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Cover image for Twitter is expected to lay off about half of its workforce
Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

Posted on

Twitter is expected to lay off about half of its workforce

Per this story by The Verge

Musk is expected to cut roughly half of Twitter’s roughly 7,500-person workforce. His team of outside advisors has spent the last week determining which engineers and technical managers to keep based largely on their recent contributions to Twitter’s codebase, according to employees involved in the discussions.

Stripe also underwent significant layoffs yesterday, as have others in the tech industry, in a "second wave" of sorts.

What are your thoughts about the latest in this situation? How are you feeling about things in general. Would love to hear from you.

Top comments (60)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Personally, I feel for everyone going through this after a long period of uncertainty and turmoil.

I'm also concerned that the functions considered to be unnecessary may include things related to member safety, harassment, etc. While the best intents here might be around removing bureaucracy, the outcomes just have a way of landing on the most vulnerable individuals, and I'm not seeing a lot of thoughtfulness at play here.

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leob profile image
leob • Edited on

I don't know what Musk is doing, and why he's doing it, but maybe Musk doesn't know himself either, lol ... the guy is a bit of a loony IMO.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

I don't like Twitter but my immediate gut reaction is one of compassion for the probably thousands of people must feel horrible right now.

People will argue that they saw this coming and they can "just" find another good job. And rationally they would be mostly right.

But that rationality breaks down completely on a human individual level.

I'm pretty sure there are many many of those people who put their time, and their best years, and their smarts, and their hopes, and their souls into their jobs. They believed what the company said it was all about.

They were loyal to the company and now they realize the company has no loyalty to them. They are being fired on the basis of a fast and massive "code review" which is one of the saddest lamest joke I have ever heard. I am not even sure the ones that didn't get fired feel any better.

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leob profile image
leob

The more I know about Musk, and the more I see his actions and hear his words, the less I like him ... it started with the cave drama in Thailand a few years ago (just google what Musk said about the leader of the rescue team) - since then I'm taking him ever less seriously. Clever businessman and a lot of money but very very questionable ethics.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

What you have to realize is that people end up (almost) inevitably worse as they get much much richer because they become fully isolated from the harsh feedback of reality.

In particular they become more and more isolated among more and more people who have a huge financial interest to tell them what they think he wants to hear

Imagine that nobody near Elon Musk has managed to tell him that his las Vegas tunnel was not, actually, a brilliant idea πŸ’‘

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leob profile image
leob

Megalomaniac tendencies almost always tend to creep in ... yeah I like the clown look on Musk, very fitting :)

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

Well the thing is that we all have bad ideas. But usually your and my bad ideas produce nothing in the world. Elon Musk's bad ideas, because he is super rich and immature, produce a dumb tunnel under Las Vegas.

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tiguchi profile image
Thomas Iguchi

Let's also not forget that he believes that we may live in a computer simulation. None of this is real and we are all just NPCs there to entertain him.

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leob profile image
leob

Lol I'm perfectly fine with that, he can believe anything he wants to as long as it doesn't affect me :)

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nfrankel profile image
Nicolas Frankel

A company has absolutely no reality. It's not going to send you birthday cards, or take care of you in any way; (some) people who are currently working for the company are.

Being loyal to a company, especially in the US, is of no benefit to an employee and is not a sign of great insight.

I am personally loyal to the people.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

I agree with you, I'm just saying that many people were not educated to treat the company where they spend so much time with a healthy dosis of cynicism.

Those people will alas feel hurt and betrayed.

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maxfindel profile image
Max F. Findel

I've heard that Musk is a very strict boss and that everyone around him is constantly overworked, regardless of the team or company they work for. The ones that do remain working at Twitter after the layoffs will have a hard time keeping their jobs :(

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

I've heard that Musk is a very strict boss and that everyone around him is constantly overworked, regardless of the team or company they work for.

The real question is why do people who do have a choice accept to be treated like that?

42 better companies will be more happy to accept software developer good enough to work at Twitter.

Elon Musk has power over you only if you forget that you are free to go.

And you will probably be better off.

