Nov 18 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter Inc employees are estimated to have decided to quit the beleaguered social media company after a Thursday deadline from new owner Elon Musk for staff to report for “long, high-intensity hours,” or leave.
The departure underscores the reluctance of some of Twitter’s roughly 3,000 employees to stay at a company where Musk previously laid off half the workforce, including top management, and is relentlessly changing the culture around long hours and ‘ to emphasize an intense pace.
Musk took to Twitter late Thursday to say he wasn’t worried about resignations, as “the best people stay.”
The billionaire owner also added, “We just hit another peak in Twitter usage…,” without elaborating.
Musk met with some top employees Thursday to try to convince them to stay, said one current employee and a recently departed employee who are in touch with Twitter colleagues.
The company also notified employees that it would close its offices and cut access to the badge until Monday, according to two sources. Security officers began kicking some employees out of one office Thursday night, one source said.
More than 110 Twitter employees across at least four continents announced their decision to leave in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, although each resignation could not be independently verified. About 15 employees, many in advertising sales, have announced their intention to stay with the company.
In Twitter’s internal chat tool, more than 500 employees wrote farewell messages on Thursday, a source familiar with the notes said.
A poll on workplace app Blind, which verifies employees through their work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, showed 42% of 180 respondents opting for “To opt out, I am free!”
A quarter said they chose to stay “reluctantly,” and only 7% of poll participants said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m hardcore.”
The exact number of employees who plan to leave the company could not be immediately determined.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service interruptions, 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 one source familiar with the matter, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of crashing during the night.
“If it does break, there’s no one left to fix things in many areas,” said the person, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.
Reports of Twitter outages rose sharply from fewer than 50 to about 350 reports Thursday night, according to the website Downdetector, which tracks website and app outages.
In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter staffers, nearly 40 said they had decided to leave, according to the former employee.
And in a private Slack group for Twitter’s current and former employees, about 360 people have joined a new channel titled “voluntary layoffs,” a person with knowledge of the Slack group said.
A separate poll on Blind asked staff members to estimate what percentage of people would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of the respondents estimated that at least 50% of employees would leave.
Early Wednesday, Musk emailed Twitter employees, saying, “Going forward to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will have to be extremely hardcore.”
The email asked staff to click “yes” if they wanted to stick around. Those who have not responded by 5 p.m. Eastern time Thursday will be considered to have quit and given a severance package, the email said.
As the deadline approached, employees scrambled to figure out what to do.
One team within Twitter decided to take the plunge and leave the company together, one departing employee told Reuters.
Blue hearts and salute emojis flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms Thursday, the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees said goodbye.
Notable departures include Tess Rinearson, who was tasked with building a cryptocurrency team at Twitter. Rinearson tweeted the blue heart and salute emojis.
In an apparent jab at Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profile bios of several departing engineers on Thursday described themselves as “softcore engineers” or “ex-hardcore engineers.”
As the resignations poured in, Musk joked on Twitter.
“How do you make a small fortune in 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; Editing by Sam Holmes and Mark Potter
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