Elon Musk Indicates Twitter Will Have Layoffs in Town Hall With Employees

·3-min read

Amid Elon Musk’s pending $44 billion takeover of Twitter — which still isn’t guaranteed — the mega-billionaire fielded questions from the social network’s staffers Thursday.

A top-of-mind question for Twitter employees: Will there be layoffs if he completes the deal? Musk said there needs to be a “rationalization of headcount,” per Reuters. The company “needs to get healthy,” he said, adding that “Anyone who is a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about,” Bloomberg reported.

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He also said, “Right now costs exceed revenue. That’s not a great situation,” per a report by the Verge. Twitter reported Q1 revenue of $1.20 billion, up 16% year-over-year, and net income of $513 million.

Musk has said he wants to make Twitter adhere to principles of “free speech,” and he has accused the company of censoring conservatives. Asked Thursday during the Twitter Q&A about his thinking on the topic, Musk said users should be allowed to say “pretty outrageous things” but drew a distinction between that and giving tweets “freedom of reach,” according to a Wall Street Journal account.

As for why Musk — a Twitter power user who is fond of jokes and memes — likes the service, he responded, “Some people use their hair to express themselves, I use Twitter,” according to a now-deleted tweet from Nola Weinstein, Twitter’s global head of brand experiences and engagement.

The key points from Musk during the meeting, according to Weinstein in another now-deleted post, were that the “Goal is to make Twitter so compelling you cant live without it & everyone wants to use it”; “Bias is strongly to working in person”; and “If there are 2 sides to an issue it’s important to represent multiple opinions. Most issues in the world are complex.”

Musk told Twitter staffers he wants the company to reach 1 billion users — up from 229 million daily active users in Q1 — and said that he sees advertising continuing to be an important part of the business, per Reuters.

Musk also said it was important that Twitter users not see “boring” content, and noted that TikTok does a great job of keeping people “entertained,” per the New York Times. He praised WeChat, the Chinese social app, as an example of a highly engaging service Twitter should emulate.

Last week, Musk threatened to call off his bid to acquire Twitter over the company’s refusal to provide data proving that spam and fake accounts represent less than 5% of active users — calling that a “material breach” of the agreement. Subsequently, Twitter reportedly offered Musk access to its full “firehose” of raw data, including more than 500 million tweets posted daily.

Musk is on the hook to pay a $1 billion breakup fee if he walks away from the deal (and could be the target of lawsuits by Twitter shareholder or Twitter itself) unless he can demonstrate that Twitter significantly misled him about factors related to the company’s value. Wall Street has viewed Musk’s saber rattling over the spam/bot issue as an attempt to drive down the deal price, or to give him a pretext to abandon the acquisition.

Twitter shareholders will vote in late July or early August on whether to approve Musk’s bid for the company, company lawyer Vijaya Gadde said in a staff meeting, Bloomberg reported previously.

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