After a wave of resignations at Twitter, Elon Musk frantically tried to assemble whatever engineers were left at the offices he’d previously announced would be closed for the weekend.
As The New York Times reports, Musk sent out a rash of emails Friday morning, Nov. 18, asking, “Anyone who actually writes software, please report to the 10th floor at 2 p.m. today.” He followed by asking those who weren’t in San Francisco to hop on a plane as soon as they could to meet with him in-person.
In that second email, Musk, who has so often positioned himself as one of Silicon Valley’s biggest brains, said he specifically wanted people in the office who could help him “better understand the Twitter tech stack.” Essentially meaning, Musk is still figuring out the underlying software infrastructure of the platform he just bought for $44 billion.
At least 1,200 full-time employees resigned on Thursday, according to internal estimates. The company had 7,500 full-time employees by the end of October, which was nearly halved to about 3,700 after layoffs this month.
Twitter offices shut down and employees left in droves following an ultimatum from Musk on Wednesday. The CEO asked Twitter employees to either commit to an “extremely hardcore” culture at the company that involves “long hours at high intensity” or leave with severance, the Verge reported. Anyone who did not sign the pledge by 5 p.m. ET Thursday would reportedly receive three months of severance pay, The Washington Post reported.
Hours before the curtain call, hundreds of resignations rolled in, according to the New York Times. And as waves of employees opted for the three months severance pay, Twitter later announced via email that it would close their office buildings and disable employee badge access until Monday.
Before the Thursday deadline, Musk and his advisers held meetings with “critical” Twitter employees in an attempt to dissuade them from leaving, reports say. He also seemed to retreat on his stance on not allowing people to work from home in confusing messages about the company’s remote work policy.
The Twitter exodus follows the growing list of changes that have fallen on the company since Musk’s $44 billion takeover. Earlier this month, Musk fired top executives, slashed off half of the workforce, and fired any remaining staff who dared to bruise his ego on Twitter.
While Musk framed Wednesday’s 36-hour notice to leave or commit to “a breakthrough Twitter 2.0” as a way to give the company a competitive edge, the action is most likely an attempt to cut costs as the possibility of bankruptcy looms closer.
As word of the dire situation inside Twitter spread, #RIPTwitter and #GoodbyeTwitter were the top trending hashtags as users took the moment to reminisce on fond memories on the social media platform before the lights went out. Many also shared links to other (more reliable) services like Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and Twitch.
Although Musk has tried to mitigate the hemorrhaging staff by bringing in engineers and managers from his other companies, Tesla included, many of them are unfamiliar with the internal mechanisms of social media, reports state.
The future of how Twitter will maintain its ability to handle misinformation and operate day-to-day is unclear as the thousands of employees have left in such a short amount of time.
The number of engineers required to operate Twitter’s critical systems are down to two or even zero, the Washington Post reported. “I know of six critical systems (like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical) which no longer have any engineers,” a former employee told the Post. “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.”
Shortly after news of the latest departures, Elon Musk tweeted, “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one.”
This story was updated 11/18/22 @ 2:56 p.m. ET with details about emails Elon Musk reportedly sent to Twitter’s remaining engineers.