Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner and the CEO of Tesla, denied a report by the New York Times that alleged he will fire Twitter employees just before they are set to receive their November 1 compensation in the form of stock grants.
“This is false,” Musk responded to a tweet by ProPublica’s deputy managing editor, Eric Umansky, that highlighted the New York Times report.
The Times report claimed that employees are being cut before the 1st as a cost-cutting measure. “The layoffs at Twitter would take place before a Nov. 1 date when employees were scheduled to receive stock grants as part of their compensation. Such grants typically represent a significant portion of employees’ pay,” The Times reported.
“By laying off workers before that date, Mr. Musk may avoid paying the grants, though he is supposed to pay the employees cash in place of their stock under the terms of the merger agreement,” the piece continued.
The report cited Ross Gerber, an investor who helped Musk finance the takeover, to report that Musk plans to cut around 50 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 people workforce. Geber’s comments about the expected cuts did not detail the timing of the layoffs.
Musk has promised to make vast changes to Twitter. Upon taking control of the company, he immediately fired the company’s top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal, who argued the company should deemphasize the importance of free speech, and Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde, who was behind the decisions to ban then-President Trump from the platform and to censor the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story in the weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
Musk has said ensuring free speech and turning the company profitable by better monetizing ads on the platform are his main goals. Although Twitter has been one of the most popular social media platforms in the world for over a decade, the company has struggled financially for years. It only turned profits in 2018 and 2019, and posted net losses every other year since 2012.
However, Musk’s vision for a Twitter that reaffirms its commitment to free speech and open inquiry is not unanimously supported. Despite many Americans’ expressing optimism that Musk’s reign will usher in a new era of open debate, the Wall Street Journal reported that some advertisers have threatened to leave the platform if Trump is reinstated.
Musk said Friday he will not reinstate banned accounts until the convening of a “content moderation panel.” Last week, he also published a letter to Twitter’s advertisers to reassure them that the platform would adhere “to the laws of the land” and “be welcoming to all”.