On Elon Musk’s Twitter, leadership’s silence has left employees confused
Another Twitter employee was able to see the team on Slack, the workplace chat tool, where company managers appear to be finalizing the exact number of employees to be laid off and how many they will receive.
By the end of the day, word had spread throughout the company that half of the layoffs—probably coming Friday—would come, and Mook wanted Twitter’s remaining employees back in the office full-time. But that word didn’t come from Field or anyone on the leadership team. It comes via Blind, the best and most frequent source of information about what’s going on at the company for some Twitter employees, and witnesses to hidden workplace gossip since the week Musk bought it for $44 billion.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and the company’s management did not confirm the discount plans.
Since Mook closed the deal on Oct. 27, employees say they haven’t had a single official communication from anyone in a leadership position at the company. They were not told that Musk had completed the acquisition, that their CEOs and senior executives had been fired, or that Musk had dissolved the board and appointed himself as CEO.
Instead, you read about Musk’s grandiose plans to reinvent the company through media reports, Musk’s tweets, back-channel private chats and blinders. Twitter’s previously open corporate culture centered on all-staff meetings and Slack channels where employees and managers share ideas, plans and jokes has become suspicious and secretive, several Twitter employees told The Washington Post for fear of retaliation.
“It seems like the culture of Twitter turned completely inside out overnight,” one employee said. “There is a mass atrocity here.”
When Mook is looking for new sources of income, he pours Twitter advertisers
The last official communication with Twitter employees came a day before Musk took over, when Twitter’s head of people, Leslie Berland, sent a cheery email titled “Elon’s Office Tour.”
“If you’re in SF and see him, say hi!” Berland wrote. “For everyone else, this is the start of many meetings and conversations with Elon, and you will all hear from him directly on Friday.”
But employees haven’t heard directly from Mac since Friday, when his planned introduction to the company was quietly canceled. The company’s regular multidisciplinary meeting scheduled for Wednesday disappeared from everyone’s calendars on Tuesday.
Berland left the company on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Berland’s departure, along with several other executives in recent days, was not announced internally or externally, leaving employees to speculate about which of their bosses had left or been fired.
Since Friday, employees have posted notes and comments on the company’s Slack every day that has gone by without a word from management. According to documents obtained by The Post, one person posted a picture of the skeleton with the caption, “Awaiting an update from management.”
In lieu of meeting with employees, Musk and his new deputy, Jason Calacanis, who were spotted at the company directory over the weekend, have been crowdfunding, rallying and publicly announcing new products and policies through their personal Twitter accounts. Twitter employees quickly learned to follow their new leaders’ Twitter feeds. For updates that are important for their work.
Musk’s inner circle worked through the weekend to solidify plans to lay off Twitter.
Three days after accepting the patent, Musk confirmed his appointment as CEO on Twitter. It has also floated a plan to charge users $8 a month for verification badges, among other perks. It announced the creation of a content moderation council to review Twitter’s speech policies. And he wanted to reassure smart advertisers that Twitter wouldn’t allow it to become a “free-for-all hellscape.”
On the company’s Slack boards, employees are posting Musk’s tweets about new features, asking them to start working on them or continue to stand by them, according to another employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal matters. Issues When Musk tweeted about what features the company’s paid subscription tier should have, most employees in the department were caught off-guard by that product, the employee said.
The staffer compared the atmosphere to Donald Trump’s administration, saying we all work for the Trump White House, where the president’s tweets announcing policies that haven’t been discussed internally could come at any time.
The culture shock on Musk’s Twitter represents a clash between the company’s famously relaxed work environment and the climate at Musk’s typical companies, and a stream of quick-to-punish underperformers who could be subject to “firearms.” It’s also a result of fear of job losses, which The Post reported told bankers that before taking over, Musk planned to cut 75 percent of the company’s workforce.
He detailed Twitter’s plans to streamline its workforce
At Tesla and SpaceX, Musk’s other companies are bound by the expectation that employees won’t talk about their work outside the company — knowing that glasses are trained on their famous CEO at all times. They are measured on their results and their ability to meet strict deadlines, and a minor disagreement with the CEO can sometimes escalate into a question of eligibility for the job.
At Tesla, some leaks are heavily scrutinized, and one employee was fired after posting videos of the company’s full self-driving beta software in action on his YouTube channel — even though the videos didn’t reveal insider secrets, according to CNBC.
While some Twitter employees say they’ve been exhausted since Musk took over, not sure what they’ll be working on, other teams have been tasked with developing new products soon. An internal email obtained by The Post on Tuesday said the company plans to launch a paid video feature to monetize adult content within one to two weeks, despite assessing the risk of significant liability.
Elon Musk is running a ‘high risk’ on Twitter’s paid video feature.
Blind has emerged as a way for Twitter employees to covertly share what they hear with others in the company, reducing the risk of being penalized for saying the wrong thing in company tools like Slack or email. In the year Launched in 2015, Blind is connected to Silicon Valley tech companies, each with their own private channel that employees can access just by verifying their company email address.
That’s where many Twitter employees are hearing the latest exec layoffs or layoffs and lamenting the dramatic upheaval in their professional lives.
A blind post from a Twitter employee seen by The Post on Wednesday simply said, “This level of silence is completely unprofessional.” Another Twitter user responded: “Silence isn’t therapy, it’s psychological warfare.”
The feeling that it’s no longer safe for managers to share information with employees via Slack was reinforced by a story in Blind this week.
On Tuesday, Twitter’s chief accounting officer, Robert Kayden, posted a Slack message explaining some of the basic details of the company’s plan to pay out employee shares after Musk buys them out. On Wednesday, his Slack account showed that he was gone. A post on Blind said he was “kicked out” of the Twitter building.
Twitter declined to comment, as did all of the executives who reportedly left after Musk took over.
Faiz Siddiqui, Gerrit De Vynck, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Cat Zakrzewski and Taylor Lorenz contributed to this report.