On Thursday evening, as a massive wave of Twitter employees reportedly resigned in response to a heavy-handed ultimatum from their new digital Caesar, Elon Musk, some interested party weighed in on this ongoing honeymoon stage of the Twitter-Musk union by projecting pithy descriptors of the social media platform’s new custodian on an exterior wall of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco.
The Musk critique that scrolled twitchy-blue along one side of the Market Street building labeled the Tesla and SpaceX chief, whose Twitter takeover has been very noisy but miserably anti-quixotic: “bankruptcy baby, supreme parasite, petulant pimple, apartheid profiteer, dictator’s asskisser, lawless oligarch, insecure colonizer, cruel hoarder, space Karen, mediocre manchild, pressurized privilege, petty racist, megalomaniac, worthless billionaire” before cycling again to “bankruptcy baby.”
— Muskrat McRatfu*ker needs to resign as CEO (@christoq) November 18, 2022
While that’s good stuff, the Twitter staffers would stress that this is one of the few occasions in Musk’s pursuit that is not a war of words (and if it were, “crybaby bastard” has a long and glorious service in describing Musk among old school Elon watchers). Workers fleeing the social media platform say that what’s transpired in just the last few days of a takeover that became official three weeks ago has turned into an existential crisis at the frantic hands of the Tesla and SpaceX baron, a now possibly-friendless reactionary who, some say, accidentally forced the $44 billion purchase he never actually wanted on himself through his own endless, insufferable hubris and need for attention.
Having already made good on threats to fire half the company’s 7500 employees, Musk issued a decree Wednesday demanding that anyone who intends to stay aboard his “Twitter 2.0” promises “to be extremely hardcore.”
Specifically, he told his company survivors after destroying their colleagues’ livelihoods, “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.”
Musk gave the recipients until 5 p.m. Thursday to accept his terms, the Washington Post reported.
By mid-Wednesday, according to the Post, members of Twitter’s Trust and Safety team—the “hate speech” and “misinformation” watchdogs—were discussing a mass resignation from the site.
By Thursday, it was clear many employees had elected not to get hardcore, certainly not extremely hardcore, over highly intense and long hours, during which their performance would or would not earn them a “passing grade” with Musk, and are perhaps beginning to wonder what will even be left of Twitter when LonZilla finishes stomping all over it.
The Verge reports that hundreds have quit Twitter, including several “critical” teams inside the company that have already either completely or near-completely resigned, including Twitter’s traffic and front end teams responsible for 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, according to the site.
“You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee told the Verge.
Meanwhile, news of the runaway staff can be found shared across the platform as they abandon it, creating a kind of Pompeiian time capsule, preserved forever in the dead ashes of Mount Musk’s initial eruption, should it prove to be the end.
Sooo I’m told by two people that the entirety of Twitters payroll department has resigned/not elected to sign up for Elons Twitter 2.0
— Kali Hays (@HaysKali) November 18, 2022
Twitter offices will remain closed today and through the weekend with the Platformer’s Zoe Schiffer sharing this company note: “Offices will reopen on November 21st. In the meantime: “Please continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential company information on social media, with the press or elsewhere.”
Offices will reopen on November 21st. In the meantime: "Please continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential company information on social media, with the press or elsewhere."
— Zoë Schiffer (@ZoeSchiffer) November 17, 2022
Despite the ice beneath him, Musk seems to think he’s pulled off a perfect Pee-Wee Herman meant-to-do-that, tweeting on Thursday: “The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried.”
The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 18, 2022
There was no good way to check with the company about all this excitement. Musk has famously little use for corporate communications departments. He shuttered Tesla’s comms house in 2020 and, according to Axios, made short work of Twitter’s own long-suffering department last week, dispatching all but one. CNN sought a word with the company, but reports back, “Twitter’s already decimated communications department didn’t respond to requests for comment.”
The Verge also confirmed, “Twitter no longer has a communications department to contact for comment.”