Musk gives Twitter staff a deadline to commit to long hours and be ‘tough’

Elon Musk gave the rest of the Twitter staff a deadline Thursday to commit to working “long hours at high intensity” and being “extremely hard” or walk away with three months of severance pay.

In an email to employees of the social media platform, seen by The Guardian, its new owner said that building the next iteration of Twitter would require “exceptional performance.”

“Going forward, to build a revolutionary Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely tough. This will mean working many hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade,” Musk wrote.

The message asked staff to click a link if they wanted to be “a part of the new Twitter” by 5:00 pm New York time (10:00 pm GMT) on Thursday.

Anyone who has not affirmed their commitment by that deadline, Musk said, will receive three months of severance pay.

“Whatever decision you make, thank you for your efforts to make Twitter successful,” Musk added in the email, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

Musk added that Twitter would be “much more engineering driven” under his ownership and that “those who write great code will make up the majority of our team.”

The ultimatum follows a severe jobs bloodbath at Twitter in early November in which Musk laid off 50% of the 7,500-strong workforce within days of taking over the company. Musk also reportedly fired more than 4,000 contractors, including members of Twitter’s moderation teams, over the weekend.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said Musk could face challenges over the ultimatum if he follows through by firing staff who don’t comply.

“The federal Advisory (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act) and the California analog require employers of 500 or more workers to notify employees in writing within 60 days of layoffs. If employers don’t, employees can sue, and some Twitter employees did in the recent round of layoffs. The relief though is 60 days of late pay and Musk is giving 90 days in his latest tweet.”

There has also been an executive exodus at the company, which began with the firing of then-CEO Parag Agrawal after the acquisition was completed, and was followed this month by the resignation of key members of the remaining senior management team, including trust and safety officer Yoel Roth.

Staff members who criticized Musk on Twitter have also been fired, including Eric Frohnhoefer, a Twitter engineer who told Musk that a tweet about the platform had been incorrect. Musk later tweeted: “he has been fired.”

That post was later removed, though Frohnhoefer, who was asked for comment, tweeted a photo of a locked computer screen and discussed his departure with the Platformer tech newsletter.

Musk also announced Tuesday night that the launch of a new verification scheme on Twitter would be delayed until November 29. Attempts to re-identify users have triggered a slew of fake accounts that led to the apparent suspension of the service last Friday and cemented an advertiser boycott already underway.

Musk wrote on Twitter that he was “relaunching Blue Verified through November 29 to make sure it’s rock solid.” Twitter had launched its premium service, Twitter Blue, with a monthly price of $8 that included a blue tick, which marks a verified and trusted account, on November 9.

However, the move caused several mischievous users to jump at the chance to open fake accounts. Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co has been forced to apologize after an imposter account, with a blue tick, tweeted that insulin was free. Nintendo, Lockheed Martin and Musk’s own Tesla and SpaceX were also spoofed, as were the accounts of various professional sports figures.

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