By Sifiso Sibandze
It is less than a month since Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk took over Twitter but the company has been rocked by tumultuous scenes, with employees being shown the exit door, asked to return and of late, deciding to quit the company.
On Tuesday night, the multibillionaire reportedly sent an email to the company’s remaining employees with the subject line “A Fork in the Road”.
According to Bloomberg, Musk was detailing his plans for improving the company, calling it “Twitter 2.0,” and said he wanted it to become “hardcore”.
The Washington Post reported that this will mean working long hours at high intensity. “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” he reportedly told his employees.
Attached to the email was a Google form on which employees could simply click yes or no on whether they wanted to stay with the corporation. The deadline was for Thursday, November 17.
Notwithstanding Musk’s ultimatum to his employees to either commit to the company’s ‘hardcore’ work environment or leave, he was astounded as about 75 per cent of the less than 3000 workers declined to sign, potentially putting Twitter’s operations at risk, according to people familiar with the matter.
On Thursday, many employees decided to take severance and that created a cloud of confusion over which people should still have access to the company’s property. According to a memo seen by Bloomberg, Twitter closed its offices until Monday. “Please continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential information on social media, with the press or elsewhere,” the memo added.
In the final hours before his deadline, Musk tried to convince people to stay. Key staff were brought into meetings as the Thursday evening deadline neared to hear pitches on the social network’s future, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk, who had earlier said he was strictly against remote work, also sent a follow-up email Thursday softening his tone.
“All that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” he wrote, adding that staffers should have in-person meetings with their colleagues not less than once per month.
It wasn’t enough. Twitter’s internal communications channels are filled with employees offering a salute emoji, which has become a symbol for departing the company. Former staff tweeted the salute publicly, too, along with their internal Slack messages.
Some employees who were departing speculated that so many were leaving, along with their knowledge of how the product works, that the social network may have trouble fixing problems or updating systems during its normal operations, according to people familiar with the matter.
Twitter’s future is also complicated by a possible national security review of Musk’s deal by the US government, people familiar with the matter said.
By Sifiso Sibandze