On Wednesday Elon Musk reportedly sent an ultimatum to Twitter's workforce: Sign on to his approach to Twitter, including long "hardcore" work hours, or leave the company. Employees had to reply "yes" to the option to stay by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday or be let go with three months of severance pay. Many, it appears, chose to leave.
Hundreds of Twitter employees resigned, according to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and others, citing messages staff sent to one another on Slack. The exodus has left critical systems down to skeleton crews of one or two engineers, a former employee told the Post.
Around the same time, the company's remaining employees were reportedly locked out of its San Francisco headquarters, with Platformer's Zoe Schiffer reporting that Twitter's buildings are closed and badge access suspended until Nov. 21. Twitter, which no longer appears to have a PR team, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Read more: Twitter-Musk News Timeline: Musk Locks Employees Out Of HQ Again Amid Mass Resignations
The news is the latest twist in the saga of Twitter under Musk's influence and control, dating back to April when he announced his intention to acquire the company. Since taking the reins as CEO on Oct. 27, Musk has laid off about half the 7,500-person staff while demanding remaining ones work long hours. He's overseen the abrupt development of new features, like an update to the Twitter Blue subscription that included account verification, which led to a rash of impersonations, including of Musk himself.
Thursday's news spawned fresh concern among Twitter users that the platform is in the final stages of a death spiral resulting from Musk's acquisition of the company for $44 billion. #RIPTwitter, "Damn Twitter" and "Twitter HQ" became the platform's trending phrases following reports of the exodus.
Among those responding to the turmoil was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic member of Congress from New York who has criticized Musk's handling of Twitter. "Shoutout to all the workers at Twitter," she wrote to her 13 million followers. "You all built a vital place for connection and deserved so much better."
Musk even seemed to acknowledge the drama, posting a tweet that appeared to poke fun at his earlier warning the company may soon go bankrupt. "How do you make a small fortune in social media?" Musk tweeted on Thursday night, three hours after his deadline to staff. "Start out with a large one."
The polarizing businessman's tenure as Twitter leader may end up being temporary. During testimony Wednesday in a Tesla shareholder case -- Musk also runs Tesla, the maker of electric cars, and SpaceX, a rocket builder -- that alleges his salary as CEO is excessive, Musk also reportedly told the court, "I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time," according to CNBC.