‘Ddoing difficult things requires sacrifice”, Esther Crawford tweeted in November when a picture of her sleeping on the floor in his office has gone viral. Elon Musk had just taken over the reins of Twitter and told his new hires they had to be ready either to go”extremely hardcore” or go home. Crawford, the leader of Blue Twitter at the time, was clearly ready to prove that she was as hardcore as possible.
Alas, she was risking back pain for nothing. Over the weekend, Twitter laid off about 200 people, approximately 10% of its current workforce, including Crawford. His dismissal made waves: If someone as dedicated to Twitter as Crawford wasn’t safe, then who was? And it’s not like Crawford and the others were fired out of sympathy; they were abruptly fired on a Saturday night. Martijn de Kuijper, a senior product manager who was also a victim of Musk’s latest slaughter, tweeted that he found out he had been fired when he woke up on Sunday to find his email had been blocked. “People are getting emails at 2 a.m. on Saturdays and access is cut off immediately,” said a poster on Blind, a platform for verified employees to communicate anonymously. “This will go down as one of the most extreme layoffs in company history.” Live by the hardcore sword, die by the hardcore sword. And this sword, by the way, knocked down a lot of people. Before Musk, Twitter had 7,500 employees; now it has less than 2,000.
Does Crawford regret everything she sacrificed for Twitter? If she does, she silences them. “The worst take you could have watching me go all-in on Twitter 2.0 is that my optimism or my hard work was a mistake,” Crawford said. tweeted sunday, in response to his shot. “Those who jeer and mock are necessarily on the sidelines and not in the arena.”
I’m very aloof – I’m not going to argue with that. But I’m not here to mock or mock. I take no satisfaction in someone being fired. On the contrary, I think it’s depressing that so many people drank Musk’s Kool-Aid. To sacrifice your personal life in the service of a megalomaniac who will cut you dry without a second thought is deeply sad. Hard work and optimism is good! But think of a deeply immature narcissistic like Musk doesn’t care about anyone other than himself, we’ve learned, isn’t great.
Not great either? The fact that many tech CEOs seem to be watching what Musk is doing on Twitter with great interest. To paraphrase Scott Galloway of the high-profile tech podcast Pivot, if Musk can run a big tech company with about 25% of the staff it had before, chances are every other tech CEO will quickly follow. On the other side, Musk’s shenanigans seem chaotic. However, they may soon become a playbook.
Not that we should give Musk all the credit here. Its cost-cutting and ruthless layoffs are not happening in a vacuum: They are part of a larger trend of employers aggressively asserting their dominance. Not so long ago the news was full of thoughts on the great resignation And quiet stop. The United States was experiencing a dramatic increase in labor activism and unionization. It was as if the workers were finally gaining the upper hand.
Now employers are fighting back and silent resignations have been replaced by loud dismissals. There has been a wave of massive layoffs in the tech sector in 2023. While they are partly about the economy, they also seem to send a message to workers. At the same time, many large American companies have embarked on old fashioned anti-union campaigns. And, perhaps most disturbing of all, the ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case, Glacier Northwest Inc v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has huge implications for workers’ rights and the right to strike.
In all? Things are not looking good for workers. Let’s go back to Crawford’s quote: “Doing hard things requires sacrifice.” But if you sacrifice your life for your employer, chances are you’ll end up badly hit.