Twitter employees have warned of a ‘mass exodus’ of staff when Elon Musk takes over the company, with one describing the world’s richest man as ‘a person with questionable ethics’.
Staff on Monday were invited to an ‘all-hands’ meeting via videolink, hosted by CEO Parag Agrawal and Bret Taylor, the chair of the board. Questions submitted by staff during the 45-minute meeting were read out by the chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland.
One question asked was: ‘How does the board and Mr Musk plan on dealing with a mass exodus considering the acquisition is by a person with questionable ethics?’
Taylor replied that ‘one of the themes of today is continuity’.
He said: ‘The question of attrition: As Parag stated, one of the themes of today is continuity, and ensuring that Parag and this leadership team continues to operate the business successfully on behalf of our users, on behalf of our customers, and that has obviously been a big topic of discussion at the board.
‘And as I mentioned, an area that is important to Elon Musk as well, because of the importance of Twitter as a service.’
Leslie Berland, the chief marketing officer, on Monday read out questions submitted by Twitter staff
Musk, the world’s richest man, was described on Monday by one future employee of his as ‘a person with questionable ethics’
Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters is pictured on April 25. During Monday’s meeting, many staff asked whether they would still be allowed to work from home
Agrawal said he had seen many questions about the process, about share schemes, and about working conditions in the future. He said much was still to be clarified.
Staff were told there would be no layoffs ‘at this time’ – but no guarantees were provided when Musk takes over.
But in a sign of the possible internal unrest, new product launches were delayed amid fears, Bloomberg speculated, that employees could ‘go rogue’ and ‘push something or mess with the product on the way out the door.’
Agrawal told employees that their stock options would convert to cash when the deal with Musk closes, which he estimated would take three to six months.
According to The New York Times, he also said that they would continue to receive bonuses according to Twitter’s vesting schedule.
Employees would receive their same benefits packages for a year after the deal was finalized, Agrawal added.
He said he would try and arrange a staff forum with Musk, and said that he would remain at the company as CEO, at least until the deal was finalized.
‘He wants Twitter to be a powerful, positive force in the world, just like all of us,’ Agrawal said of Musk.
‘He believes Twitter matters.’
He urged employees to ‘operate Twitter as we always have,’ adding that ‘how we run the company, the decisions we make and the positive changes we drive — that will be on us, and under our control.’
Twitter employees are sharing their concerns in internal chatrooms, messages seen by the New York Post show.
‘We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled,’ one senior staff software engineer reportedly wrote on the company’s internal Slack channel.
The staffer called Musk an ‘a**hole,’ and tried to console his colleagues.
‘We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!).
‘The fact is that [Musk] has not talked about what he’s planning on doing in any detail outside of broad sweeping statements that could be easily seen as hyperbolic showboating,’ he added.
One site reliability engineer wrote that it was ‘physically cringy watching Elon talk about free speech.’
A senior staff video engineer announced his plans to quit, saying: ‘Not the place to say it perhaps, but I will not work for this company after the takeover.’
The employee unrest begun as soon as Musk’s successful takeover was confirmed on Monday.
‘I feel like im going to throw up..I rly don’t wanna work for a company that is owned by Elon Musk,’ one staffer said, according to New York Times reporter Talmon Smith.
Smith’s source told him that it was ‘absolutely insane’ in the internal chat rooms.
Another Twitter employee reportedly complained: ‘I don’t rly know what I’m supposed to do…oh my god, my phone’s been blowing up…We have a meeting about it at 5pm…the CEO is going to address everyone about it’ (it=elon).
‘I hate him, why does he even want this?’
The Tesla magnate, 50, agreed to pay shareholders $54.20 in cash for each share of common stock before the bombshell deal was struck
Musk vowed to protect free speech on Twitter, ‘defeat the spam bots’ and ‘authenticate all humans’ as he welcomed the acquisition.
He also revealed he planned to ‘enhance the product with new features’ and ‘make the algorithms open source to increase trust’.
But within the company, there was turmoil at the announcement.
‘I feel like he’s this petulant little boy and that he’s doing this to troll…he doesn’t know anything about our policies and what we do…his statement about our algo was f****** insane…
‘Were just gonna let everyone run amok?…nobody knows,’ the employee said, according to the New York Times.
Some Twitter staff were ‘openly rebelling’ against Musk, one observer noted, posting a screen shot of Twitter’s official Github site and posting a public response entitled ‘The Algorithm’ – with zero code.