Hundreds of Twitter workers are reportedly leaving the tech giant after rejecting Elon Musk’s ultimatum to staff to sign a pledge vowing to “work long hours at high intensity”.
Twitter’s offices in San Francisco are closing until Monday, with access suspended to staff with passes, but no reason given, according to reports.
A video projection beamed onto the outside of the headquarters contained insults aimed at Mr Musk.
Following his £37bn takeover of Twitter, the billionaire Tesla owner has reportedly fired around half of its full-time staff, with engineers who questioned him on the firm’s Slack channel among those shown the door this week.
Thousands of contractors are also believed to have been fired, with the departures sparking fears about the stability of the social media giant, which has around 450m users.
Among those who have left are engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages.
A message to staff announcing the office closures, seen by the BBC, read: “Please continue to comply with company policy by refraining from discussing confidential company information on social media, with the press or elsewhere.”
It comes after Mr Musk reportedly wrote to staff saying they needed to be “extremely hardcore” to build a “breakthrough Twitter 2.0”.
The email asked staff to click “yes” by 5pm if they wanted to keep their jobs, it is reported.
Those who did not sign up to the pledge would be forced to leave and given three months’ severance pay.
It’s not clear how many of Twitter’s staff took Musk up on his offer, but the loss of its employees comes ahead of the World Cup, one of the busiest events on Twitter that can overwhelm its systems if things go haywire.
In a poll on the workplace app Blind, which verifies employees through their work email addresses and allows them to share information anonymously, 42 per cent of 180 people chose the answer for “Taking exit option, I’m free!”.
Mr Musk was meeting some top employees to try and convince them to stay, according to one current employee and a recently departed employee in touch with Twitter colleagues.
Taking to Twitter late on Thursday night, the owner said he wasn’t worried about resignations as “the best people are staying”.
He later tweeted a picture of a gravestone emblazoned with the Twitter logo and posted: “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one.”
Reports of Twitter outages rose sharply from less than 50 to about 350 reports on Thursday evening, according to website Downdetector, which tracks website and app outages.
One employee, Esther Crawford, who is remaining at the company and been working on the overhaul of the platform’s verification system, tweeted: “To all the Tweeps who decided to make today your last day: thanks for being incredible teammates through the ups and downs. I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
During the chaotic three-week period of his spell in charge of the social media platform, the SpaceX founder abruptly pulled the plug on new “official” labels given to some accounts within hours of launching the verification scheme.
Twitter, which has lost many of its communication and press team members, has been approached for comment.