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Twitter cuts a large number of contract workers without giving internal teams a heads up

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In this photo illustration a Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen with Elon Musk Twitter in the background in Athens, Greece on October 30, 2022. Elon Musk begins his Twitter ownership with firings.

Nikolas Kokovlis | Nurphoto | Getty Images

A large number of Twitter’s contract workers discovered they were suddenly terminated this weekend after they lost access to Slack and other work systems, according to internal communications shared with CNBC by full-time Twitter employees.

An estimated 4,400 of its 5,500 contract workers were cut, according to Platformer, which first reported on the cuts. CNBC has not confirmed the total number.

Some of Twitter’s contract workers were based overseas in India, among other locations. Full-time employees, who asked to remain un-named since they were not authorized to speak on behalf of Twitter, said that they had no internal notice before contractors they were collaborating with were let go.

Twitter has dismissed all of its internal communications team, according to these employees. They also cracked bitter jokes that media outlets covering the company are now filling the role of internal communications.

The cancellation of contractors’ work would mark the latest reduction at the social media platform, which already laid off approximately half of its employees following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company on Oct. 28.

Musk and Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey apologized last week for growing the company “too quickly,” a day after the social media company carried out the layoffs. Dorsey personally endeavored for Musk to take over his company in a contentious leveraged buyout and has rolled his own shares into the new holding company.

As of June 30, 2013, shortly before Twitter went public, it had approximately 2,000 employees, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. By the end of last year, the company reported that it had grown to around 7,500 full-time employees.

Musk addressed the layoffs in a tweet on Nov. 4, writing: “Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day. Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required.”

Since he has taken over, Musk has informed remaining Twitter employees that he sold billions of dollars worth of shares in Tesla, his electric vehicle business, to “save” Twitter. It’s not clear if Musk will continue to sell Tesla shares to pay down Twitter’s debt.

He also told Twitter employees that bankruptcy is not out of the question for the social media business amid an economic downturn, and as advertisers have fled or paused spending on the platform during his rocky takeover.

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