has his job. Last week, Musk endorsed Roth, citing his “high integrity” after he was summoned over tweets criticizing former US President Donald Trump years ago.

Ruth did not respond to a request for comment.

Twitter said in the email that it will temporarily close its offices and suspend access to all badges in order to “help ensure the safety of every employee as well as Twitter’s systems and customer data.”

The company’s office in London’s Piccadilly Circus looked deserted on Friday, with no staff in sight.

Inside, any evidence of the social media giant’s occupation of the building has been erased. Security staff said renovation work was ongoing, declining to comment further.

The company said that employees who are not affected by the layoffs will be notified via their work email addresses. The memo said laid-off employees will be notified of the next steps for their personal email addresses.

A security staff member at Twitter’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin told reporters that no one was coming into the office on Friday and staff were asked to stay home.

Another member of the security personnel closed the turnstiles in front of the building where about 500 employees worked before the layoffs began.

Some employees have tweeted that they have accessed the company’s IT system and have been blocked, fearing that this would indicate that they have been laid off.

A user with the account SBkcrn, whose profile is described as a former large community manager on Twitter, tweeted, “Looks like I’m out of work. I’ve been logged out of my remote work laptop and removed from Slack.”

A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday against Twitter by its employees, who argued that the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing 60 days’ notice, in violation of federal and California law.

The lawsuit also asked a federal court in San Francisco to issue an order to restrict Twitter from urging laid-off employees to sign documents without informing them of the case’s suspension.

Musk directed Twitter teams to find up to $1 billion in annual infrastructure cost savings, according to two sources familiar with the matter and an internal Slack letter reviewed by Reuters.

He has already liquidated the company’s top ranks, dismissed its CEO and chief financial and legal officials. Others, including those at the top of the company’s advertising, marketing and human resources departments, have left for the past week.

Musk’s first week as the owner of Twitter was marked by chaos and uncertainty. Two company-wide meetings were scheduled, only to be called off hours later. Reuters employees told Reuters they were left to gather information through media reports, private message groups, and anonymous forums.

The layoffs, which had long been expected, have cooled the popular Twitter corporate culture that many of its employees have praised.

“If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please go home,” Twitter said in the email on Thursday.

Two employees told Reuters shortly after the email reached an employee at Boxes, hundreds of people flocked to the company’s Slack channels to say goodbye. The sources said that someone invited Musk to join the channel.

Additional reporting by Sheila Dang, Katie Paul, Parrish Dave, Fanny Botkin, Rochari Mukherjee, Martin Coulter and Subanta Mukherjee; Written by Matt Skovham; Editing by Lincoln Fest, Mark Potter and Jason Neely

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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