Elon Musk says Twitter had “four months to live” before the mass layoffs

Elon Musk said Twitter had “four months to live” when he bought the platform and insisted it needed to cut costs to save it from bankruptcy.

The billionaire owner has confirmed that around 80% of his staff have been made redundant since he took over the helm.

In an extensive interview with the BBC at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, Musk said the social media platform was “spending money like it was old-fashioned” before stepping in.

Asked whether his approach to firing staff members was “casual and indifferent,” Mr Musk replied: “I wouldn’t say it was indifferent.

“The problem is that the company will go bankrupt if we don’t cut costs immediately.

“This is not a thoughtful and indifferent situation. If the whole ship sinks, then no one will have a job.

There was a US$3 billion “negative cash flow situation”, he said, which left Twitter with “four months to live”.

As a result, thousands of employees across the company have been laid off since it bought the platform for US$44bn (£35.7bn) in October.

There are now around 1,500 staff members, up from just under 8,000 when Mr. Musk took over, the boss confirmed.

    Twitter owner Elon Musk during an interview with James Clayton, right, for the BBC Breakfast show

Twitter owner Elon Musk during an interview with James Clayton, right, for the BBC Breakfast show (BBC News/PA)

The Tesla and SpaceX chief has been criticized for cutting half of the company’s full-time staff in a week, ending remote work and setting an ultimatum for remaining staff to accept longer, more intense work patterns or if he went away.

It also led to fears that the platform might find it difficult to survive with the small maintenance team and available engineers.

Mr. Musk admitted on Wednesday that the shutdown of one of Twitter’s service centers had proved “quite catastrophic” as it resulted in the platform losing much of its functionality.

But he said Twitter was now “roughly breaking even” and could be profitable again soon.

He added: “Depending on how things play out, if current trends continue, I think we could be profitable or, to be more specific, positive cash flow this quarter if things continue to go well.

“I think almost all advertisers are back or said they will. There are very few exceptions.


After his takeover of the platform, many advertisers stopped working with the site over concerns about Musk’s approach to content and moderation.

He also revealed that the old blue checkmarks will finally be removed within the next week.

Musk said last month that legacy-verified Twitter users would have their blue ticks removed from the service on April 1, unless they pay an US$8 (£6.40) monthly fee for his Twitter Blue subscription operation.

As a result, thousands of high-profile users of the platform have been prepared to lose their check marks, which can help verify their identities and distinguish them from imposters.

But the old blue mints have remained in place beyond their original April 1 deadline.

The BBC Twitter account is labeled as

Twitter account @BBC is labeled as “government funded media” (Screengrab/Twitter/PA)

Musk also said the social media site would update the BBC’s “government-funded media” tag after the broadcaster objected to the label.

The BBC reached out to Twitter last week after the designation was attached to the main @BBC account.

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