Scientists have interviewed people on their death bed to understand how they reflect on their life. And literally nobody on his death bed regrets to not have spent ever more time at work to please a "very strict boss".

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dvddpl profile image
Davide de Paolis • Edited on

applause

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I think there's strict, and then there's retrograde (to put it nicely).

I think workers are generally more empowered than they were a few decades ago, in tech and otherwise. There are bad sides in some ways related to overall cultural inequality, but in and of itself, if workers is treated with more respect, that has to be a good thing.

But I think retrograde attitudes apply beyond this. Hearing that employees had to recently print out their code is just a bizarre example which speaks to some of this in general. And I'm concerned that his attitudes on harassment are likewise retrograde, and are a big concern to me about Twitter in general.

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leob profile image
leob

"Strict" is a very friendly qualification, to be honest I just detest the guy - and the more I know about him, the more I feel justified in feeling that way.

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missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

Devastated for them and the platform.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington (he/him)

Ughhh... this is all around awful.

To state the obvious, a bunch of hardworking folks losing their jobs only a week after the acquisition is messed up. There's simply no way that they could've thoughtfully assessed their staff in that amount of time... and knowing the way that Elon treats workers, I also seriously doubt that they would've landed on a compassionate strategy and stipend for the many different folks they laid off.

But, outside of the obvious pain this causes to those who were let go, I also see this as a symptom of part of a larger malady that is currently forming at Twitter under Elon's direction. Other symptoms include the purported plan to rehaul & most likely weaken moderation and the likelihood that Twitter will charge $8 month for the blue verification check. Cutting the team's head count and demolishing morale, reducing moderation efforts under the guise of protecting free speech, & making verification pay-to-play versus based on merit β€” all of these moves point to a Twitter that is less safe, less trustworthy, and less compassionate. If others feel the same (and from the dialogue around this, it seems they do), it's only a matter of time before Twitter becomes less populated and thus less relevant.

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leob profile image
leob

It's insane, first he paid 40 billion to purchase Twitter, now he's destroying it ... what's the rationale? Oh wait, he doesn't think rationally, it's all impulse driven, nothing makes sense. Unguided missile if there ever was one ... Twitter is doomed, unless there are people around him with some common sense, and he's letting himself be influenced or advised by those people.

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fyodorio profile image
Fyodor

It’s always sad hearing things like that. But…

7,500?! What this army is doing there?! You can search for β€œtwitter clone” here and find 10-minute articles with decent examples in different technologies…

I mean, I get the business stuff and all but 7,500…

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alvaromontoro profile image
Alvaro Montoro • Edited on

Of course you could create a basic clone in no time, but it would be just a small part of what Twitter really is. Twitter is way more than just a post board, it has advertising, analytics, APIs... and then scale that to hundreds of millions of users. A 10-minute article copycat won't be even close.

Also, of the 7,500 employees, only a small(-ish) percentage is developers, while most of them will likely be sales (I may be wrong).

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chayacooper profile image
Chaya Cooper • Edited on

Which only proves how illogical the decision was.

Because he not only:

  • Vaporized HALF the company (nearly 4,000 loyal employees) during his very first week.
  • Do this with little to no planning or institutional knowledge; or even a modicum of acceptance/trust/loyalty from the company's employees or either its customers or users.
  • And almost entirely based on a fast and massive "code review"; and an abysmally executed one at that.
  • When no one - including Elon - had even identified any real problems with either Twitter's code or the team's tech capability, nor was it anywhere in his litany of Twitter problems to tackle.

But he also primarily did it with the employees where it makes the least sense:

  • He fired thousands of employees who literally have nothing to do with the code (or even know how to code)... based on a 4-day code review.
  • Many of whom perform the very functions most critical to Twitter - based on Elon's own statements.
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leob profile image
leob

Spot on - none of it makes any sense, but the point is, when you're this obscenely rich it doesn't really matter what you do, and whether it's good or bad ... the point of it is probably that it enables him to feel like a proper dictator.

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tiguchi profile image
Thomas Iguchi

He was a vocal critic of Twitter's content moderation policies before and peddling the myth that Twitter was "censoring conservative voices", while in reality harassment and hate speech as well as election and covid lies were tagged and removed.

