Hundreds of Twitter employees appeared to flee on Thursday after Elon Musk demanded that only “extremely hardcore” staffers remain as he seeks to transform the social media giant to fit his own vision.
Musk sent a memo to staffers Wednesday morning saying Twitter would only have room for those prepared to work “long hours at high intensity,” echoing expectations at his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX.
“Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore,” he wrote. “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”
The email asked staffers to click on a link if they were prepared to meet those expectations. Anyone who declined would be offered three months’ severance, it said.
The New York Times reported that Musk and his team met with some Twitter workers who had not signed on to the new expectations just hours before the 5 p.m. deadline on Thursday, trying to stop some employees deemed “critical” to the business from leaving.
He also appeared to scale back his demand that all employees return to the office for at least 40 hours a week.
“Regarding remote work, all that is required for approval is that your manager takes responsibility for ensuring that you are making an excellent contribution,” Musk said before adding that any manager who “falsely claims” someone is doing excellent work would be fired.
But as the Thursday ultimatum period passed, it appeared that hundreds of resignations had begun to pile up, including from some employees Musk had tried to woo before the 5 p.m. deadline.
CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that the company’s Slack server was full of employees posting the salute emoji, effectively signaling their departure. One former employee who left recently described the event as a “mass exodus.”
Darcy added that the company emailed staffers later on Thursday saying it had immediately closed Twitter’s office buildings and suspended all badge access until Monday.
“We look forward to working with you on Twitter’s exciting future,” the company added in the note.
Musk finalized his $44 billion takeover of Twitter last month. He then laid off half of Twitter’s 7,500 full-time employees and reportedly fired any other workers who deigned to criticize his management style. It’s unclear how the recent bout of departures will impact the company’s ability to operate.