Twitter announced mass layoffs in India on Friday, in job cuts that have affected all verticals including engineers and the entire marketing and communications department, sources have told NDTV. The firings are part of a global restructuring ordered by the social media platform's new owner Elon Musk.
While the number of people laid off was not immediately available, sources said employees in the sales, engineering and partnerships divisions were "affected", apart from the two departments that were disbanded. In all, more than 50 per cent of Twitter's India workforce of about 200 has been sacked, sources said.
"Some people in the sales and engineering department have been retained," a source said. Reports said some employees would be getting severance pay for two months following a lawsuit in California.
"It looks like employees are getting their notices and at least some will be paid until January 4," said Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney who filed a class-action lawsuit in California on Thursday. "I am pleased that Elon Musk learned something from the lawsuit we brought against him at Tesla and is making an effort to comply with the WARN Act. We filed this case preemptively to make sure a repeat of that violation did not happen."
The move follows a week of uncertainty about the company's future under Elon Musk, who began his innings at Twitter last week by firing the CEO Parag Agrawal among other top executives and announcing plans to charge $8 a month for a verified account.
Twitter India is yet to issue a statement or respond to a request for comment.
The company temporarily closed its offices worldwide on Friday after telling employees they would be informed by email later in the day about whether they are being laid off.
"In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday," said the email sent on Thursday, according to news agency Reuters.
Mr Musk, the world's richest person, is looking to cut around 3,700 Twitter staff, or about half the workforce, as he seeks to slash costs and impose a demanding new work ethic, according to internal plans reviewed by Reuters this week.
The company's content moderation team is expected to be a target of the cuts, tweets from Twitter employees suggested on Friday. Mr Musk has promised to restore free speech while preventing it from descending into a "hellscape".
Twitter employees vented their frustrations about the layoffs on the social network, using the hashtag #OneTeam.
The layoffs, which were long expected, have chilled Twitter's famously open corporate culture that has been praised by many of its employees.
Besides closing offices, Twitter said it was taking steps "to help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data" by temporarily revoking employee access to its operations.
The company said employees who were not affected by the layoffs would be notified via their work email addresses. Staff who had been laid off would be notified of the next steps to their personal email addresses, the memo said.
A class action lawsuit was filed on Thursday against Twitter by its employees, who argued the company was conducting mass layoffs without providing the required 60-day advance notice, in violation of federal and California law.
The lawsuit also asked the San Francisco federal court to issue an order to restrict Twitter from soliciting employees being laid off to sign documents without informing them of the pendency of the case.
"It looks like employees are getting their notices and at least some will be paid until January 4," Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney who filed a class-action lawsuit in California on Thursday, was quoted as saying by news agency Bloomberg.
"I am pleased that Elon Musk learned something from the lawsuit we brought against him at Tesla and is making an effort to comply with the WARN Act. We filed this case preemptively to make sure a repeat of that violation did not happen.
Mr Musk has directed Twitter's teams to find up to $1 billion in annual infrastructure cost savings, Reuters reported, quoting two sources familiar with the matter and an internal Slack message.
The billionaire's first week as Twitter's owner has been marked by chaos and uncertainty. Two company-wide meetings were scheduled, only to be cancelled hours later. Employees told Reuters they were left to piece together information through media reports, private messaging groups and anonymous forums.
(With inputs from Reuters)