Twitter staff quit after Musk ultimatum

Hundreds of Twitter employees are estimated to be leaving the beleaguered social media company following an ultimatum from new owner Elon Musk that staffers sign up for "long hours at high intensity" or leave.

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!"

A quarter said they had chosen to stay "reluctantly" and only seven per cent of the poll participants said they "clicked yes to stay, I'm hardcore".

Musk was meeting some top employees to try to convince them to stay, said one current employee and a recently departed employee who is in touch with Twitter colleagues.

While it is unclear how many employees have chosen to stay, the numbers highlight the reluctance of some staffers to remain at a company where Musk has hastened to fire half its employees including top management, and is ruthlessly changing the culture to emphasise long hours and an intense pace.

The company notified employees that it will close its offices and cut badge access until Monday, according to two sources. Security officers have begun kicking employees out of the office on Thursday evening, one source said.

Twitter, which has lost many of its communication team members, did not respond to a request for comment.

The departures include many engineers responsible for fixing bugs and preventing service outages, raising questions about the stability of the platform amid the loss of employees.

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 source familiar with the matter estimated that the public version of Twitter was at risk of breaking during the night.

In a private chat on Signal with about 50 Twitter staffers, nearly 40 said they had decided to leave, according to the former employee.

And in a private Slack group for Twitter's current and former employees, about 360 people joined a new channel titled "voluntary lay-off", said a person with knowledge of the Slack group.

Early on Wednesday, Musk had emailed Twitter employees, saying: "Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore."

The email asked staff to click "yes" if they wanted to stick around. Those who did not respond by 5pm EST on Thursday (0900 on Friday AEDT) would be considered to have quit and given a severance package.

As the resignations rolled in, Musk cracked a joke on Twitter.

"How do you make a small fortune in social media?" he tweeted. "Start out with a large one."