Elon Musk bought and immediately took over the management at Twitter a week ago.
On a day when new owner Elon Musk started mass layoff at Twitter, including half the India staff being sacked, Twitter’s former India head Manish Maheshwari said he was not expecting this “to happen this quickly”.
Twitter has been hit by two things at the same time, he told NDTV.
“One is the imminent recession — companies have been tightening their belts. But in this case there’s the whole Elon factor and the pressure he’s facing to bring things into a much better shape than what he has inherited,” said Mr Maheshwari, who held the Twitter position until a year ago.
Speaking on the 8-dollar charge plan for verified handles, besides the sackings and other planned cost-cutting, he pointed towards a general trend of “going towards profitability”.
“We’ve seen that in the startup world in India and also globally,” he said.
While the number of people laid off in India 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 the workforce of about 200 has been sacked, sources said.
Twitter India’s product head Shirish Andhare has removed his designation from his Twitter bio but not responded to media queries, Money Control reported.
On the rationale behind changes coming in big and fast — Elon Musk took ownership just a week ago — Mr Maheshwari said, “I think one thing is clear. There is a bit of consolidation… that critical functions will be carried out centrally, such as engineering and content moderation.” This means less focus on regional specifities.
“Usually such things take time. There is a knowledge transfer and handover-takeover of functions. Here it seems they have taken a high-level view that ‘ok, are you working on a critical product, and are you working on a critical revenue stream or set of clients?’ If the answer is no, you’ve been laid off,” he explained.
“I think its pretty harsh and broad-brushed,” he added.
He described the work culture at the company when he was there. “We stood up for each other. There was a focus on learning and also teaching. There was a focus on building something with local context in mind. All that is changing.”
Asked about advertisers holding back Twitter ad spend as content moderation takes a beating due to staff cuts in particular, he said “brand safety” is important to advertisers. “They need to be sure that their ads are shown next to the right kind of content.”
Content moderation — flagging or taking down misleading and hate content, for example — has suffered ever since Elon Musk took over. He has said “activists” who are against free speech have misled companies.