Twitter is laying off a portion of its recruiting team after previously saying it would pause most hiring. The move comes as Twitter continues to await a pending acquisition by Elon Musk, a process that has been marked by confusion and contention between the social media company and the billionaire Tesla CEO.
Several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, on Thursday reported that Twitter would lay off around 30% of its talent acquisition team, fewer than 100 people. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the layoffs to CNN, saying the reduction was made to account for revised business needs.
Twitter said in May — just weeks after Musk agreed to buy the company — that it would halt most hiring and backfills, except for “business critical” roles, and would pull back on other non-labor costs. Several senior executives announced their exit from the company at the same time.
Twitter (TWTR), like other tech companies, has been hit by a downturn in the stock market. The company’s shares fell about 4% Friday morning, and are down more than 12% since the start of this year. Twitter (TWTR)’s stock trades about 30% below Musk’s offer price, reflecting severe doubts about the deal, at least as it is currently proposed.
Despite signing a definitive agreement to buy the company in April, Musk has suggested he could try to pull out of the deal over concerns about the number of bots on the platform — reasoning that analysts have suggested could simply be an attempt to create an excuse for exiting a deal that seems overpriced in light of the market downturn. Shares of Tesla (TSLA), which Musk is relying on in part to finance the deal, have also declined sharply since the Twitter acquisition agreement.
The latest twist in the saga came Thursday, when the Washington Post reported that Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is in “serious jeopardy” over supposed challenges verifying Twitter’s figures on spam accounts, attributed to three people familiar with the thinking of Musk’s team. That’s despite the fact that Twitter handed over to Musk its “firehose” of data about tweets on the platform after he demanded more information.
Earlier Thursday, Twitter held a background call with reporters to explain its process of measuring spam and fake accounts — using both human and automated systems that examine public and private data, such as IP addresses and geolocation data — which it has consistently reported are below 5% of its monetizable daily active users. Musk, citing his own experience on the platform but without any apparent evidence, has estimated it to be much higher.
If Musk tries to pull out of the deal, it could lead to a protracted legal battle with the company.