Twitter shuts offices as workers head for exit

By Clare Duffy and Oliver Darcy | CNN

Another brain drain appears to be underway at Twitter, as many workers rejected Elon Musk’s ultimatum to work “extremely hardcore,” choosing instead to leave the company, according to several current and former employees.

As the deadline neared for Twitter employees to respond to Elon Musk’s ultimatum to commit to working at the company in an “extremely hard” way or to quit, some employees appeared to publicly state that they would support the decided on the latter option. On Thursday afternoon, Twitter employees began posting the greeting emoji, which has become a signal that someone is leaving the company. A Twitter employee said in a tweet that the decision to join the company was “one of the easiest decisions ever made. The decision to leave today was 100% the opposite.”

Meanwhile, an internal company Slack channel was filled with employees who posted the greeting emoji after the 5 p.m. ET deadline, indicating that they had decided not to sign Musk’s pledge and leave the company , employees told CNN.

Twitter’s remaining workforce had until 5:00 p.m. ET Thursday to decide whether they wanted to be part of the culture Musk wants to implement at the social media company or effectively quit, according to an E email he sent to staff on Wednesday.

A former Twitter executive who recently left the company described Thursday’s departure of employees as a “mass exodus”.

On Thursday evening after the resignations, employees remaining at the company received an email informing them that the company’s offices will be temporarily closed and access to the ID cards will be restricted until Monday, according to a copy of the email which CNN received from a current Twitter employee. Musk’s team similarly closed offices during the mass layoffs earlier this month amid safety concerns and an apparent fear that departing employees might attempt to sabotage the company on its way out.

Two Twitter employees told CNN before the deadline on Thursday that they planned to reject the ultimatum, citing a toxic work environment they believe the billionaire has instituted. Another Twitter staffer told CNN on Wednesday that they are still weighing the decision, saying Musk’s email “felt like a punch in the stomach because no matter how it made you feel, stay or go.” wanting, you’ve been forced to make a decision and feel like you’re racing against the time clock to make the best decision for you and your family.”

The employee added, “These decisions are more than just 24 hours.”

Musk told employees Wednesday his goal is to build “Twitter 2.0” and that employees who choose to stay must commit to working “long hours at high intensity,” presumably following Musk’s requirement Agreeing with Twitter employees who have largely been working remotely to return to office work. As of Thursday noon, employees still had no clarity on what exemptions from remote work would be granted if they choose to stay, an employee said.

Later on Thursday, amid apparent management confusion to avoid losing too many employees to the ultimatum, Musk emailed employees to clarify his position on remote work, according to the body of the email. Mail CNN received from a Twitter employee who asked not to identify.

“In terms of remote work, all that is required for approval is for your manager to take accountability for you making an excellent contribution,” Musk said in the email, adding that employees are expected that they attend face-to-face meetings at least once a month.

Twenty minutes later, Musk sent a follow-up email saying, “At the risk of stating the obvious, any manager who falsely claims that someone who reports to him is doing an excellent job or that a particular role is essential, whether removed or not, terminated by the company.”

The decision to issue an ultimatum came after Musk laid off half of Twitter’s employees earlier this month, reducing the workforce to around 3,700 employees and also reportedly laying off many of Twitter’s contract workers. He also ousted top management and dissolved the board. Musk also recently fired some employees for criticizing him in tweets or on internal Slack channels.

“I don’t want to stay here and build a product that is poisoned inside and out,” said one of the employees, who wants to reject the ultimatum but asked not to be identified so as not to jeopardize the severance payment. “Everyone has a price to some degree and this separation gives me some comfort in looking for a better environment despite the economy in the time frame.”

That employee said management now appears concerned about the number of people planning to leave and “scrambling” to convince talent to stay. Twitter, which has reportedly eliminated most of its PR team, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another Twitter employee, who asked not to be quoted, shared similar concerns and said he also plans to leave the company.

A recently fired employee who keeps in touch with former colleagues told CNN that everyone they spoke to had plans to reject Musk’s ultimatum and leave the company. “People can’t help but notice the public taunts and firings of other employees,” the former employee told CNN. “In the same way, they can’t overlook or feel comfortable working for someone who’s been handling the past few weeks the way Elon has.”

“People don’t want to sacrifice their mental health and family life to make the richest man in the world even richer,” the former employee added.

But the decision may not be so easy for others. The ultimatum comes at a difficult time for the tech industry after mass layoffs and announcements of hiring freezes at many big companies, including Meta, Amazon, Lyft and others. Employees from other countries working in the United States could also risk losing their work visas if they leave the company.

A fourth employee told CNN on Thursday he plans to stay with the company “because change is rarely influenced from the outside.”

The likely shock from the ultimatum will be the final element of the “fundamental organizational restructuring” following Musk’s acquisition, he said Wednesday in a Delaware court during a trial over his Tesla pay package.

Musk said in Wednesday’s email that the “new Twitter” will be “much more engineering-centric,” leading some non-engineering workers to wonder if their jobs could be at risk even if they decide to stay.

“There’s no assurance, you just say, ‘Maybe I can stand up for myself, maybe I can’t,'” said the employee, who expressed uncertainty about the decision. “What’s behind that door? You do not know. The only door you know to be safe is the exit door.” Twitter shuts offices as workers head for exit

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