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Twitter Businesses News

Twitter To Begin Layoffs (nytimes.com) 138

An anonymous reader writes: Just a few days ago, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company and took over the role of CEO. Now, the NY Times reports that the company will be facing layoffs as he cuts the company's costs. Twitter somehow manages to employ over 4,100 people across 35+ offices, so many investors are thrilled with the news. "Twitter's spending has been rising. In the last quarter for which Twitter reported financial results, costs and expenses totaled $633 million, up 37 percent from a year earlier. The layoffs will most likely affect multiple areas of the company, including the engineering and media teams, according to the people with knowledge of the plans." The company is also dropping plans to build a 100,000 square-foot expansion to its headquarters.
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Twitter To Begin Layoffs

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  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @11:43AM (#50699145)

    The layoffs will most likely affect multiple areas of the company, including the engineering and media teams, according to the people with knowledge of the plans.

    So, cut everyone except the management positions. What's left? NOTHING. And I hope he becomes CEO of Facebook in a few years, too.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:28PM (#50699307)

      Considering the disparity in wages these days, firing just one guy from management would reduce costs 2-3 times as much.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The disparity isn't even in the wages but in the profits the early investors could make by having the opportunity to buy stocks of an unknown website and having its value skyrocket through the media coverage controlled by the same early investors who than can dump the shares right before the exponential growth of the stock value stops. It was the same with Facebook or with any other "offer for free, grow fast, increase stock value exponentially by selling to ignorant investors, promise profit by introducing

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:30PM (#50699321)

      Well, at least, I hope they inform their employees of their firing with a tweet.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're fired. Reason: Check-in logs used too many characters. Server space is important.

  • Really...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ed_1024 ( 744566 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @11:45AM (#50699153)
    From summary:

    Twitter somehow manages to employ over 4,100 people across 35+ offices

    What do they do? I would have thought this is one business that could almost be run in the cloud with no human involvement (apart from the tweeters)...

    • Agreed. If somebody had asked me how many employees twitter had I don't think I'd have guessed more than 1000. I'd be vaguely interested (as in I'd read it if it were in front of me but I won't go looking) to see what the employee distribution was by department and role.

      • Re:Really...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:31PM (#50699325)

        Presumably about 90% of them are selling advertising? Sorry, 'Sponsored Tweets' or whatever they call it.

      • Re:Really...? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:44PM (#50699393)

        I wouldn't be surprised if a good chunk of those were the paid moderators charged with investigating flagged tweets and suspected code of conduct violations. A lot of that can't be automated, so it must be one of their more labor-intensive tasks.

        • I wouldn't be surprised if a good chunk of those were the paid moderators charged with investigating flagged tweets and suspected code of conduct violations. A lot of that can't be automated, so it must be one of their more labor-intensive tasks.

          Actually, it *could* be automated. What we are probably seeing is them about to do a roll-out of exactly that, and the current moderator staff scaled back to the point that they only have to deal with explicit moderation and tweaking of the automoderation software, for things which fall through the filters in the wrong direction, either pro or con.

          My suspicion is that there was an internal "secret project team" utilizing "big data" techniques until they ended up with a trained-up model that (mostly) ended

    • Re:Really...? (Score:4, Informative)

      by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:31PM (#50699327) Homepage

      What do they do?

      There are plenty of things to do in the company. For one thing, they have to have a bunch of people trying to convince advertisers to buy space. I assume that's the main reason to have a bunch of scattered offices; they have to have the people selling the ads where the buyers are. They also have a bunch of developers working on new features, like their new "moments" thingy, and presumably on better ways of targeting their ads. Finally, they have to have customer service and support people to do things like responding to abuse complaints.

      • What do they do?

        There are plenty of things to do in the company. For one thing, they have to have a bunch of people trying to convince advertisers to buy space. I assume that's the main reason to have a bunch of scattered offices; they have to have the people selling the ads where the buyers are. They also have a bunch of developers working on new features, like their new "moments" thingy, and presumably on better ways of targeting their ads. Finally, they have to have customer service and support people to do things like responding to abuse complaints.

        I have always wondered how Twitter makes their money. I suppose these layoffs answer that question... they don't make money.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What do they do?

        There are plenty of things to do in the company. For one thing, they have to have a bunch of people trying to convince advertisers to buy space. I assume that's the main reason to have a bunch of scattered offices; they have to have the people selling the ads where the buyers are. They also have a bunch of developers working on new features, like their new "moments" thingy, and presumably on better ways of targeting their ads. Finally, they have to have customer service and support people to do things like responding to abuse complaints.

        So, like, about 100 people?

    • by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:34PM (#50699347)

      What do they do? I would have thought this is one business that could almost be run in the cloud with no human involvement (apart from the tweeters)...

