Science

Nights in the office and mass layoffs, the first week of Elon Musk on Twitter

Shortly after the layoffs were announced, Twitter employees took to social media to announce they were cutting their jobs (Glenn CHAPMAN/AFP/Archives).

On Twitter, the first week under the leadership of Elon Musk was like a tornado: it started with sleepless nights of some engineers, ended with the dismissal of half the staff.

“It’s been a very strange week. Executives were fired, others resigned, but there was no official communication from management until Thursday evening,” the former employee said on condition of anonymity.

Employees received the first email informing them that their fate would be decided on Friday. The next day, a second confirmed the rumors: 50% of the workforce thanked.

At the forefront are marketing and design departments, as well as managers. According to Yoel Roth, the site’s security manager, content moderation was more restrained, with a firing rate of just 15%.

After 24 hours of silence on the matter, Elon Musk tweeted that “unfortunately there was no other choice when a company is losing over four million dollars a day” and that “three months’ compensation was offered to anyone who lost their job.” “.

The decision of the employees was not surprising – the rumors were persistent – but the cruelty of the method was shocking.

“You find yourself disconnected. Your laptop is resetting automatically,” Emmanuel Cornet, a French engineer who has been on Twitter for a year and a half, said on Friday.

“Inhuman”

He was fired on Tuesday for “professional misconduct” with no further explanation after a weekend spent entirely in the office working on projects launched by his new boss.

However, he was in the top 5 to 10% of the company’s top engineers, according to lists compiled this week.

The Tesla boss did invite the engineers of his flagship electric car to evaluate the work of the Twitter developers, examining, in particular, the amount of code each of them creates, which, according to Emmanuel Cornet, is a “naive” measure of performance.

The latter is one of five former Twitter employees who filed a class-action lawsuit against the company on the grounds that they did not receive the 60-day notice period required by US law in the event of a social plan (Warn act).

The French emigrant still thought about leaving. “But many of my colleagues are in a less enviable position in terms of health insurance or visas,” he recalls. “Some were on parental leave. A colleague gave birth yesterday, and today she was fired.”

Dismissed persons must continue to comply with company rules during the notice period.

Many fear that the new management is looking for pretexts to accuse them of professional misconduct and not pay compensation.

“They will look to see if anyone is publicly vilifying Twitter or looking for incriminating internal messages,” the former employee said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The risk exists, in particular, for people who are still working but working remotely, he said: “We will ask them to come back to the office and if they refuse, hop, malpractice.” “They are trying to save money at all costs, including inhumane treatment of people,” he adds.

“Forgive those who were not fired”

For six months, platform employees have been preparing for the possibility that the richest man in the world will take control.

He is preceded by his reputation, from the hellish rhythm in his factories to his rejection of remote work, very popular in technology, and his absolutist vision of freedom of expression, synonymous with harassment, disinformation and hate speech against his detractors.

This summer, more than 700 people left of their own accord, not even knowing if the $44 billion acquisition would take place.

The radical change in corporate culture was confirmed last Friday when engineering teams were mobilized to overhaul some features in a very short time and their position was at stake.

“Probably there were too many managers … Twitter was not an efficient and well-oiled machine,” emphasizes an anonymous former employee. “But I don’t know if (mass layoffs) will fix the business.”

“I think a lot of people are going to leave, and maybe that’s what Elon wants,” he added.

“To be honest, I feel sorry for everyone who was not fired. Elon will bore them with his crazy ideas,” responded James Glynn, who was fired and was previously in charge of content moderation teams from London. “Any version of Twitter we knew before is dead.”

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