Elon Musk says Twitter had ‘four months to live’ before mass sackings

Elon Musk has said Twitter had “four months to live” when he bought the platform and insisted it needed to cut costs to save it from bankruptcy.

The billionaire owner confirmed that about 80% of its staff have been axed since he took over at the helm.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, Mr Musk said the social media platform was “spending money like it’s out of fashion” before he stepped in.

Asked whether his approach to sacking staff members was “haphazard and uncaring”, Mr Musk replied: “I wouldn’t say it was uncaring.

“The issue is, the company is going to go bankrupt if we do not cut costs immediately.

“This is not a caring, uncaring situation. If the whole ship sinks, then nobody’s got a job.”

There was a 3 billion US dollar “negative cash flow situation”, he said, which left Twitter with “four months to live”.

As a result, thousands of employees across the business have been sacked since he bought the platform for 44 billion US dollars (£35.7 billion) in October.

There are now around 1,500 staff members, from just under 8,000 when Mr Musk took over, the boss confirmed.

 Twitter owner Elon Musk during an interview with James Clayton, right, for the BBC Breakfast show
Twitter owner Elon Musk during an interview with James Clayton, right, for the BBC Breakfast show (BBC News/PA)

The Tesla and SpaceX boss was criticised for cutting half the company’s full-time staff in one week, ending remote working and setting an ultimatum for remaining staff to agree to longer, more intense working patterns or leave.

It also led to concerns that the platform could struggle to survive with the reduced maintenance team and available engineers.

Mr Musk admitted on Wednesday that shutting down one of Twitter’s service centres had ended up being “quite catastrophic” as it resulted in the platform losing a large amount of its functionality.

But he said that Twitter was now “roughly breaking even” and could be profitable again soon.

He added: “Depending on how things go, if current trends continue, I think we could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things keep going well.

“I think almost all advertisers have come back or said they are going to come back. There’s very few exceptions.”


Following his takeover of the platform, many advertisers paused work with the site over concerns about Mr Musk’s approach to content and moderation.

He also revealed legacy blue checkmarks will finally be removed by next week.

Mr Musk said last month that legacy-verified Twitter users would see their blue ticks removed from the service on April 1, unless they paid a monthly fee of 8 US dollars (£6.40) to its Twitter Blue subscription operation.

As a result, thousands of the platform’s high-profile users were braced to lose the ticks, which can help verify their identity and distinguish them from imposters.

But the legacy blue ticks have remained in place past the original deadline of April 1.

The BBC Twitter account is tagged 'government-funded media'
The @BBC Twitter account is tagged ‘government-funded media’ (Screengrab/Twitter/PA)

Mr Musk also said the social media site will update the BBC’s “government-funded media” tag after the broadcaster objected to the label.

The BBC contacted Twitter last week after the designation was attached to the main @BBC account.

The label on the BBC’s official Twitter account has now been changed to “publicly funded media” after the broadcaster objected to the previous government association.

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