      C*O and Senior Management: 20

      Middle Management: 10

      Administration: 5

      Devs: 2

      Legal: 4063

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you ought to have a look at all the technology that has come out of Twitter.

      https://engineering.twitter.com/opensource/projects

      Then there's also Apache Storm, and Nathan Marz's book on the Lambda Architecture.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      4100 is a strange number for a company like Twitter. If it was 4160, I could understand, as then each employee would be in charge of one letter of the alphabet in each position of a Twitter message. But how do you divide the work with 4100 people on board?
    • Twitter used to run on an enterprise hosting service, bare metal, Cassandra, Hadoop etc. They decided one day to insource and left the service holding the bag on leases for 2900 HP servers.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by PSXer ( 854386 ) <psxer@msfirefox.com> on Saturday October 10, 2015 @11:50AM (#50699183) Homepage

    It seems to me that...

    comment continued in next post

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:07PM (#50699241)

    Twitter's spending has been rising and it's a good thing they're laying people off to cut costs because god forbid they allow people to make a living, own a house and have a family. I'd rather see profits go up by half a percent than help hundreds of people live a comfortable, happy life with a steady income!

    Employing people shouldn't be a sin. It's enough of an insult we have to work like dogs our entire lives just to be able to eat and survive then you get shareholders who want more and more profit and are willing to screw us over to get it.
    How many of these people being laid off will lose their home or significant other? How many will end up in a god awful job they'd sometimes rather be dead than go to? How many lives have to be ruined in the constant pursuit of profit?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:26PM (#50699295)

      Yes, employing people should not be a sin. To Wall Street investors, however, it is a huge unforgivable one. Unless of course we're taking about H1-Bs from India. Then it's ok.

      Bottom line: don't work for a publicly traded company if you can at all arrange not to. Your income is a lot safer that way.

      That said, I'm surprised that a useless social networking company that caters to narcissists employs anyone at all, but that's kind of a special case. Then again, considering everyone under 40 has a portfolio consisting entirely of Facebook, Twitter, GoPro, and maybe Apple such a collapse repeated a few times could cause the ruination of a whole generation...

      • "That said, I'm surprised that a useless social networking company that caters to narcissists..."

        Wait, wait, wait a minute. I see this characterization all the time and it's getting tiresome. Yes, there are plenty of narcissists on Twitter. Fine. But there are also plenty of us who like to curate feeds of interesting people and organizations we like to follow. Twitter fills that niche for me, and it's pretty easy to skim past their minimal advertising.

        i.e., people making these pointless observations about T
      • by n7ytd ( 230708 )

        Yes, employing people should not be a sin. To Wall Street investors, however, it is a huge unforgivable one. Unless of course we're taking about H1-Bs from India. Then it's ok.

        Bottom line: don't work for a publicly traded company if you can at all arrange not to. Your income is a lot safer that way.

        That said, I'm surprised that a useless social networking company that caters to narcissists employs anyone at all, but that's kind of a special case. Then again, considering everyone under 40 has a portfolio consisting entirely of Facebook, Twitter, GoPro, and maybe Apple such a collapse repeated a few times could cause the ruination of a whole generation...

        Employing people is not a sin, but being employed is also not a God-given right.
        Employees need to create value for companies. If an employee costs the company $100k/year, and the company only benefits $80k from that worker, it would be charity to continue to keep the employee on the payroll. That's all well and good, until there's no more in the piggy bank.

    • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @01:04PM (#50699471)

      Companies do not exist to lose money either. Now, their market cap is $20B, they lose $750M per year, and have 4,100 employees. They have about $2B cash less debt. While their CFO did make an obscene amount last year ($72M), and likely should be fired as he doesn't seem to be doing much for the company, that won't solve all their problems.

      This type of situation has the dot-bomb written all over it. Trimming things back at least gives the company a chance to survive.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It may not totally solve their problem, but cutting him will do as much for them as cutting nearly 1,000 other employees.

    • Been there. Gave Lexmark International a decade of my life working in Software Dev. Then in 2009 they closed our lab and let us all go after they off-shored our work to Cebu. Do you know how hard it is for a fifty-year-old to get work in this field these days?

      I'll never forgive those fuckers for what they did to us.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        how hard it is

        Yes, and have known since high school. Companies never give anything and neither should you (or anyone). Trade your time for money, sure, but do your own planing that should include planning on getting laid off at any moment for any reason.

        • by nnull ( 1148259 )
          And sadly, with this mentality, innovation begins to suffer. But it wasn't me who created this situation. It's a sad state of affairs when it used to be companies employing happy workers that were pushing boundaries, now it's small start ups that wait to be bought out.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Maybe it is time to start a new business? We can't call it Slashdot Inc. or anything... Hmm...

        How about Graybeard International LTD?

