Uncertain future for Twitter
The future of Twitter seemed uncertain on Friday after numerous engineers from the social network took Elon Musk at his word and announced that they were leaving the company, instead of staying to give their all "unconditionally." ".
According to former employees and various US media, hundreds of employees answered "no" to the ultimatum of the new owner and boss, who had given them the choice between working tirelessly "to build a revolutionary Twitter 2.0" or leaving with three months' salary.
Half of the 7,500 employees of the Californian group were fired two weeks ago and another 700 had already resigned in the boreal summer, even before being sure that the purchase-sale operation would materialize.
"My friends are gone, a storm is brewing, and there's no financial incentive. What would you do? Would you sacrifice the time you spend with your kids over the holidays for vague promises and the chance to get rich? Richer?" summed up Peter Clowes, computer engineer and director on Twitter and "survivor of layoffs", according to his Linkedin profile.
Like many other employees he detailed his doubts and the reasons for his choice, explaining that he did not "hate Elon Musk", that he understood some of his decisions.
But only "three of 75 engineers" from his team have survived.
"Had I stayed, I would have been on duty almost constantly, with very little support, for an indefinite period on complex computer systems that I have no experience with," he said "N vision has been shared with us. No five-year plan like in Tesla.”
The Tesla boss wanted to buy the Californian company in the spring, to abandon the project in the summer and be forced to buy it at the end of October for $44 billion to avoid a trial.
Since then Musk has mobilized teams around the clock on contentious projects that have had to be postponed, launched a massive social plan before having to call back essential people, and made promises to advertisers while threatening them.
On Thursday night, many users of the social network, including former collaborators, journalists, and analysts, wondered if the end of Twitter was near.
The magnate in turn tweeted the well-known meme of an actor posing on a grave. The post received more than a million likes.
In a subsequent tweet, sent on Friday, he noted: "Record numbers of users are logging in to see if Twitter is dead, ironically making it more alive than ever!"
On Thursday afternoon, Twitter warned all employees that company buildings were temporarily closed and inaccessible, even for ID card entry, according to an internal memo reported by various US media.
In the evening, anti-Elon Musk messages were projected onto the facade of the company's San Francisco headquarters, right next to the logo, including "Elon Musk, shut up," "Stop toxic Twitter," or "Forward to bankruptcy."
Dozens of employees met on Thursday night in "Spaces", the platform's audio rooms, to support each other and tell anecdotes.
"Bravo to all the workers at Twitter. You have built a vital place of connection and you deserve so much better. (...) Thank you," Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted
Other lawmakers and regulators raised concerns that the service's ability to moderate content could be compromised.
The billionaire "will not be able to do what he wants" in Europe, said Frenchman Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, on Franceinfo radio on Friday.