Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover quickly took a toll on employees located in Boulder and elsewhere following a mammoth round of layoffs Friday — a week after the billionaire’s acquisition of the social media platform.
Twitter employees learned about the decision via email, which said they’d know their employment statuses — laid off or not — by 10 am MT on Friday. It didn’t specify how many of the company’s 7,500 workers would be impacted.
A notice on Friday to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment confirmed 87 employees at the Boulder office at 3401 Bluff St. will be terminated, with those layoffs expected to begin Jan. 4, 2023. Affected employees — all of whom weren’t union-represented — will be paid all wages and other benefits through their termination dates.
The letter was issued under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment defines the act as “a law that requires employers to provide employees experiencing employment loss with a 60-day notice prior to a layoff.”
“It’s certainly disappointing to see 87 local employees laid off all at once,” said Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett in a phone interview. “Sad to see so many of them lost their jobs today.”
He noted Twitter’s presence in the city since 2014.
At least one ex-employee said she knows of former colleagues who lost their jobs. Twitter’s communications team, which once included 80 to 100 workers, is now down to two, Bloomberg News reported.
Musk’s plan is to cut about half of Twitter’s labor force, booting around 3,700 employees in the process, according to Bloomberg. “At least some” will receive paychecks until Jan. 4 — a fact learned after the filing of a class action lawsuit against the company for not initially providing the mandated 60-day notice.
“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk tweeted Friday evening around 5 pm “Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required. ”
Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day.
Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
That morning, he noted “a massive drop in revenue,” blaming the plunge on “activist groups pressuring advertisers.”
“Everyone knew there was a pretty decent chance” of layoffs, said Elaine Reddy, a former Twitter employee in Boulder. “I’m shocked by the size and the way it was handled.”
Reddy worked for the company around seven years ago, and now handles communications for a climate tech policy firm. She confirmed the layoffs of “a lot of my former colleagues who I worked with for years” in roles from engineering to account management.
“It just seemed the Twitter employees were the last ones to know, which is unfortunate,” Reddy added in a telephone interview.
She notes a “stark contrast” between the tweets written by former employees expressing gratitude for their time at the company and the messages from leadership.
“It’s wonderful that Twitter finally has a leader who’s using Twitter, but not best practice to not acknowledge layoffs via Twitter,” Reddy said. “When you’ve shown such a lack of empathy for employees, it’s gonna be an uphill battle to attract the talent they need moving forward.”
Others in the Denver area are sending well wishes to Boulder employees — past and present — as news continues to roll in.
Hyper-local tweets but thinking of all the Twitter employees here in Boulder County who just lost their jobs and what that’s going to mean for our area that’s already been hit with so much
— Jessica Mason Pieklo (@Hegemommy) November 4, 2022
Alan Stein, founder, CEO and chief accelerator at Kadima Careers, runs a professional training and coaching service to help candidates secure jobs at tech companies. He previously worked for Google and Facebook.
Stein described the layoffs — and Musk’s approach to them — as “not shocking at all,” pointing to his proclivity “to make a ripple in the industry.”
He noted the CEO’s appreciation of engineering talent, but Twitter is “also a big sales and media organization, and my hunch is he probably undervalues some of that talent and the need for those sort of roles.”
Other tech companies aren’t ready to absorb those former Twitter employees, given industrywide layoffs at Stripe, Chime and others, Stein said. “Companies are still hiring, but I think there’s going to be a surplus of talent on the market and it won’t be as quick to absorb right away.”
Once Musk took the helm of the company, he almost immediately caused turmoil on the social media platform. A Nov. 1 tweets announced that verified users must soon pay an $8 monthly subscription to retain the blue checkmarks by their handles.
“Twitter’s current lords & peasants system for who has or doesn’t have a blue checkmark is bullshit,” he wrote. “Power to the people! Blue for $8/month.”
The new subscription will include priority in replies, mentions and searching, the ability to post long videos and audio clips, half as many ads and paywall bypass “for publishers willing to work with us,” Musk added in a thread.
The move will “give Twitter a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
The news sparked intense debate, with some praising Musk for the decision. Others criticized that it will result in a rise in both disinformation and bots on the site, on top of enforcing a class system between those who can and cannot pay.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York stood out as a high-profile opponent of the decision.
One guy’s business plan for a $44 billion over-leveraged purchase is apparently to run around and individually ask people for $8.
Remember that next time you question yourself or your qualifications.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 3, 2022
Users have also noted a jump in the number of advertisements shown on their feeds.