I quit working at Twitter amid Elon Musk’s takeover bid. This is why I think it’s a problem.
- An ex-Twitter employee who left amid Elon Musk’s takeover bid spoke to Insider.
- They said it felt like layoffs were imminent and teams tried to pivot.
- They said many of their former colleagues didn’t feel safe in their jobs.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a former Twitter employee who left during Elon Musk’s bid to purchase the company. They wished to remain anonymous to speak freely about their situation. Their identity is known to Insider. This essay has been edited for length and clarity.
I worked at Twitter from early 2021 until earlier this year on the moderation team. There was a night-and-day change after the company first announced Elon Musk’s offer to buy the company for $44 billion in April.
It felt like everything halted. The company stopped backfilling roles. It limited hiring, which put huge pressure on teams. There were people who left after the Musk move because of the environment it created. It was very stressful.
There were a lot of Twitter executives saying the changes weren’t just Musk-based, and the company was in financial trouble anyway — which may be why it agreed to the deal.
You could even see scaleback in the kind of office perks that draw people to tech companies. The food wasn’t as good as it had been or there wasn’t as wide a range of snacks as there was before. It was a really weird degradation. I think removing the perks was an attempt to filter out people they thought already wanted to leave.
I’ve previously worked in companies when layoffs were happening, and it felt very similar to that
It affected work patterns for a lot of teams. People on my team worried that they needed to show their work was valuable to save their jobs and their team. Our manager told us that attrition was what the company wanted. [Editor’s note: Twitter did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.]
Lots of people were having mental-health challenges during the time. It wasn’t just that working on stuff for Twitter is tricky or that big companies are high-pressure environments. It was just unpleasant to be doing that amount of work under those uncertain circumstances.
The company canceled projects quickly and streamlined everything. You had to start quantifying the impact of your work very clearly. Even if you supported Musk taking over, it had a clear effect on the company employees couldn’t ignore.
There wasn’t a huge change in terms of the company’s policies in anticipation of Elon Musk taking over. There are people at Twitter who are still pro-moderation — the stuff that Musk supposedly stands against.
But there was a worry that content moderation might go, and very soon. That gave people an uncertainty that didn’t motivate them. You have to know your work will mean something in a few years’ time to have that motivation. And to have that great question mark over the top didn’t help.
I left partway through the takeover, months after Musk announced he wanted to take charge
The takeover felt inevitable, and I didn’t trust Parag as a leader and the decisions he was making. The fact he was the figurehead of the board in this process didn’t really give me a sense that there was a future.
I joined Twitter to learn about and improve their processes for handling misleading information and moderation, and it felt like that wouldn’t be a priority under Musk.
I read his texts over the weekend. It seems like there’ll be very quick changes that are core to the company. It seems to me that he wants to buy the Twitter name, then completely gut and change it.
There’s also the political angle to this. If his stance is going to be protecting free speech, and it means that you can’t moderate anything or that no one is going to get blocked, then it feels like he’s going to have a difficult time going up against these online safety and moderation bills and laws that are coming up around the world.
I was speaking to some former colleagues, and they think the deal will go ahead
I always thought it would. It’s quite funny — I was happy he was trying to back out, but it felt somewhat inevitable that the board would push it through.
From the start they were pushing this. While Elon Musk can try and buy as many companies as he wants, or back out of as many deals as he can, the board permitted this to go through. That was never a great feeling.
Speaking to people there, nobody feels safe in their job. I just don’t understand how it’s going to work as a company. There’s a mad attempt to restructure in some places to save face. It feels like the perfect time to try and get out — or prepare yourself for what’s going to happen.