Nov 18 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Twitter Inc employees are estimated to have decided to leave the embattled social media company following a deadline on Thursday from new owner Elon Musk that employees could either log “extremely long hours” or quit.
The departures highlight the reluctance of some of Twitter’s 3,000 or so employees to stay at a company where Musk previously fired half the workforce, including top management, and is ruthlessly changing the culture to emphasize long hours and extreme speed.
Musk took to Twitter late Thursday and said he wasn’t worried about the resignation because “the best people stay.”
The billionaire owner added: “We’ve got another one very high on the Twitter app…,” without elaborating.
Musk met with some top employees on Thursday to try to convince them to stay, according to a current employee and a recently departed employee who is in touch with Twitter colleagues.
The company notified employees that it would close its offices and reduce badge access until Monday, according to two sources. Security officials began evacuating some employees from an office on Thursday evening, a source said.
More than 110 Twitter employees on at least four continents announced their departures in public Twitter posts reviewed by Reuters, although each resignation could not be independently verified. About 15 employees, many in advertising sales, expressed interest in staying with the company.
More than 500 employees wrote farewell messages on Twitter’s internal chat tool on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the notes.
A poll on the workplace app Blind, which verifies employees via work email addresses and allows information to be shared anonymously, found 42% of 180 respondents said “I choose to opt out, I’m free!”
A quarter said they chose to stay “reluctantly,” and only 7% of those polled said they “clicked yes to stay, I’m hardcore.”
The exact number of employees who want to leave the company could not be immediately established.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, raising questions about the platform’s stability amid the loss of staff.
On Thursday evening, the version of the Twitter app used by employees started slowing down, according to a source familiar with the matter, who estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of breaking overnight.
“When it breaks, there’s no one in many areas to fix things,” said the person, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation.
Twitter crash reports rose sharply from less than 50 to about 350 reports Thursday evening, according to Downdetector, a website that tracks website and app crashes.
In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter employees, the former employee said nearly 40 had decided to leave.
In a private Slack group for current and former Twitter employees, about 360 people have joined a new channel titled “Voluntary-Layoffs,” a person familiar with the Slack group said.
A separate survey of blind people asked employees to estimate what percentage would leave Twitter based on their perception. More than half of respondents estimated that at least 50% of employees would leave.
Early Wednesday, Musk sent an email to Twitter employees: “Moving forward, we have to work harder to create a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world.”
The email asked employees to click “yes” if they wanted to stick around. Those who do not respond by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday will be considered out and given a severance package, the email said.
As the deadline loomed, the staff were at a loss as to what to do.
A team at Twitter has decided to leave the company together, an outgoing employee told Reuters.
Blue hearts and salute emojis flooded Twitter and its internal chat rooms on Thursday, the second time in two weeks that Twitter employees said their goodbyes.
Notable departures include Tess Rynerson, who was tasked with building the cryptocurrency team at Twitter. Rynerson tweeted the blue heart and salute emojis.
In Musk’s call for employees to be “hardcore,” the Twitter profile bios of several departing engineers on Thursday described themselves as “softcore engineers” or “former hardcore engineers.”
As the resignations rolled in, Musk cracked a joke on Twitter.
“How do you make a small fortune on social media?” he tweeted. “Start something big.”
Reporting by Sheila Tang in Dallas, Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif.; Additional reporting by Martin Coulter and Akansha Khushi; Editing by Sam Holmes and Mark Potter
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