        They can specialize in contract crisis work where people who retain the talents of yesteryear are able to run in and solve emergency IT problems or crisis work in engineering new projects. We can even have a superhero logo. Someone draw up some plans. I'd consider investing in something like that. Kind of like a mature Geek Squad (only with talent/skills) for businesses.

        I can s

        • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

          --You misspelled "Neckbeard" ;-) but I'm with you 99%. I would invest in that company, maybe work for it when the time came :-D
           
          // not even half joking, somebody DO THIS

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            It's tempting. I've got the funding to get something of that nature started - I think it'd have to be expensive, very pricey, and would need to have people on-site in many instances so these people would have to be able to up-root and move, with a quickness, for an indeterminate amount of time. I'm really thinking the "super heroes" of IT, Comp Sci, etc...

            It needs some mulling and refining but I already sold my business and retired. I'm not sure that I'd want to do much more than provision investment funds

    • by ahabswhale ( 1189519 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @01:24PM (#50699559)

      Oh bullshit. Twitter burns money like there's no tomorrow. They've never made a single penny of profit. To think that this would somehow go on forever, without consequences, is ridiculous. If anything, investors have been way to forgiving of twitter for far too long. Also, you're not doing anything to preserve jobs when you risk the company going under. Grow up.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Your rant might make more sense if Twitter was profitable. They posted a $137 million loss. So yea I suspect the share holders do think getting EPS (as there are no profits) up by half a percent is pretty important, because I am sure none of them signed up to fund, other people's desire to: "own a house and have a family".

    • Twitter's spending has been rising and it's a good thing they're laying people off to cut costs because god forbid they allow people to make a living, own a house and have a family. I'd rather see profits go up by half a percent than help hundreds of people live a comfortable, happy life with a steady income!

      Employing people shouldn't be a sin. It's enough of an insult we have to work like dogs our entire lives just to be able to eat and survive then you get shareholders who want more and more profit and are willing to screw us over to get it.
      How many of these people being laid off will lose their home or significant other? How many will end up in a god awful job they'd sometimes rather be dead than go to? How many lives have to be ruined in the constant pursuit of profit?

      What profits? There aren't any profits. There never have been. Twitter's operating margin is -30.2%. If they can't reduce expenses, everyone loses their jobs.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      What profit? I don't think Twitter has ever made one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Twitter is such a simple service that its employee roster is easy to quantify: one CEO (needed to rake in the cash and phone for hookers and pizza), and 5 software engineers who are permanently asleep in their hammocks except when something breaks and the alarms go off.

    So who are they going to lay off? I'm confused.

    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:28PM (#50699305) Homepage Journal

      You forgot all the UX people whose job it is to randomly change Twitter's UI around for no real reason. Don't forget, Twitter is a modern web-based application, it needs UX because if there's one thing a platform based around sending 140-character messages shouldn't be, it's simple.

      (No, really, they seem to love randomly changing their website and client apps. I guess so those 4100 employees can justify their existence. Alternatively they feel they need to mimic Facebook.)

  • Maybe they also let go of some abandoned usernames. I am @maweki1 and unable to get @maweki because of some shmuck that has tweeted twice in 2010 and then never again.
    • That's probably about 90% of their userbase though, which would make advertisers pay even less for sponsored tweets than they already do.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:35PM (#50699361)
    This may be the tipping point the for Tech Bubble Version 2.0
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Re:@world, just lost my job at twitter #techboomover

      What's a Tech Boo Mover? Never heard of that before. Is that something to do with Honey Boo-Boo?

  • ....and nothing of value was lost.

  • by f97tosc ( 578893 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @12:50PM (#50699423)
    In the latest quarterly report they reported about $500 million in revenues and about $630 million in cost (including administrative and R&D) for a total loss of $130 million.

    Pretty incredible raking in half a billion on online advertisement and still make a loss.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @01:20PM (#50699545) Homepage
    In american companies its routinely accepted that they maintain 15% growth each quarter to be seen as profitable in the eyes of investors. traditional managers will try to maximize this by the product offered, but rarely does a product outside of things like fast-casual food or illegal narcotics offer anything close to this revenue trend. So, what do we do? infrastructure has to be repaired and replaced, and talented engineers in the most expensive city in america aren't cheap. eventually you reach a revenue plateau and have to resort to book-cookery to make the company meet the unspoken 15%. You cant cut project managers, mid management, or upper management because theyre implicit in maintaining the revenue illusion. So, you cut engineering, support, NOC, network and any other skilled craft because they get paid in non-trivial sums.

    once this trend starts its hard to buck. uptime suffers, features are placed ahead of security and bugs, and what once was a well oiled machine now becomes, er, a slashdot of sorts. layoffs continue until morale improves, or more likely you find a buyer. After that your once proud brand just becomes another cog in the internet of things.

    and for those wondering why you have layoffs in america instead of terminations? its because fired employees are entitled to unemployment compensation and laid off employees arent. Sure, they may never be rehired at that job, but the simple fact is companies do it to skirt a myriad of prtotections americans fought for in the early and mid 20th century.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're not form the US are you? Having been laid off, and having received my severance package, and having been entitled to unemployment, and having been entitled to a fair few other things, I assure you, you don't know what you're talking about.

