Several executives have left the company after Musk launched the takeover offer, with repercussions for countless others further down the food chain. “The feeling inside is that people have been applying for jobs, and they will continue to apply for jobs,” said the first Twitter employee.
Employees said they were particularly aggrieved by the lack of support from management when some were caught in a program designed to get them to speak out negatively about their potential new bosses. “I joined Twitter and wanted to stay,” the first employee said. “I love my job. Nothing can keep me here now — even if they go back to the way they were.”
The brain drain is likely to continue, with current employees worried about Twitter canceling job offers to applicants and the impact this might have on future applicants. One job applicant who got a job at Twitter this year but was revoked during the acquisition said they would apply to the company again, but after asking how they would eventually report to managers on internal politics and plans for the future.
Others aren’t sure Twitter’s reputational risk is as big as company insiders fear. “The real concern is that he’s going to democratize it too much and allow people to say inappropriate things on it,” said Cary Cooper, a business professor at Manchester Business School. “Shareholders will be worried because he’s business-minded.”
Cooper, however, does think the investor influence could be more pronounced. “I think there is a downside because [Musk] It would have been considered a business acquisition, and a platform,” he said. Cooper believes that Twitter’s senior leadership team will have to step up in Musk’s absence and launch a new business plan to revive the company.
But Debra Aho Williamson, head of market analysis firm Insider Intelligence, said there was little sign that would happen. “The past few months have been extremely disruptive to Twitter, preventing it from focusing on the fundamentals of its business,” she said. “If Musk can end the deal, Twitter will still face the same problems he had before he came along. Its user growth is slowing. While ad revenue is still growing slightly, Twitter is now dealing with an economic slowdown that could squeeze Ad spend across all social platforms.”
There are also staffing issues. The pile of issues could be a worry for Twitter investors. Vanguard, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Kingdom Holdings and State Street did not respond to questions about whether they thought Twitter should fight Musk in court or let the deal wind down. Ives believes investors prefer Twitter’s future without Musk, with Agrawal leading the company and recovering punitive damages from Musk. Legal experts believe Musk will have to pay a fortune if he doesn’t end up buying the company. For employees, it hardly matters. “I can’t imagine what it will be like in five years,” said the first Twitter employee. “But I know people I know won’t be here.”
The course these investors decide could be crucial in the months ahead — and whether Twitter can recover from the disruptive events of the past three months. Twitter’s stock price has fluctuated wildly since Musk first announced his involvement with the company on April 4, when he announced a 9% stake in the company. On the day he announced his stake, the price rose 27% to $49.97. It then peaked at $51.70 on April 25, when Twitter’s board accepted Musk’s offer, before falling as Musk began detailing a litany of problems he had with the platform and finding reasons to back out of the deal to the bottom.
Today, Twitter shares opened at $34.64, 12% below their value before Musk intertwined with the company. It has fallen further since then. “Musk basically screwed us up, screwed up the stock price, and spawned a lot of layoffs and layoffs,” the first Twitter employee told WIRED. “The morale is too low, no one wants to come here anyway.”
Additional reporting by Vittoria Elliott