The explosive style managerial of Elon Musk in Twitter has thinned the ranks of software engineers who keep the platform running, to such a degree that Industry experts and programmers who have been fired or resigned this week believe that Twitter it could go bad and collapse soon.
Musk ended a very public spat with nearly two dozen programmers critical to the platform’s stability by ordering their firing this week. Hundreds of engineers and other workers quit after Musk demanded they either commit to working “extremely hard” or resign with severance pay.
The new departures mean the platform is losing workers just as it gears up for the World Cup in Qatarwhich opens tomorrow. It’s one of Twitter’s busiest events, when waves of tweets put a heavy strain on its systems.
“Yeah, it looks like it’s going to blow up Twitter,” said Robert Graham, a veteran cybersecurity entrepreneur. “I don’t see how the lights won’t go out any minute now,” though many of Twitter’s recent outings portended a more gradual death.
Hundreds of employees signaled they were leaving before a Thursday deadline, posting goodbye messages, a greeting emoji and other familiar symbols on the company’s internal message board in Slack, according to employees who still have access. Dozens of them have also announced their departure publicly on Twitter.
This week, some were so angered by Musk’s perceived recklessness that they took to Twitter to insult him. “Kiss my ass, Elon,” an engineer said, adding lipstick marks. She had been fired.
The Twitter address sent an unsigned email after the Thursday deadline saying its offices would be closed and employee ID card access disabled until Monday. No reason was given, according to two employees who received the email, one who accepted the severance pay and one who remains on the payroll. Both spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
With a squad of Tesla programmers at his side as he ransacked a once-pleasant workspace, Musk didn’t seem alarmed.
“The best stay, so I’m not super worried,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted Thursday night. But it soon became clear that some crucial programming teams had been completely blown up.
In a sign of the programmer shortage, Musk sent emails to all employees yesterday calling “anyone who writes software” to his command post on Twitter’s 10th floor at 2:00 p.m., asking them to fly to San Francisco if they weren’t local, said the employee who quit Thursday but continued to receive emails from the company.
After taking control of Twitter less than three weeks ago Musk fired half of the company’s 7,500 full-time employees and an untold number of freelancers responsible for content moderation and other crucial tasks. Then came this week’s ultimatum.
Three engineers who left this week described to The Associated Press why they hope Twitter’s more than 230 million users are pretty uncomfortable now that more than two-thirds of Twitter’s core services engineers have left. Although they don’t foresee a collapse any time soon, Twitter could become very rough around the edges, especially if Musk makes major changes without much off-the-shelf testing.
Signs of wear and tear were evident before Thursday’s mass outing.
Nothing critical has failed yet, they say
“There is a pool for when that will happen,” said one of the engineers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Musk that could affect their careers and finances.
Another said that if Twitter has been shutting down servers and “all of a sudden a lot of volume comes in, it could start to crash.”
“The World Cup is the biggest event for Twitter. It’s the first thing you learn when you join Twitter,” she said.
With previous layoffs of curation employees, Twitter’s trending pages were already suffering. The technical problems began Tuesday when Musk announced on Twitter that he had begun shutting down “microservices” that he deemed unnecessary “bloatware.”
“It actually takes less than 20% for Twitter to work!” he tweeted.
That generated opposition from the engineers who told Musk he had no idea what he was saying.
“Microservices are the way most large modern web services organize their code to allow software engineers to work quickly and efficiently,” explained Gergely Orosz, author of the Pragmatic Engineer blog.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.