Elon Musk says ‘babies got thrown out with the bathwater’ when he was axing Twitter jobs and not everyone should’ve been fired

Elon Musk, Twitter's owner and CTO, pictured at a Tesla event.
Elon Musk, Twitter's former CEO and now CTO, said he'd be looking to rehire some members of staff.
Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Spectators and analysts believed Elon Musk may live to regret the brutal job cuts he carried out at Twitter when he brought the social media site—and it turns out they might be right.

The Twitter owner and now Chief Technology Officer has spoken candidly about the swathes of redundancies he made at the platform, admitting that in some cases good people were let go.

The Tesla CEO, who was similarly running SpaceX at the time, has so far let an estimated 6,300 people go across teams like HR, policy, press communications, marketing, engineering and more.

Adding to the chaos was the fact some members of staff didn’t know if they had really lost their jobs or not, with Musk even getting into a spat with a disabled employee who publicly asked the then-CEO for some clarity.

With a new boss at Twitter in place—Linda Yaccarino, the former chair of global advertising and partnerships at Comcast’s NBC Universal —Musk now seems ready to reflect on the $44 billion deal and his subsequent management.

Speaking to CNBC’s David Faber, Musk said that “not all” the people who lost their jobs were “superfluous.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he said. “There’s no question that some of the people who were let go probably shouldn’t have been let go because we simply did not have the time to figure [it] out. We had to make widespread cuts to get the run rate under control.

“This is not to say that everyone who was let go from Twitter is terrible or something—it’s just we have to, with very little information, get the headcount, expenses and the non-personnel expenses down to where we break even.”

Musk added the platform isn’t breaking even yet, but will be soon.

“We needed to do it fast, and unfortunately if you do it fast there are going to be some babies thrown out with the bathwater,” he said.

Musk was clear not to “disparage” anyone who had left, but said he had heard from other tech CEO who had felt emboldened by his moves to axe headcount.

Though he did not name them, individuals like fellow social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg made 21,000 job cuts at Meta, Google slashed its workforce by around 12,000 at the start of the year while Amazon made 27,000 redundant in a matter of months.

Other business leaders have been open in their compliments of the policy.

Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley VC and peer of Musk’s in the so-called PayPal mafia, told an event in March that Big Tech competitors were “watching Elon and Twitter” to gage how and where to make cuts to their own staff.

Saying it was an “extreme example” of how to manage layoffs and cut down on inefficient staff, Rabois added he would never bet against the Tesla mogul.

Back to hiring

Having slashed the number of Twitter staffers to around 1,500, Musk said that he and Yaccarino would now be looking to grow the company’s headcount once again.

“We absolutely need to hire people,” Musk said. “And if they’re not too mad at us probably rehire some of the people that were let go.”

Musk may be out of the proverbial frying pan and into the frier when it comes to hiring, having announced this week that he now wants to sign off on every hire and contractor EV manufacturer Tesla works with.

In an internal email, Musk wrote: “I would like to gain a better understanding of our hiring. VPs should send me a list of their department hiring requests once a week.”

Whether or not he adapts Tesla’s hiring policy remains to be seen—however, he has previously indicated what hiring at Twitter would look like.

Responding to a Fortune story last year about job interest in the company skyrocketing if Musk’s purchase went through, the tech titan tweeted: “If Twitter acquisition completes, company will be super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware.”

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