    • As others have pointed out you appear not to be from the US. In the US you do get unemployment for being laid off, but not for being fired. One of the many reasons that lay-offs happen is actually due to the fact that in order for a company to fire you it has to demonstrate some level of employee malfeasance, which means arbitration in court if the employee disputes the accusation. I've been through and initiated both processes (and I've been laid off twice and was unemployment-eligible both times). In fact
    • by eWarz ( 610883 )
      Bootstrap is no longer part of Twitter (hasn't been for a while) and will continue to exist.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @01:37PM (#50699613) Journal
    Opened at 40, peaked at 70 struggling in 30s now. The last batch of stock options and restricted shares must be coming due to be sold. So some window dressing, get a price bump for a quarter? Seems like it.
  • The Abuse department no longer does any abuse-related work - just narrative control for some few thin-skins.

  • Arrogant twats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @02:32PM (#50699845)
    The handful of twitter employees that I met were Type A arrogant twats. These were the sort who within 10 minutes of meeting them would tell you all the different ways they were better than you. First it would be the uber degree from the uber university. Then of course it was that they worked for twitter. Then it was their near perfect SAT that got them into that degree. Then it was where they described that they were doing stats except that they wouldn't even use such a pedestrian word such as ML but had to state it like the title of a serious research paper. Then they might tell you their name but not before telling you all the famous people they had recently met.

    The feeling I got from them was that there was a coked up arrogance to them. That sort of god's gift to mankind attitude.

    What would burn their balls though was when I would say, "Seeing that twitter will eventually peak in usage what comes next to justify that massive valuation? Surely tiny blogging doesn't justify that much value with so little revenue and pretty much no profit."

    Usually they would tell me that it was secret. I would then ask if they were working on the secret. This is where their balls got scorched as if they were so important then why were they just working on a bit of data mining?

    I met exactly one twitter guy who was only somewhat arrogant and he quit. Still a twat though.

    So if I had to guess what their failing was; I would say that it was that they had a tiger by the tail. So they hired people with awesome resumes who went around telling people (and each other) how awesome they all were and thus it became a circle jerk as to how they were going to succeed. But the people they hired were more expert at pleasing teachers and going through checklists in life rather than actually producing anything of value. Had someone of genius assigned them a task they all probably could have done it very well. But on their own they could only massage what already existed.

    Basically these were the kids with an A+ in chemistry and memorized the period table at the beginning of the year but had never just blown shit up in their back yard.
    • First it would be the uber degree from the uber university

      I know this isn't what you meant, but I couldn't help but imagine an app that tells you there's a guy who knows something about sorting algorithms around the corner. You use it to meet him in a coffee shop, where he explains that stuff to you, and you code some exercises in your language of choice. Next thing you know, you've got an Uber degree in CS from Uber University.

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Saturday October 10, 2015 @03:13PM (#50700001)

    Twitter provides such a useful service, sucking up celebrities, politicians, journalists, SJWs, and all sorts of other unsavory characters.

    If Twitter ever closes its doors, these uncivilized hordes will wreak havoc on the rest of the world.

    • The rest of the world is hard. Look at how they tried (and failed) to brigade Slashdot during Brianna Wu's AMA. "I don't understand how the Slashdot works". They think they can overwhelm something with shear numbers and a hash tag.

      I'd rather deal with one or two roaches in my corner of the internet than walk into a mass of all the roaches in the world in a single spot.

  • All they have to do is reduce tweets down to 40 characters and they'll need fewer people. Makes perfect sense.

  • Something is really off about the "new economy".

    Twitter is still considered a "rising star", and one of the biggest and most used tech brands.

    YET it only employees about 4k people AND is laying off.

    Craiglist is also one of the most-used services, yet only employs about 60 people.

    • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Sunday October 11, 2015 @05:17AM (#50702939) Homepage Journal

      It's the 'cloud' paradigm, very typical of this stuff. The 'new economy' is stuff that can just GO AWAY, silently in the night. Something happens or somebody buys something or the company's just all execs and PR people, and it becomes like a Google technology millions of people lean heavily on: suddenly, just gone, nobody to talk to about that.

      'Disruptive', no?

      Twitter could just go away, and a bunch of Slashdotters would snark that nothing of value was lost. Not quite true. The real take-away point is that in the new economy, nothing of value is being made. It's shared fantasy sucking up all the capital that otherwise would have to go find real work.

  • Why do successful companies even need investors? Haven't they become self-sufficient? Why keep the unneeded bloat?

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