Elon Musk’s plan to eviscerate Twitter sparks anger and lots of jokes

Elon Musk isn’t even the boss yet, but Twitter staff already have reason to shudder. It was revealed on Thursday that the mega-troll billionaire could slash the company’s workforce by nearly 75 percent, assuming his takeover goes through.

Twitter employees, already weary from six months of non-stop upheaval, are preparing for the worst.

“We’ve heard terrible stories about Tesla, so we’re concerned about what will happen under Elon’s leadership,” a Twitter worker told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.

She added, “It’s something I think about every day as a Twitter worker.”

Another current employee said that he and his colleagues are trying not to rush into action given the ever-changing status of the Elon deal. “Everybody’s just playing the waiting game and see what’s going to happen,” he said.

In his corner of the business, the associate continued, people are mostly focused on hitting their quarterly goals and not overtly panicking. He plans to continue working at Twitter — at least if he has a choice. “I like working here,” he says.

Musk agreed to buy the company in April at a price of $54.20 per share, or about $44 billion. But just three months later, he backed down, claiming the company had misled him and other investors about the volume of spam and fake accounts on the platform.

Twitter didn’t like this reversal and chose to sue Musk in the Delaware Court of Chancery. (The billionaire himself filed a countersuit). A trial was supposed to start this month, but Musk unexpectedly announced that he wanted to close the deal at the original price. A judge gave the parties until October 28 to complete the transaction. If they fail, the matter will likely go to trial in November.

On Thursday Washington Post Reporting on the potential mass layoffs, a former Twitter boss called the proposal “unimaginable” and said it would weaken defenses against hacking and “objectionable material like child pornography.” The report also noted that job cuts are likely whether or not the acquisition happens, and a company lawyer told employees he had no confirmation of Musk’s plans.

Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company has reportedly bled employees since Musk announced the potential acquisition. A former employee who left in August over the specter of a merger said internal communications on the issue had been “terrible,” with “very little assurance that the fundamental core of Twitter will remain the same.”

“I’ve never spoken to a person on Twitter who was excited about this,” she said of the potential purchase. “It was a mix of ‘I want to go to protest’ and just ‘Let me find another job.’”

Many who remain with the company worry at the thought of more jobs being cut. An anonymous employee expressed shock at Musk’s reported plan to cut 75 percent of the existing 7,500 employees. “It’s kind of crazy to buy something only to burn it down,” she said. “It’s not sustainable, it can’t run at 25 percent capacity.”

She added that members of her department are nervously eyeing severance packages at Musk’s other companies, such as Tesla, which is currently facing a lawsuit for allegedly offering just two weeks’ pay to some former employees. Twitter’s current severance policy calls for two months or more, but “nobody knows if they’re going to meet that,” she said.

Other employees reacted to the news on – where else? – Twitter and fired off memes about the company’s San Francisco headquarters replaced by a ghost Halloween shop or future all-hands meetings attended by only four people. (“Crying and laughing at the same time,” a contributor replied to the latter.)

“Tonight we open a good bottle of wine,” explained a technical director from Boulder. In May, this employee tweeted that he’d had “the craziest time” in his eight-year tenure on Twitter. Then it got even crazier. On Thursday, he recirculated his original tweet, with the additive from “a huge FUCK in there somewhere”.

Dan Ives, an equities analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a research note on Friday that Musk is willing to massively overpay for the deal. “The $44 billion Twitter price tag is simply a train wreck for an asset to which we are tied [at a] fair value in the $30 billion range,” he wrote, citing the company’s “Everest-like growth challenges.”

Ives advocated some job cuts given Twitter’s “lack of growth” although he saw layoffs in the 75 percent range as “far too aggressive” and a move that could set the platform back years.

However, the anonymous former employee said she could see a silver lining.

“It’s probably good to just take a few months off mentally to recover from all this chaos,” she said. “I think it’s been a rollercoaster ride for everyone.” Elon Musk’s plan to eviscerate Twitter sparks anger and lots of jokes

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