The Twitter Layoffs
Less than two weeks after taking over Twitter, Elon Musk undertook the brutal, unpleasant task of downsizing. While rumors originally said that he'd downsize staff by as much as 75%, it looks like ultimately ended up pulling off a Thanos type snap, and reducing the Twitter staff population by about 50%.
Twitter has been struggling, lost and in trouble for a while, so I do hope under Musk things change, and Twitter finds a new direction. The odds aren't great, but let's hope.
What surprised me in all this though, was the way Musk was vilified for undertaking the layoffs at all.
Comment threads on Hacker News, reports at The Verge and TechCrunch and pretty much everywhere else all referred to the move, in various ways, as an egotistical billionaire doing something terrible and nefarious. The insinuation was that he was being something of a Bond villain, and one headline even compared him to a poker player.
While I am no Musk fanboy, and I do have reservations about his behavior and actions, I do think that this negative coverage was quite unfair. I mean, what did people expect? Twitter was losing money, and layoffs had to be done. There simply wasn't a way around it.
So Musks's options are to either carry out the layoffs immediately after taking over, or wait for some time (maybe six months, maybe a year) and then do the layoffs.
But the implications of carrying out the layoffs at a later time are significant. If he'd done the downsizing after six months instead of immediately on taking over, it would have sent out the message that he tried a few initiatives and strategies, and failed. This would have eroded trust in Twitter as well as his leadership even more, and still led to the same result. Basically, people would have been able to blame the layoffs on his leadership and not on the leadership before him.
The fact is that Musk simply did the only thing he could possibly have done under the circumstances. I said above that he had 'options', but in practical terms, he didn't.
And those of you who think that he should have taken the time to turn the company around and make it profitable and avoided the layoffs completely: turning organizations around takes massive energy and focus and effort and money, and cannot be achieved by words alone. But if you still think that scenario should have been on the cards, please get in touch—I have a crypto bridge to sell to you.
I write about technology, user experience, product design, and more. I also review some (not all) of the books I read.