Lending Startup Backed By Benioff, Shopify Nears CEO AppointmentRead Now

From left:Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, Stephen King. Photo of Elon Musk from Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan
Nov. 5, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

On Thursday afternoon last week at Twitter’s San Francisco offices, employees in costumes milled about at the company’s Halloween party as a magician performed tricks. Some attendees speculated that the emcee for the event, dressed in a scarecrow costume, was Elon Musk, who was then hours away from becoming Twitter’s new owner (the emcee was not Musk). According to a person who was present at the event, one Twitter employee guessed incorrectly in the magician’s three-card monte game, prompting another employee to joke: “You’re fired.”

By the end of this week, there was no humor in that joke. Starting Thursday night, Musk began instituting a brutal wave of layoffs at Twitter, which were expected to reduce the company’s headcount by around 50%. Some who were fired found themselves logged out of their computers while writing an email or sitting on a video call, and others woke up to find themselves locked out of corporate email accounts and Slack. Teams working on product and engineering for ads, public relations and data centers were hit hard. Some of those who survived the layoffs found themselves ambivalent and envious of their laid-off colleagues, who got months of severance while they were left with twice the workload.

The layoffs capped one of the most extraordinary seven days for any company. While dramatic changes often follow corporate takeovers, rarely do they occur with the ferocity of events at Twitter, where Musk immediately sacked several of the company’s most senior executives after completing his acquisition last week and ordered employees to bang out projects on what many viewed as inconceivably tight deadlines. Some workers set up sleeping bags in the office so they could pull all-nighters to hit those goals, all while the threat of imminent layoffs loomed over their heads.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing google media/telecom
What Google’s AI Catch-Up Reveals
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Bloomberg.
Google is finally waking up. After weeks of excitement coursing through tech about OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, paired with news coverage of how Microsoft plans to incorporate it into products like Bing and Word, Google has made a move. The tech company once seen as a leader in artificial intelligence on Monday unveiled its version of a conversational AI service, which it calls Bard. Google said...
Latest Briefs
 
SoftBank’s Vision Fund Posts Loss for Fourth Straight Qurter
Google Announces Plans to Use Chatbot in Search
Pinterest’s Profit Plunges as Expenses Soar
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
The supplement stacks of 11 founders and investors. Photos courtesy of subjects.
The Big Read culture
The Supplement Stacks: All the Pills, Powders and Potions Filling Tech’s Kitchen Counters
When Courtney Reum wakes up in his Los Angeles home, it’s time to freeze, shake and dangle upside down.
Illustration by Getty Images.
Opinion venture capital
The Relationship Model Is Killing Venture Capital
The social and racial homogeneity of the venture capital industry has long been a source of frustration for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Verily headquarters in San Francisco. Photo by AP.
Exclusive google
Revenues Rise at Alphabet’s Biggest ‘Other Bet’ But So Do Losses
Verily, by far the biggest Alphabet unit by revenue after Google, continues to post heavy losses, according to previously undisclosed financial information.
Photos via Adept Labs, Edmund Hillary Fellowship, Gantry ML, KIT Gründerschmiede, Sci Founders, Shutterstock, Stanford University, University of Central Florida, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and YouTube.
Exclusive ai
OpenAI Is Making Headlines. It’s Also Seeding Talent Across Silicon Valley
OpenAI has just 375 full-time employees, but its buzzy chatbot, ChatGPT, is shaking up Silicon Valley.
Art by Clark Miller.
The 1:1 google
‘We Just Have to Keep Winning’: A Sonos Executive With a Colorful History Goes to War Against Google
A few months into his job as chief legal officer of Sonos, Eddie Lazarus was ready to wage war. When Lazarus joined the audio hardware company in late 2018, it was facing growing competition from tech giants like Amazon and Google.
Illustration by Clark Miller.
Opinion startups
Stop Paying People So Much
Every startup leadership team wrestles with the trade-offs between growth and profitability. This is fitting and ever shall be.