SAN FRANCISCO - Employee departures multiplied at Twitter on Thursday after an ultimatum from new owner Elon Musk, who demanded staff choose between being "extremely hardcore" and working long hours, or losing their jobs.
"I may be #exceptional, but gosh darn it, I'm just not #hardcore," tweeted one former employee, Andrea Horst, whose LinkedIn profile still reads "Supply Chain & Capacity Management (Survivor) @Twitter."
She added the hashtag "#lovewhereyouworked," as did many other employees announcing their choice.
Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has come under fire for radical changes at the social media company, which he bought for $44 billion late last month.
He had already fired half of the company's 7,500 staff, scrapped a work-from-home policy and imposed long hours, all while his attempts to overhaul Twitter have faced chaos and delays.
His stumbling attempts to revamp user verification with a controversial subscription service have led to a slew of fake accounts and pranks, and prompted major advertisers to step away from the platform.
- Is Twitter dead? -
Much of the fevered talk driving engagement on Twitter late on Thursday was concerning the possibility of the site's imminent demise.
Musk noted the irony by posting the popular meme of an actor jokingly posing over a grave. Both the man and the tombstone were overlaid with Twitter's logo. The post was "liked" by more than 1 million users.
In a later tweet, sent during Friday's early hours on the West Coast, the billionaire said: "Record numbers of users are logging in to see if Twitter is dead, ironically making it more alive than ever!"
The troubled social media network's management told employees Thursday that offices were temporarily closed and inaccessible, even with a badge, according to Zoe Schiffer, a journalist for the tech industry newsletter Platformer.
"Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore," Musk wrote in the ultimatum, an internal memo sent Wednesday and seen by AFP.
"This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade," he added.
Staff had been asked to follow a link to affirm their commitment to "the new Twitter" by 5:00 pm New York time (2200 GMT) on Thursday.
If they did not do so, they lost their jobs, receiving three months of severance pay -- an unusual method even in the United States, where labor laws are less protective for employees than in many other developed countries.
Twitter did not respond to AFP requests for comment on the new measure.
"No words just grateful to say I was able to get my dream job and do more than I ever thought possible. It's been a wild ride," Deanna Hines-Glasgow, who was a senior client account manager at Twitter, tweeted Thursday, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Esther Crawford, the platform's director of product development and one of the few managers who have not been fired, who have not resigned and who still publicly support the new leader, 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."
© Agence France-Presse