twitter inc drafted plans for sweeping layoffs as part of a multi-day whirlwind in which new boss Elon Musk fired top executives, saying it was for cause, tried to reassure users and advertisers about content moderation and continued accepting jokes and controversies on the site.
The proposed layoffs under consideration of Mr. Musk, who took the social media platform private on Thursday for $44 billion, they are expected to cut engineering positions and affect other areas of the company, according to a person familiar with the plans. Twitter has roughly 7,500 employees, according to a disclosure earlier this year. The full scale of the cuts being discussed could not be determined.
Mister. Musk fired the CEO of Twitter Parag Agrawal and three other top executives for a cause and says he is not obligated to pay them the expected multimillion-dollar severance packages, according to two people familiar with the matter. Departing executives are weighing their options, one of the people said. Mister. Agrawal did not respond to a request for comment.
Twitter’s top two executives were set to collect more than $100 million in severance packages, according to figures previously disclosed in securities filings, according to an estimate by Equilar, a compensation data and analytics firm.
Since taking office, Mr. Musk has been working with a team of associates that includes former Twitter product leader and venture capitalist Sriram Krishnan and attorney Alex Spiro. Mister. Krishnan tweeted on Sunday that he was helping Mr. Musk with Twitter “temporarily with some other cool people.”
Twitter posted losses in eight of its last 10 fiscal years, according to FactSet, and Mr. Musk’s acquisition comes as the social media industry grapples with the stormiest business environment in its history.
Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc scared investors with a slowdown in revenue and the commitment to spend tens of billions more on the metaverse construction, which has yet to attract a significant user base. Target Market Value fell below $300 billion for the first time since early 2016. YouTube posted its first Decline in advertising revenuewhile Snapchat’s parent Snap Inc. has warned investors that it is operating on a No revenue growth this quarter compared to the previous year.
One of Mr. Musk’s first topics is to address costs, according to people familiar with the matter. He told employees in June that he believed costs were “not a big deal” on Twitter, according to people who viewed a virtual meeting at the time. He did not rule out layoffs at the time, adding that anyone who is a significant contributor should not worry, according to the people. The New York Times previously reported on Twitter’s plans for job cuts and the issue of severance pay.
Several employees have said they are concerned that Mr. Musk could move to cutting jobs before November 1. 1, which is an award date for Twitter’s compensation program. Employee grants were expected to be paid in cash after Mr. Musk’s acquisition, according to people familiar with the matter. Several employees have said they are concerned that Mr. Musk might try to avoid making those payments if his employment ends before November 1. 1.
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“This is false,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Sunday night, responding to a tweet highlighting concern in a New York Times article.
On Thursday, Mr. Musk took steps to secure Madison Avenue, releasing a letter saying he firmly believed “that advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform.” On Friday, he told advertisers that Twitter would “form a content moderation board with very diverse viewpoints.” He added, “No major content decisions or account resets will be made before that council meets.”
Some advertisers have raised concerns that Mr. Musk’s stated commitment to free speech will lead to a groundswell of content that is offensive to some users or, at the very least, unsuitable for advertisers.
“Twitter’s ad business is already on shaky ground,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, a market research firm. In the coming days, she told her, Mr. Musk will need to “establish clear guidelines for what content moderation it will look like it wants to keep advertisers.”
Twitter spent part of the weekend addressing some content issues that arose in the wake of Mr. Musk’s decision to take office.
Several nonprofit organizations have pointed to a sudden rise in hate speech on the platform in recent days, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Network Contagion Research Institute.
The ADL, a Jewish advocacy group that examines anti-Semitism in the US, said it identified more than 1,200 tweets and retweets spreading anti-Semitic memes and called it a coordinated effort who followed mr. Musk’s inauguration. The Network Contagion Research Institute, which studies social threats online, tweeted data on Friday showing that the use of the N-word on Twitter jumped 500% in the previous 12 hours.
The star of the National Basketball Association LeBron James cited the data on Saturday, tweeting: “I don’t know Elon Musk and to be honest I couldn’t care less who owns Twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope that he and his people take it very seriously because he is scary.” He added: “So many fucking unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s chief security and integrity officer, said Saturday that a small number of accounts were behind many of the smear or hateful content tweets, including 50,000 tweets from a 300-account racial slur. The company is taking steps to ban users involved in the “trolling campaign” and will continue to work to address the issue, he said.
Mister. Musk also got into the controversy. On Sunday morning, he tweeted a link to an internet post that speculatively questioned what happened in Friday morning’s violent attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “There is a slim chance there is more to this story than meets the eye,” Mr. Musk tweeted. He later deleted the tweet.
—Sarah E. Needleman contributed to this article.
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