'Musk's hellscape' projected on Twitter building, ultimatum leads to mass exodus

Should I stay or should I go? 

That was the question many ‘Tweeps’ struggled with as they faced a deadline imposed by the company's multi-billionaire CEO, Elon Musk.

For Twitter employees, the choice was "to be extremely hardcore" or leave. As of Thursday, many said "challenge accepted" and left. Reuters reports hundreds have resigned. 

Employees had until 2 p.m. Pacific Time on Thursday to decide to either stay or take a severance package. Musk laid out a plan to change to corporate culture to include long-hard work. 

The lobby of Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco Thursday night was empty, but online, Twitter exploded with posts using hashtags #GoodByeTwitter and #RIPTwitter, as many people posted they were taking flight and leaving the company.

There was a flurry of messages on Twitter by people saying they were leaving. Many had an emoji saluting goodbye.

Another Twitter post showed cartoons by a former worker with a blue Twitter bird saluting and hands presenting two choices: "fly away" or "burn out."

Some used a blue heart and hashtag #LoveWhereYouWorked, mourning Twitter's previous #LoveWhereYouWork culture before Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover.

"He's blown up the existing culture," said Professor Jennifer Chatman, associate dean at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

"I think the question is were there any keeper elements from the previous culture that would help you in your next round of strategic initiatives," said Chatman, "I don't think Elon Musk had the patience or the perspective to wait to see whether there was any value in the existing culture."

Chatman also says Musk's posts on Twitter asking people to crowdsource ideas, such as his pay checkmark verification plan, might be intended as an attempt at transparency, but also risks throwing the company's brand into question and chaos.

"He is an intensive consumer of Twitter, an intensive user of Twitter. That does not equate with being an effective business owner and an effective strategist for this particular company," said Chatman, "Advertisers are going to be worried about associating their company brand with the volatility that we're seeing."

Outside Twitter headquarters on Market Street Thursday night, activist Alan Marling projected messages of protest on the building.

"Twitter was a way that I could connect to people over great distances and share a common interest, but now, no thanks," said Marling. 

Tech recruiters say they already are getting calls from former Twitter workers.

Jason Stomel, is CEO and founder of the tech recruiting company Cadre, with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

"It especially impacts folks who are on any type of work visas and have a limited time to get their next job, so yes, we're definitely seeing a tremendous amount of inbound interest of candidates looking for the next role and urgently," said Stomel.

Stomel says he believes tech workers should be prepared for a challenging and competitive job market, coming at a time when multiple tech companies are downsizing.

"Hiring has slowed down tremendously. The market is just flooded with really good talent, people coming out of Meta, Twitter, Amazon etc." said Stomel, "Those candidates who are actually getting themselves in a new hiring process after they've been let go are somewhat shocked with what a competitive offer looks like today."

"A lot of these candidates are even looking at side gigs asking if there is any contracting work available too so I think it's a way to augment the income they were used to making," said Stomel.

Stomel says, however, that he believes workers, particularly software engineers, will be able to find work eventually.

"There's still a tremendous amount of startups who are hiring. They have to build product, and they have to build something quick and fast, and they need the best engineers possible to do that, so startups are still for the most part hiring," said Stomel, "I'd say it's down 30-40% overall but for the most part, there are a plethora of options for really, really good engineering talent. I'd say it's a little more difficult when we're talking about marketing or sales or operations and so forth."

Stomel says candidates in the Bay Area do have an advantage over job-seekers elsewhere in the country.

"If you're local to where the company is headquartered, you're going to be prioritized above folks who are remote first," said Stomel.

"If it's an urgent thing that you get back into work and you don't have the luxury of hanging out for a little bit during the holidays, then the first thing I would do would be to update my LinkedIn profile and make sure my skills and projects are up-to-date. Make sure my company information is up-to-date. Mark myself as open to new opportunities. That's one fo the most critical things," said Stomel.

If you're a software engineer, in particular, Stomel says make sure you have your open source projects on Github. 

Trending on the social media website Thursday was #LoveWhereYouWorked, a hashtag that also went viral earlier in November when many former employees were laid off unexpectedly

Trending alongside was #OneTeam as many, now former, employees decided to leave the company after being given an ultimatum Wednesday.

Since Musk's takeover as CEO, more than half of the 7,500 workers have been fired or left the company. Also, critical events have taken place, including a lawsuit alleging his mass layoff was illegal per state laws and fake "verified" accounts posing as famous people or businesses.

Multiple former employees shared bittersweet remarks on their decision to leave instead of building a "breakthrough Twitter 2.0." 

Some positions eliminated abruptly included engineers who were allegedly fired for criticizing Musk either publicly on the platform or privately on company platforms and chats. Contract positions regarding monitoring harmful content and misinformation were also eliminated.

Tenures at the company ranged from two short years to over a decade. 

SEE MORE: #LoveWhereYouWorked: Here are some of the people who got laid off from Twitter.

Since the mass exodus, hashtags and keywords such as"RIPTwitter" "BeforeTwitter" and "TwitterHQ" began to trend. While Musk has yet to comment via Twitter regarding the announcements from former workers, politicians such as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez of New York shared their reaction.

"Shout out to all the workers at Twitter. You all built a vital place for connection and deserved so much better," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Millions of people appreciate the space you built and the hard work that went into it. Thank you."

MORE COVERAGE: Twitter lays off 784 employees at SF Headquarters, as former employees file lawsuit.

As the evening wore on, a highly-critical scroll, aimed at Musk, was projected on Twittter's San Francisco headquarters. The company has closed all of its offices, including its headquarters, until next week.