Twitter sacks half of staff as Musk launches overhaul

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter sacked half of its 7,500-strong staff on Friday as new owner Elon Musk launched his major overhaul of the troubled company just a week after his blockbuster takeover.

An internal document seen by AFP said “roughly 50 per cent” of employees were impacted and would be denied access to company computers and email on an immediate basis.

Workers around the world were shown the door and took to Twitter to vent their frustration or disbelief and say good-bye to one Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies.

“Woke up to the news that my working at Twitter has come to an end. I am heartbroken. I am in denial,” said Ms Michele Austin, Twitter’s director of public policy for the US and Canada.

Ahead of the layoffs, Twitter closed access to its worldwide, asking employees to stay at home to await news of their fate at the company.

The cull is part of Mr Musk’s push to find ways to pay for the mammoth US$44 billion (S$60 billion) deal for which he took on billions of dollars in debt and sold US$15.5 billion worth of Tesla shares, his electric car company.

Mr Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief, has been scrambling to find new ways for Twitter to make money after his mammoth buyout, including an idea to charge users US$8 a month for verified accounts.

The moves would help overcome the potential loss of advertisers, Twitter’s main source of revenue, with many of the world’s top brands putting their ad buys on hold, spooked by Mr Musk’s well-known disdain for content controls.

The mercurial tycoon on Friday complained on Twitter of a “massive drop in revenue” that he blamed on “activist groups” that were pressuring advertisers.

“We did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America,” he added.

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