I believe the takeover was largely politically motivated in an overall shift of influential media towards the right, similar to what happened to CNN due to the new leadership there.

Musk mainly comments on tweets from far right figures, amplifying and validating them. He is neither a "champion of free speech" nor politically in the middle as he likes to portray himself.

We have an election year in the US, so Musk may have tried to influence the outcome by reshaping / lifting Twitter content moderation policies.

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leob profile image
leob

Yeah if Musk is in the "political middle" then I am the pope or Santa Claus ... maybe he successfully posed as being "in the middle" until now, a wolf in sheep's clothes, but the wolf is coming out for all to see in plain sight.

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leob profile image
leob

What disappoints me most is the realization that Musk is just another far-right nutcase - not the savior of the world, not the second coming, not some idealist or philanthropist, nothing like that ... previously I thought he was just a bit weird or funny sometimes, but no, not really ... everything he says or does these days is just banal, or outright repulsive.

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tiguchi profile image
Thomas Iguchi

And even more disappointing is the fact that he has armies of lower middle class people adoring and defending him.

Our society redefined important values in life as having a successful career and a lot of money. Especially in US culture, due to religious influences, being wealthy is conflated with being a "good person" (and the opposite is also unfortunately true here: being poor means that you did something wrong and you are a "bad person").

Musk set the ultimate benchmark for financial success, so "he must be a good person". A lot of people believe that he is a business genius and completely deserved his wealth. They do not care that he accumulated it by exploiting tax breaks, government financial aids, and his own workers. They also do not care that he manipulates the stock / crypto market. The ends justify the means.

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leob profile image
leob

He's been doing some shady stuff, that much I gathered already ... no he's not the "hero" anymore which people may have believed he was.

But he's been doing impressive stuff with SpaceX, I'll grant him that ... SpaceX is what's impressed me most among his endeavors.

(regarding Tesla, I learned recently that he's not even one of the original founders, but he got involved with Tesla a year or so after it had been founded)

He's been doing interesting things, but this Twitter stuff and the opinions he's venting lately, no it's not really a good look IMO.

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fyodorio profile image
Fyodor

Yea, believe so as well. But anyway, you know what I mean β€” even if we divide that, even with all the grains of salt and scalability adjustments… it’s just… wow…

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

Even admitting that 7500 is too much for such a massive company, and I genuinely have no idea if that's the case of not, what really matters today is that:

  • it would be the fault of the old bosses, not the employees
  • it would not be an excuse for the behavior of the new bosses
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wadecodez profile image
Wade Zimmerman • Edited on

This was my initial reaction. How many people does it really take to run Twitter? It's literally a CRUD app with ads! How complicated could it be?

IMO too many devs out there who are clueless or go down a never ending rabbit hole like AI, block chain, or code quality. My initial guess is Twitter was pouring money into trendy stuff with no real goals.

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett

This is certainly how you dismantle a company on purpose?

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leob profile image
leob

After first purchasing it for 40 billion, lol ...

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adam_cyclones profile image
Adam Crockett • Edited on

When your the richest man in the world, what's 40bill?

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leob profile image
leob

Pocket change :-D

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

Is Elon Musk a terrible boss?

Glassdoor reviews have a clear answer to this question: YES.

Forget about the personality cult, the billions, the story telling that he is the next Steve Jobs, and just look at the Glasdoor Reviews below. How would you react if a friend was working in such an environment?

I think and I hope that Twitter employees are rushing to the job boards.

Life is too short to sacrifice all your precious time to the ego of someone else.

TESLA Glassdoor Reviews

SpaceX Glassdoor Reviews

Try this instead

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leob profile image
leob

Terrible man, so logically also a terrible boss ... what I know is that he immediately reversed Twitters "work remotely" policy - his minions need to come to the physical office again, so that he can feel like a proper dictator, lol.

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integerman profile image
Matt Eland

I've been through only one massive layoff. That day the entire company had to meet with HR one by one to find out if we kept our jobs. 25% of the organization didn't.

