BOULDER and SAN FRANCISCO — A week after the company was acquired by Tesla Inc. co-founder Elon Musk, Twitter Inc. began a massive round of layoffs Friday morning that could slash its workforce by 50%.
Twitter has a Boulder office in the S’Park development at 3401 Bluff St.
John Tayer, CEO of the Boulder Chamber, said he believed the current number of Twitter employees in Boulder was less than 200, adding that those who had lost their jobs is “hard to quantify” at this point because so much of the company’s workforce works remotely. He said he understood from his contacts within the company that it is “cutting by program.”
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Boulder mayor Aaron Brockett said on Twitter Friday evening that he had received an official notice about the cuts under the Worker Adjust and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN.
“About an hour ago I got an official WARN notice from Twitter about Boulder layoffs — 87 employees terminated,” Brockett wrote in a Tweet posted at 5:21 p.m.. “So sorry to everyone affected, I know you’ve worked incredibly hard over the years and all of us on this platform have benefited from your efforts.”
The letter was also filed with the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment.
“This letter is to inform you that Twitter, Inc. (the “Company”) will be conducting a workforce reduction affecting employees at its offices at 3401 Bluff St., Boulder, CO 80301 (“Boulder Office”),” the notification states. “As a result, we anticipate that approximately 87 employees at the Boulder Office will be terminated from the Company, with terminations expected to begin January 4, 2023.”
In an email sent to employees, the company said that “in an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday. We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”
The Twitter email stated that employees would be notified of their status Friday by 9 a.m. Pacific time, or 10 a.m. Mountain time. Employees who were not laid off will receive a notification to their Twitter work email. Workers who were cut would be notified in their personal email.
Employees — both those who lost their jobs and those who kept them — took to Twitter Friday morning to announce their job status and offer condolences to those who were cut.
My slack and email just went dark, so that’s almost definitely it for me. Over 8 years since I walked into the Gnip office, not even knowing it was going to be Twitter.— Erik Cunningham (@trinary) November 4, 2022
I’m watching my colleagues give each other praise, gratitude, and support as we find out about each new loss.
Tayer said he was confident that those laid-off Twitter employees in Boulder wouldn’t be out of work for long.
“There continues to be a demand for the technology talent that we have here in Boulder,” he said, pointing to the city’s 2.6% unemployment rate and resulting tight job market. “I imagine that there will be a great deal of interest in anybody from Twitter who has the opportunity to pursue other options.”
Tayer added that the Boulder Chamber is there to help.
“We want to make sure that the Twitter staff continues to find positive opportunities for employment and application of their talent in Boulder,” he said. “They have been a great asset in Boulder and an important part of our technology ecosystem.”
He also stressed that the chamber would continue to support Twitter in its new form as well.
“We’re here to support the Twitter team as their company charts a new course and want to see them succeed in the Boulder community,” he said.
The company temporarily has closed all offices while the layoffs are underway. Employees who were in-office or on the way were sent home.
Twitter employees have already filed a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco federal court against the company, alleging that the layoffs violate the Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The WARN Act requires companies with more than 100 employees to provide 60 days’ written notice before mass layoffs.
This is not the first time that a Musk company has been hit with a WARN Act lawsuit. In June, Tesla employees filed a lawsuit claiming that they were not properly notified of impending layoffs. That case is currently in arbitration.
All of this comes after a months-long saga during which Musk became Twitter’s largest individual shareholder, then announced his intention to purchase the company, then backed off, before finally closing the acquisition last week for $44 billion.
Many of Twitter’s top executives, including its CEO, chief financial officer, head of legal and general counsel were dismissed. The company is also going private and will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange at the start of business on Tuesday.
At Barron’s annual investment conference, Musk had no comment about the layoffs themselves but blamed his ongoing cost and revenue challenges on activists who had called on advertisers to leave Twitter. “We’ve done our absolute best to appease them and nothing is working,” Musk said.”
Twitter first came to Boulder in 2014 with its acquisition of the social media application programming interface company Gnip Inc. It expanded its presence in 2016 by leasing 30,000 square feet in the Wencel Building in downtown Boulder, doubling its employee count in the city to about 200.
Then in 2020, it leased 65,000 square feet in the S’Park office park in northeast Boulder, bringing its headcount to around 300. Earlier this year, Twitter vacated its Wencel Building offices.
“Twitter has been a faithful member of our technology ecosystem, a leader rooted in innovations that are rooted in Boulder — and that goes back to Gnip,” Tayer said. “That type of innovation and that character of business will continue to thrive in Boulder without the machinations of any single business.”
Some Twitter users expressed wariness about the direction Musk would take the 16-year-old platform and what sorts of users that would attract and lose.
“If the type of people on the platform dramatically shifts, then that’s going to change the platform just as much as actual design decisions change the platform, such as charging for verification or changing the way they do content moderation,” said Casey Fiesler, associate professor of information science at the University of Colorado Boulder, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed.
Musk’s younger brother, Kimbal Musk, founded the Boulder-based restaurant chain that includes The Kitchen and NextDoor Eatery locations.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Elon Musk is considered a co-founder of Tesla and to include information on a WARN Act filing.