Twitter’s Last Gasp
CNN Photo Illustration/Obtained by CNN
Death is in the air on Twitter.


On the platform Thursday evening, where #RIPTwitter was the top trend worldwide, users wrote what they feared might be their last posts, offering apprehensive goodbyes and listing the other (more stable) social media platforms where they can still be found.


They were reacting to the dire news emanating from inside Twitter. Scores of remaining employees at the social media company on Thursday appeared to reject owner Elon Musk’s ultimatum to work “extremely hardcore,” throwing the communications platform into utter disarray and raising serious questions about about how much longer it will survive.


Inside the company’s Slack, I’m told that a mass resignation effectively occurred after Musk’s 5pm deadline for employees to arrive at a decision passed. Hundreds of staffers appear to have called it quits, accepting Musk’s offer to exit in exchange for three months of severance.


Employees flooded the “#social-watercooler” channel with the salute emoji (a screen grab of which I obtained and you can see above), indicating that they had chosen not to sign Musk’s pledge. A similar series of events unfolded in the Slack channel earlier this month as Musk eliminated roughly 50% of the company’s then 7,500-person workforce.


A former Twitter executive, who recently exited the company, described the situation to me as a “mass exodus.” Asked about the situation, the former executive told me, “Elon is finding out that he can’t bully top senior talent. They have lots of options and won’t put up with his antics.”

“They will struggle just to keep the lights on,” the former executive added.


That assessment was universally shared by the other half dozen current and former employees whom I spoke with on Thursday. It was already bad enough after Musk executed mass layoffs at the company earlier this month. So bad, you’ll remember, Twitter asked some of the people it had let go to come back just days later. The state-of-play has only become more dire since then.


In fact, Twitter management was in panic mode hours before the deadline passed, people familiar with the matter told me, explaining that senior leaders were “scrambling” to convince talent to stay at the company.


Musk himself seemed to finally realize grim state of affairs, sending an all-staff email relaxing his previously uncompromising anti-remote work position. “Regarding remote work, all that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” Musk said in the email.


It didn’t appear to do much good.


Two employees who I spoke to on Thursday whom had decided to reject Musk’s ultimatum were quite clear in why they were doing so. “I don’t want to stick around to build a product that’s being poisoned from the inside and out,” one said, adding later that he felt god about making a decision “in line with what I stand for.”


A recently laid off employee who remains in touch with former coworkers added to me, “People don’t want to sacrifice their mental health and family lives to make the richest man in the world richer.”


And Twitter seemed to grasp the mess on its hands Thursday evening, sending an email to staff notifying them it has once again shuttered all of its offices and suspended employee badge access, presumably to protect its systems and data.


Twitter’s already decimated communications department didn’t respond to requests for comment. But Musk nodded to the situation in a tweet.


“How do you make a small fortune in social media?” Musk asked. “Start out with a large one.”


  • “I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers,” an ex Twitter employee told WaPo. “There is no longer even a skeleton crew manning the system. It will continue to coast until it runs into something, and then it will stop.” (WaPo)
  • Platformer’s Zoë Schiffer: “The designers leading Elon Musk’s Blue verified project are out, along with the lead web engineer. Many Twitter employees who maintained critical infrastructure have resigned. This is going to look like a very different company tomorrow.” (Twitter)
  • “Multiple ‘critical’ engineering teams inside Twitter have now either completely or near-completely resigned, Alex Heath reported, citing sources, adding that “the team that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries” is also gone. (The Verge)
  • News of Twitter mayhem was the top story on The NYT’s homepage Thursday night. (NYT)
  • The chaos at Twitter has caught the attention of lawmakers, with seven Democratic senators asking the FTC to probe the company. (Reuters)
  • The latest restriction on Musk’s paid checkmark scheme: new Twitter accounts won’t be able to buy Blue verification for 90 days. (The Verge)
  • A group of 180 organizations have called on Musk to combat anti-Semitism on the social media platform after “unrelenting harassment.” (Mediaite)
  • Meanwhile, at Musk’s other businesses… This NYT headline: SpaceX Employees Say They Were Fired for Speaking Up About Elon Musk (NYT)
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Elon Musk is trolled as ‘Space Karen,’ ‘mediocre manchild,’ and ‘bankruptcy baby’ in news-ticker projection on Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters as platform sees mass resignations