June 10, 2023

Twitter temporarily closes offices as Elon Musk begins layoffs, including Canadian staff – National | Globalnews.ca

Twitter Inc. temporarily closed its offices and cut off employee access to internal systems on Friday after notifying employees in an email later in the day that they had been laid off.

The move follows a week of uncertainty about the company’s future under new owner Elon Musk.

The social media company said in an email to staff that it would notify them of the layoffs by 9 a.m. PT on Friday.

“In an effort to get Twitter back on track, we are going through a difficult process on Friday to reduce our global workforce,” said an email sent on Thursday and seen by Reuters.

Canadian staff faced global layoffs

The Canadian Press reported on Friday that Paul Burns, CEO of the company’s Canadian operations, and Michele Austin, Twitter’s head of public policy for the US and Canada, had announced their departures from the San Francisco-based tech giant on the social media site on Friday.

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“It’s been a wild last 4.5 years,” Burns said on Twitter.

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“Thank you for all the adventures to the people, friends, collaborators and tweeps who made this place so special. I love you all so much.”

Burns joined the company in 2018 and took on the company’s leadership role in Canada, overseeing the creation of its first Canadian design center in recent years.

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Austin has been at Twitter just as long, working in a high-profile role where he represented the company on board committees and helped shape election policy.

Austin was “heartbroken” to announce his resignation.

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“It’s been the best, craziest and most rewarding five years of my career,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“I loved every minute of it.”

What is behind the layoffs?

According to internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week, Musk, the world’s richest man, plans to cut about 3,700 Twitter employees, or about half the workforce, as he seeks to cut costs and introduce a demanding new work ethic.

According to tweets from Twitter staff, the impact is expected to affect the company’s content monitoring team.

Musk has promised to restore free speech and prevent Twitter from descending into a “hellscape.” However, his assurances have not stopped major advertisers from threatening to pull out of the platform.

Volkswagen has recommended its brands suspend paid advertising on Twitter for the time being following Musk’s takeover, it said on Friday. Its comments echoed similar remarks from other companies, including General Motors and General Mills.

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Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter’s Curation team, whose mission is to “highlight and contextualize the best events and stories happening on Twitter,” has been fired, employees said on the platform. According to Twitter’s Asia director, the company’s communications team in India has also been laid off.

Some employees reported losing access to internal systems and not being able to say goodbye to colleagues.

“Looks like I’m out of a job. I was just remotely logged out of my work computer and removed from Slack,” tweeted user @SBkcrn, whose profile is described as Twitter’s former senior community manager.

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Twitter employees expressed their frustration over the layoffs on the social network using the hashtag #OneTeam.

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User Rachel Bonn tweeted: “Last Thursday in the SF (San Francisco) office, really last day on Twitter was Twitter. 8 months pregnant with a 9 month old. Just cut off my laptop.”

Responding to the #OneTeam thread, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, said: “Tweeps: My DMs (direct message channels) are always open for you. Let me know how I can help.”

Roth was the highest-ranking executive to publicly send a message supporting support for workers who will lose their jobs. He also seemed to have his job. Musk last week endorsed Roth, citing his “high integrity” after he was criticized for tweets criticizing former US President Donald Trump years earlier.

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Roth did not respond to a request for comment.

Twitter said in an email that its offices would be temporarily closed and all credentials blocked “to ensure the safety of every employee and the security of Twitter systems and customer data.”

The company’s office in Piccadilly Circus in London looked deserted on Friday, with no employees to be seen.

Inside, all evidence that the social media giant had once occupied the building had been removed. Security personnel said renovation work was underway but declined to comment further.

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The company said employees not affected by the layoffs will be notified through their work email addresses. The dismissed employees will be informed about further measures to their personal e-mail addresses, the memo said.

A member of the security staff at Twitter’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Dublin said no one was coming into the office on Friday and employees had been told to stay home.

Other security personnel locked the revolving doors at the front of the building, where about 500 workers were working before the layoffs began.

Class action filed

Its employees filed a class-action lawsuit against Twitter on Thursday, alleging the company carried out mass layoffs without the required 60 days’ notice, a violation of federal and California law.

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The lawsuit also asked a federal court in San Francisco to issue an order preventing Twitter from asking employees to sign documents without notifying them of the pending case.

Musk has directed Twitter Teams to find up to $1 billion in annual infrastructure cost savings, according to two sources familiar with the matter and an internal Slack memo reviewed by Reuters.

He has already cleaned up the upper level of the company by firing its CEO and senior financial and legal director. Others, including those sitting atop the company’s advertising, marketing and human resources departments, have left in the past week.

Musk’s first week as Twitter owner has been marked by chaos and uncertainty. Two company-wide meetings were scheduled, but were canceled just hours later. Employees told Reuters they were allowed to gather information through media outlets, private message groups and anonymous forums.

The long-awaited layoffs have chilled Twitter’s notoriously open corporate culture, which many of its employees have praised.

“If you are in the office or on your way to the office, please go home,” Twitter said in an email Thursday.

With Canadian Press files.

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