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Twitter layoffs hit Canadian office, involve at least two of the country’s top staff

November 4, 2022
The Canadian Press

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Two of Twitter Canada’s most senior leaders are part of the social media giant’s global layoffs orchestrated by new owner Elon Musk.

Paul Burns, managing director of the company’s Canadian operations, and Michele Austin, Twitter’s director of public policy for the U.S. and Canada, announced they were part of the cuts on social media Friday.

Burns, who joined the company in 2018, says on Twitter that his last 4.5 years were “wild” and thanked the people he worked with for making the platform “so special.”

Austin, who has been with Twitter since 2018 and made several appearances before government committees, says on LinkedIn that she is “heartbroken” to announce her departure, but “loved every single minute” of her time at the company.


The layoffs come after a letter to employees obtained by multiple media outlets announced the cuts would take place Friday “to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

Musk, who also runs SpaceX and Tesla, spent US$44 billion to purchase Twitter roughly a week ago. A 2021 filing made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows Twitter employs 7,500 people.

Layoffs across company

In a letter to employees obtained by multiple media outlets, the company said employees would find out by 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Friday if they had been laid off. The email did not say how many people would lose their jobs.

Some employees tweeted early Friday that they had already lost access to their work accounts. They and others tweeted messages of support using the hashtag #OneTeam. The email to staff said job reductions were “necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

Twitter’s employees have been expecting layoffs since Musk took the helm of the company. Already, the billionaire Tesla CEO has fired top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal, on his first day as Twitter’s owner.

He also removed the company’s board of directors and installed himself as the sole board member. On Thursday night, many Twitter employees took to Twitter to express support for each other — often simply tweeting blue heart emojis to signify Twitter’s blue bird logo — and salute emojis in replies to each other.

No public notice

As of Thursday, Musk and Twitter had given no public notice of the coming layoffs. That’s even though the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification statute requires employers with at least 100 workers to disclose layoffs involving 500 or more employees, regardless of whether a company is publicly traded or privately held.

Barry C. White, a spokesperson for California’s Employment Development Department, said Thursday the agency has not received any such notifications from Twitter.

A class action lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of one employee who was laid off and three others who were locked out of their work accounts. It alleges that Twitter intends to lay off more employees and has violated the law by not providing the required notice.

The layoffs come at a tough time for social media companies, as advertisers are scaling back and newcomers — mainly TikTok — are threatening the older class of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook’s parent company, recently posted its second quarterly revenue decline in history and its shares are trading at their lowest levels since 2015. Meta’s disappointing results followed weak earnings reports from Google parent Alphabet and even Microsoft.

with files from the Associated Press

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