Elon Musk Begins Layoffs at Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO — Elon Musk will begin laying off Twitter employees on Friday, culling the social media company’s 7,500-person work force a little over a week after completing his blockbuster buyout.

Twitter employees were notified in a company-wide email that the layoffs were set to begin, according to a copy of the message seen by The New York Times. About half the company’s workers appeared set to lose their jobs, according to internal messages and an investor, though the final count may take time to become clear. The email instructed Twitter employees to go home and not return to the offices on Friday as the cuts proceeded.

Mr. Musk completed his $44 billion purchase of Twitter on Oct. 27 and immediately fired its chief executive and other top managers. More executives have since resigned or were let go, while managers were asked to draw up lists of high- and low-performing employees, likely with an eye toward job cuts.

Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, faces pressure to make Twitter work financially. The deal was the largest leveraged buyout of a technology company in history. The billionaire also loaded about $13 billion in debt on Twitter for the acquisition and is on the hook to pay about $1 billion a year in interest payments. But Twitter has often lost money, and its cash flow is not robust. Mr. Musk may benefit from cutting costs so the company is less expensive to operate.

Twitter’s layoffs are unlikely to be the largest in the tech industry by total number. The computer manufacturer HP cut 24,600 of its employees, about 7.5 percent, in 2008. It later cut tens of thousands more, reaching about 30 percent of its work force.

More recently, other tech companies have slashed jobs. On Thursday, Lyft said it would lay off 13 percent, or about 650, of its 5,000 employees. Stripe, a payment processing platform, said it would cut 14 percent of its jobs, or roughly 1,100.

Mr. Musk has tapped advisers and investors to help him take over Twitter. He also brought in more than 50 engineers and employees from his other companies, including the electric carmaker Tesla, to review the layoff lists of Twitter employees and the social platform’s technology.

While federal and California laws require companies to provide advance notice of mass layoffs, it was not clear whether Mr. Musk had done so. A spokesman for California’s Employment Development Department said on Thursday evening that it had received no such notices from Twitter, which is based in San Francisco and is expected to report mass layoffs to the agency.

Rumors of impending layoffs have been swirling at Twitter. On Wednesday, employees took note of a Slack message that suggested 3,738 people could be laid off. The message noted that changes could still be made to the list, according to a copy seen by The New York Times.

That evening, some employees circulated a “Layoff Guide” with tips on corporate surveillance and employment rights. One worker created software to help colleagues download important emails and documents. He was later fired, he said.

On Thursday, workers got another signal that their workplace was changing. Twitter’s “Days of Rest,” which are monthly days off so employees can rest and recharge, were removed from their calendars, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Under the terms of his deal to acquirer Twitter, Mr. Musk agreed to keep employee compensation and benefits the same for one year. Twitter workers are typically paid at least two months’ salary and the cash value of equity they were scheduled to receive within three months of a layoff date, according to an internal benefits summary seen by The Times.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Ryan Mac contributed reporting.

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