Mr. Musk ordered immediate layoffs, fired executives by email and laid down product deadlines, transforming the company.
Elon Musk had a demand.
On Oct. 28, hours after completing his $44 billion buyout of Twitter the night before, Mr. Musk gathered several human-resource executives in a “war room” in the company’s offices in San Francisco. Prepare for widespread layoffs, he told them, six people with knowledge of the discussion said. Twitter’s work force needed to be slashed immediately, he said, and those who were cut would not receive bonuses that were set to be paid on Nov. 1.
The executives warned their new boss that his plan could violate employment laws and breach contracts with workers, leading to employee lawsuits, the people said. But Mr. Musk’s team said he was used to going to court and paying penalties, and was not worried about the risks. So Twitter’s human-resource, accounting and legal departments scrambled to figure out how to comply with his command.
Two days later, Mr. Musk learned exactly how costly those potential fines and lawsuits could be, three people said. Delays were also piling up as managers haggled over which employees to let go. He decided to wait on cutting jobs until after Nov. 1.
The order for immediate layoffs, the ensuing panic and the about-face reflect the chaos that has engulfed Twitter since Mr. Musk took over the company two weeks ago. The 51-year-old barreled in with ideas about how the social media service should operate, but with no comprehensive plan to execute them. Then he quickly ran into the business, legal and financial complexities of running a platform that has been called a global town square.
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