Twitter Payments chief is out as layoffs cut 10% of Twitter staff, report says

Twitter Payments chief is out as layoffs cut 10% of Twitter staff, report says
Feb 2023

More engineers, product managers, and data scientists are out at Twitter, as another round of layoffs has slashed 10 percent of the remaining staff, The New York Times reported. Multiple sources familiar with the matter told the Times that 200 employees were affected.

On Saturday night--just as it happened during Twitter's November layoffs--some employees discovered they were about to lose their jobs when they were abruptly logged out of corporate email accounts and laptops. Now there are fewer than 2,000 employees left, it's estimated.

Among those impacted is Esther Crawford, who enthusiastically embraced Twitter CEO Elon Musk's vision of Twitter 2.0 and proved to be so hardcore that she became the chief executive of Twitter Payments, Financial Times reported. In November, Musk told staff there were no plans for more layoffs and pointed to Twitter Payments--a product that would support peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce on the platform--as the product that would save Twitter from going broke. Now, the Twitter Payments team has dropped from a staff of 30 to fewer than eight, the Times reported, making it unclear if the product is still a top priority as Twitter's money struggles drag on.

Ars could not immediately reach Twitter or Crawford for comment.

Crawford--who was once criticized for being a "bootlicker" by a former Twitter senior staff member--tweeted that she was "deeply proud of the team for building through so much noise and chaos." She also said that "the worst take you could have from watching me go all-in on Twitter 2.0 is that my optimism or hard work was a mistake."

Several lawsuits have been filed by staff affected by Twitter's mass layoffs. Those former staffers allege that they've been offered severance packages that are less than what they are owed. For executives hit by the latest round of layoffs, including Crawford and Haraldur Thorleifsson, their promised severance packages are even higher. The Times reported that they're so pricey, sources familiar with what's included in their severance packages expect it could cost Twitter more to lay them off than keep them on staff.

Former staff suing also allege that during layoffs, Twitter disproportionately discriminated against women, people on family leave, and people with disabilities. Twitter has so far been successful in pushing most of these lawsuits out of court and into individual arbitration with the company.

Musk under fire for accessibility team layoffs

Just before Twitter announced this newest round of layoffs on Saturday, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent Musk a letter on Friday, urging Musk to rehire the accessibility team, which was cut entirely during prior layoffs.

This team previously advocated on behalf of people with disabilities to improve their Twitter experience, including sharing insights into making everything from an emoji to an ad more accessible to "around a billion people worldwide" who "have some form of disability."

Markey said that Musk's decision last year to dismiss Twitter's accessibility team and the recent decision to charge for access to Twitter's application programming interface eliminated features that many users depend on. That includes adding automated alt-text on images and auto-generating closed captioning on Twitter Spaces.

The consequences, Markey told Musk, have been "devastating." He claimed that while Twitter has never done a perfect job when it comes to issues with accessibility, under Musk, it has gotten worse.

"All of these changes under your leadership signal a disregard for the needs" of people with disabilities, Markey wrote. "Consequently, Twitter users with disabilities are questioning their ability to continue to use the platform, and many have already left it entirely."

Markey gave Musk until March 17 to explain why Twitter eliminated its accessibility team, confirm whether Twitter would commit to rehiring the team, and outline how Twitter would address the overlooked needs reported by users.

"I urge you to immediately reinstate Twitter's accessibility team and take all necessary steps to promote accessibility," Markey wrote.