By Sultan Quadri
Social media company Twitter has laid off many employees today, according to multiple social media posts by former employees. Earlier today, Twitter employees woke up to find that they had been logged out of their work emails, and could not turn on their work laptops or access their work tools. TechCabal can confirm that several members of the 20-person Twitter team in Africa have been laid off; a source says this figure could be as high as half the team.
Bernard Kafiu Sokpe, popularly known as Mistameister, a Senior Partnership Officer at the Twitter Africa office, tweeted a farewell message at 8:59 am today.
It’s been a year working at a place I never imagined I’ll ever get to work.I’m glad that I could represent for Africa & I didn’t let us down. My best career experience by far & it was beautiful whilst it lasted.Much love to all the amazing tweeps that made it worth it. #OneTeam
— Meistermind (@mistameister) November 4, 2022
In April 2021, Twitter set up its presence on the continent by hiring a local team stationed in Ghana. Just earlier this week, it launched its office in Ghana.
Although TechCabal can not confirm the number of Twitter employees on the continent that were let go, the layoffs are set to affect Twitter’s new presence in Africa. It threatens the establishment of new offices on the continent, notably in Nigeria, where the establishment of a physical office is tied to the continued availability of the microblogging app in the country. According to several sources, Twitter’s Africa office is still open for now and the atmosphere at the Ghana office is “chill”.
On Thursday, an unsigned company-wide email, seen by TechCabal, braced up Twitter’s 7,500 employees for potential job cuts and instructed them to vacate the office and await emails that would decide their fate. Elon Musk’s buyout of Twitter on October 27th ushered in these layoffs that could potentially affect more than 3,700 employees.
“In an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce,” the email reads. “We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is unfortunately necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”
The email said that by 9 am Pacific time on Friday November 4, laid-off employees and unaffected employees would receive another email titled “Your Role at Twitter” via their personal emails and work email respectively.
Employees at Twitter’s Africa office who received the Friday email through their personal emails are still confused about the status of their employment as the emails say they are suspended. “For the avoidance of doubt, this suspension does not mean your employment has been terminated,” a part of the email reads. One employee called this layoff “stylish” and called out Elon for “coming for our jobs like the second coming of Jesus. In our sleep and like a thief in the night.”
Although the social media company had banned employees from discussing “confidential company information” on social media, with the press or elsewhere, following the layoffs staff members have launched the hashtag #OneTeam where they are sharing their layoff experience and expressing solidarity with one another. Former Twitter employees, including those on the Africa team, have also updated their social media bios to reflect their exit from the company.
Some insiders with knowledge of the matter said that while the US team is set to be on the payroll until January 2023, it is unclear if the African team will enjoy the same privilege.
These layoffs also raised questions about the dispensability of African offices of tech companies. It also threatens the continued viability of Twitter as a voice for millions of Africans, who are now anticipating the glitches and fixes Musk’s reign will bring.
However, on Thursday, former Twitter employees in a class action sued Twitter for the mass layoff’s short notice in violation of United States employment law. According to the US’s federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, large companies must give a 60 days notice before initiating mass layoffs.
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