The letter will be provided with the subject “Your role on Twitter”, the company announced on Thursday evening (local time) in a circular mail published by several US media. According to media reports, with 3,700 jobs, around every second job at the short message service could be lost.
According to the circular, employees who can stay on Twitter should receive the email at 9:00 a.m. US West Coast time on Friday (5:00 p.m. CET) at their company address. Anyone who loses their job will receive information about the next steps to their private e-mail address. On Twitter, it was understood that it was a “challenging experience,” said the circular email, which began with the salutation “Team” and was only signed with “Twitter”.
Access cards disabled
The Twitter offices will remain closed on Friday and all access cards will be deactivated, it said. “If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please return home.” The measure is intended to ensure the security of employees as well as the Twitter systems and user data.
The step should therefore be a precautionary measure to rule out any protest actions by those who have been laid off. That would not be unprecedented: In November 2017, on his last day on the job, a support employee deactivated the Twitter account of then US President Donald Trump. It took about ten minutes for the account to be online again.
According to reports from the Washington Post and the New York Times, around half of the 7,500 Twitter employees are set to lose their jobs. “In an effort to put Twitter on a healthy path, we will begin the difficult process of downsizing worldwide,” the email said. This will “meet numerous people who have made a valuable contribution to Twitter”, but is “unfortunately necessary to ensure the future success of the company”.
The new Twitter boss Elon Musk had previously announced significant savings. Musk took over Twitter at the end of October after months of wrangling for $44 billion (around €44 billion) and immediately fired the head of the short message service, Parag Agrawal, and other key managers.
For Twitter employees, the circular was the first official communication since Musk completed the Twitter purchase last Thursday, as reported by the Washington Post, among others. A general meeting with Musk was originally announced for Friday. However, this had been canceled – as well as a later date for it, it said, citing employees.
Employees were most likely to learn about Musk’s ideas for the future of the service from the tech billionaire’s tweets. The Washington Post wrote on Friday night that his publicized plans for new functions in the paid subscription offer Twitter Blue came as a surprise to most employees in the responsible department. “We all work for Donald Trump’s White House,” she quoted an employee as saying. He alluded to the fact that Trump made announcements on Twitter, sometimes without consulting officials, and that even some of his ministers learned of their dismissal from tweets by the US President.
Twitter recently in the red
Twitter was recently in the red. Musk had also taken out loans of around 13 billion dollars for the takeover deal – and according to media reports, servicing them requires more money than the Twitter business generates in free funds. Musk had set Twitter’s financial goal of increasing annual revenue from $5 billion last year to more than $26 billion by 2028.
Meanwhile, the company is coming under financial pressure after being taken over by Musk: Several international corporations, including food giant General Mills and carmaker Volkswagen, froze their advertising budgets on Twitter on Thursday. The US automaker General Motors had already stopped advertising on Twitter last week as a result of its takeover by Musk.
Government officials and civil rights activists have expressed concern that Musk could open the text messaging service to uncontrolled hate speech and disinformation, unblocking previously suspended accounts like that of former US President Donald Trump. Advertising is the main source of income for Twitter. Musk recently tried to calm the situation by assuring that the portal would not become a “free hellscape”.