I was one of the survivors and I technically got a promotion out of it... but it was brutal. It was rough to go through, it was rough to survive, and you felt for those who you said goodbye to, while feeling anger that it was even necessary.

The experience changed me. For one thing, I'm now hyperactive on LinkedIn simply because I found myself in a situation where I suddenly had a bunch of friends who needed jobs and I found myself unable to connect them with people looking to hire. For another, it made me always assume that I might be fired at any time without even a compelling reason. This made me always have multiple things going on to give me added flexibility and visibility in case I needed to search.

I've also seen organizations get acquired and their products suddenly are viewed drastically differently by organizational leadership. What was previously "your baby" is suddenly someone's odd inherited contraption that they don't understand or even know if they want to keep.

I feel for everyone at Twitter and their friends and families. This had to have been brutal for all of them.

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sherrydays profile image
Sherry Day
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mfurmaniuk profile image
Michael

Just another reason why people aren't loyal to companies any longer, when they can easily dismiss you for arbitrary reasons no one wants to work for a culture like that.

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leob profile image
leob

He's increasingly unhinged and out of touch with reality, but hey - when you're the richest person on the planet, with a gazillion dollars in the bank, then I totally understand when you wanna go off and be a proper tyrant, and that you feel justified and entitled to be a total jerk ...

I mean, what would otherwise be the point of having all those billions? :-D

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codebucks profile image
CodeBucks

I'm not expert in this but I think these companies shouldn't just lay off the people who worked hard enough to make them millions. I think there's always a way to use such human resource. No doubt they should fire people who haven't worked enough as required.

I don't really understand why these companies don't think other ways to tackle the economic issues.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ • Edited on

US companies do it because they have the power to do it, so why wouldn't they use it?

There are no checks and balances in the US economic system.

In United States labor law, at-will employment is an employer's ability to dismiss an employee for any reason, and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal. When an employee is acknowledged as being hired "at will", courts deny the employee any claim for loss resulting from the dismissal. The rule is justified by its proponents on the basis that an employee may be similarly entitled to leave their job without reason or warning. The practice is seen as unjust by those who view the employment relationship as characterized by inequality of bargaining power.

I'm not German but I have worked in Germany and I have always marvelled that German workers have the right to elect their own representatives to their companies' supervisory boards.

Read this, it sounds technical but I find it fascinating

Co-determination: Representing workers, the German way – DW – 12/12/2017

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codebucks profile image
CodeBucks

Wow! Then people should think twice before joining any US based company i guess. I think because of such laws I heard that the standard of living in Germany is good.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Yes but everyone should think twice before joining any company in any country. Because that's one of the most important decisions you take in your life.

I know reasonably well the culture of very different countries:
France, Germany, California, Japan, Colombia
I have very good friends in all of those countries.
I have had deep discussions with them in their mother tongue.

I don't think that any country has its shit figured out.
Every country has some pretty fucked up aspects and some beautiful ones.
Pretty much like every human being is broken and awesome at the same time.

So there is no escape, you need to have to take your own decisions for your own life.
If you don't know how, those are great questions to start with

In case you need help, my email is available here
jmfayard.dev/

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maxart2501 profile image
Massimo Artizzu

I really don't know where this is going, but given Musk's completely distorted concept of "free speech" my impression is... not good. Suffices to say that he's accusing "activists" of "destroying" free speech (in America) because they're pushing advertisers to get out of Twitter, when activism is perhaps the most exemplary proof of free speech.

It's probable Twitter won't be the same in a year. And won't be for the better.

For the rest, I'm quite unhappy mainly for two reasons:

  1. One is personal, as Twitter is basically the only social network I use (many don't see DEV as something more than a blogging platform) and I fear it won't be usable/useful anymore in the future.
  2. The other is sadness for all those laid off, in a moment when it seems that a lot of IT companies are laying off too.
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airbrake profile image
Airbrake.io

A little late to the discussion, but our hearts really do go out to those who were laid off.

In light of what's been going on, we did create a dev.to article with some job resources for developers. If you have any leads on jobs, want to contribute some of your own resources, or offer advice in the comments, we sure would welcome it!!!

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