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Hundreds of employees opt out of Elon Musk’s ‘extremely hardcore’ Twitter

Musk gave Twitter staff a deadline to say if they are staying for his cultural reset of the company. Right on time, farewell emojis started pouring into Twitter’s Slack.

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Illustration: Jovana Mugosa / The Verge

Hundreds of Twitter employees have resigned ahead of Elon Musk’s “extremely hardcore” cultural reset of the company, according to internal messages seen by The Verge and employee tweets.

The fresh purge of Twitter’s ranks comes after Musk recently fired dozens of employees who criticized or mocked him in tweets and internal messages. Musk then set a deadline of 5PM ET on Thursday for all employees to respond “yes” on a Google form if they want to stay for what he is calling “Twitter 2.0;” otherwise, today would be their final day of work and they would receive a severance package.

After the deadline hit, hundreds of employees started posting farewell messages and salute emojis in Twitter’s Slack, announcing that they had said no to Musk’s ultimatum.

“I’m not pressing the button,” one departing employee wrote. “My watch ends with Twitter 1.0. I do not wish to be part of Twitter 2.0.”

Twitter had roughly 2,900 remaining employees before the deadline Thursday, thanks to Musk unceremoniously laying off about half of the 7,500-person workforce when he took over and the resignations that followed. Remaining and departing Twitter employees told The Verge that, given the scale of the resignations this week, they expect the platform to start breaking soon. One said that they’ve watched “legendary engineers” and others they look up to leave one by one.

“It feels like all the people who made this place incredible are leaving,” the Twitter staffer said. “It will be extremely hard for Twitter to recover from here, no matter how hardcore the people who remain try to be.”

“It feels like all the people who made this place incredible are leaving”

Multiple “critical” teams inside Twitter have now either completely or near-completely resigned, said other employees who requested anonymity to speak without Musk’s permission. That includes Twitter’s traffic and front end teams that route engineering requests to the correct backend services. The team that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries that every engineer at the company uses is also gone. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee said.

Several members of Twitter’s “Command Center” team, a group of engineers that is on call 24/7 and acts as the clearing house for problems internally, also tweeted about their departures. “If they go down, there is no one to call when shit breaks,” said a person familiar with how the team operates. The team that manages Twitter API for developers has also been severely gutted.

“I have worked here at Twitter for over 11 years,” one employee wrote in Twitter’s Slack as the salute emojis poured in Thursday. “Back in July, I was the 27th most tenured employee at the company. Now I’m the 15th.”

“Where did all these chopped onions come from,” another employee message read.

In a tweet Thursday evening, Musk said that “the best people are staying, so I’m not super worried.”

His first priority as Twitter’s new owner has been to fundamentally reset its work culture. In an email to employees this week that was seen by The Verge, he wrote: “Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

Many employees have chafed at Musk’s management style, and Musk himself has grown paranoid that they will sabotage the company. He met with a small group of senior engineers earlier on Thursday to hear why so many of them planned to leave, according to employees familiar with the meeting. Shortly after Musk’s deadline to opt into staying at the company hit, an unsigned email was sent to employees saying that badge access to its offices was suspended “effective immediately” until Monday.

Departing Twitter employees have been told they will receive at least three months of pay, though they haven’t had a chance to review their separation agreements yet. Employees who decide to stay also don’t know how Musk plans to compensate them with stock now that Twitter is a private company, though he has said that “exceptional” performers will receive stock awards like they do at SpaceX, his other privately-held firm.

Meanwhile, Twitter recruiters have already started reaching out to outside engineers to see if they want to join “Twitter 2.0 - an Elon company,” according to a message sent to one recruit that was seen by The Verge.

Departing employees also tweeted their decisions to leave. We’ve collected some that you can see below:

Twitter no longer has a communications department to contact for comment.

Update 12:20 AM ET November 18th: Added more details about Twitter teams impacted by resignations and tweet by Elon Musk.