Take it or Leave It: Elon Musk Gives Employees Ultimatum Amid Full Office Shutdown

Twitter employees are caught between a rock and a hard place as Elon Musk gives them the choice of leaving or committing to an “extremely hardcore” culture.

Twitter offices are shutting down and hundreds of employees have resigned. The social media exodus has begun. This came after new Twitter CEO Elon Musk issued an ultimatum on Wednesday: commit to an “extremely hardcore culture” in the company or leave with severance pay—a literal case of take it or leave it.

According to a report from Verge, the first option called for committing to an “extremely hardcore” culture at the company that involves “long hours at high intensity.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports the other option as a three-month severance pay.

With an ultimatum set by 5 PM ET Thursday, the choice was clear. And it’s no surprise, really. Hours before the curtain call, the New York Times reported a mass resignation as employees opted for the latter. Following this, Twitter announced via email that it will be closing its office buildings and disabling employee badge access until Monday.

Elon Musk Twitter Employees Mass Resignation
Many changes are set to happen for Twitter under new CEO Elon Musk’s reign. Photo Credits: Trevor Cokleyalamy

The Thinking Behind it

Word spread like wildfire—ironically within Twitter itself—with hashtags like #RIPTwitter and #GoodbyeTwitter taking center stage. Tweets were full of nostalgic longing as users reminisced on the good old days, right before the final curtain call. In fact, a good number of them even shared links to their other social media accounts on Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube as a fallback.

The Twitter exodus joins the growing list of changes that Musk has begun to implement, following his acquisition of the social media giant. These include firing top executives, charging USD$8 a month for the coveted blue check mark, and laying off a sizeable portion of the workforce. With even more people leaving, the public is left wondering: what will happen to Twitter?

Musk has other plans in mind. Set to create a “breakthrough Twitter 2.0,” the 36-hour deadline was meant to give the company a competitive edge. However, most see it as a cost-cutting measure, especially with problem after problem and many advertisers pulling out, among others—all of which lead to the looming possibility of bankruptcy.

Sending in the Calvary

With a hemorrhaging workforce to deal with, Twitter can not function as operated. In fact, reports have indicated that there are not enough engineers to run the critical internal workings of Twitter.

And we’re not just talking hundreds. They are down to two, or even zero! “I know of six critical systems, like ‘serving tweets’ levels of critical, which no longer have any engineers,” a former employee told the Washington Post. “There is no longer even a skeleton crew manning the system. It will continue to coast until it runs into something, and then it will stop.”

While Musk tried bringing in reinforcements to save the sinking ship—engineers and managers from his other companies, Tesla included, reports state that many of them are unfamiliar with the workings of social media. This may not be as helpful as intended.

Thus, the future of Twitter’s day-to-day operations—from handling complaints to policing misleading information, and just simply ensuring that the social media platform is a well-oiled ship—is very much unclear, given that thousands of employees have left in such a short amount of time.

A Rotten Rope for a Sinking Ship

Amid news of the latest departures, Musk tweets, “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one.”

Prior to the deadline, Musk and his advisers held meetings with crucial Twitter employees in order to make them stay. And in a series of confusing messages about Twitter’s remote work policy, he seemed to have retracted his stance on not letting people work from home. But is this, and the promise of an “extremely hardcore culture with long hours at high intensity” enough?

We think not. Employees are the lifeblood of every company, which means that things like tenure, safety, well-being, and career growth are just some of the bare minimum that every company needs to address. But an unceremonious layoff that left its employees out in the streets without nary a care is sure to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths.

With morale taking a hit and a rotten rope to hold onto, it may be better to just take the money and go. There is no survivor’s guilt in staying—only a looming war to be had.