Is Twitter Really on the Verge of Shutdown?

Is Twitter Really on the Verge of Shutdown?

Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter has been anything but uneventful. Not long after assuming the stewardship of the popular microblogging platform, Musk had dissolved the Twitter board and laid off half of the company's 7,500-strong workforce.


Twitter's workforce is now being speculated to shrink by as much as 90 percent, after Musk forced the remaining employees to opt into their jobs while pledging to an "extremely hardcore" work culture. Multiple reports indicate that the microblogging platform may be suffering an unprecedented employee exodus.

As the hashtag #RIPTwitter became the top trending topic on the platform, does this mean Twitter is about to go belly up?

Musk Claims Twitter is Experiencing Massive Growth in Usage

Musk, obviously, doesn't think so. The self-proclaimed "Chief Twit" retaliated against negative media coverage by tweeting growing user metrics. The Twitter owner proudly announced that the platform had hit an all-time high in terms of usage. That might be the word of the company's owner, but there are a few ways to audit the microblogging site's health on a third-party basis.

Site connectivity tracking tool Downdetector, for example, doesn't reflect anything seriously wrong with Twitter, with the number of error reports being typical of a normally functioning social media platform. The Twitter API status page also suggests that the systems critical to the platform's functioning are in the green. From a technical perspective, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the platform. Yet. The growth in the site's usage metrics also rule out concerns of an organic slowdown.


In that case, from where do the concerns about Twitter's apparent demise originate?

A Case of Conflicting Reports

The major concerns stem from a speculative report by The Verge. The story quotes an anonymous (and obviously unverified) Twitter ex-employee claiming that the company had lost a core engineering group vital to keeping the site operational. The unvetted report speculates that employees key to maintaining "core system libraries that every engineer at the company uses" had been laid off.

Venture capitalist Bill Gurley, who was an early investor in Twitter, doesn't find any merit to the notion that Twitter layoffs will grind the company to a halt. He believes that large corporations often conduct multiple layoffs in a staggered manner because they are afraid to "cut too much". He instead opines that companies are much more resilient to attrition.

Gurley bolstered his point by pointing out that Twitter was managing 200 million monthly active users on an organizational strength of 1,000 in 2012. Twitter has a far better engineering framework and a comparatively larger pool of employees even after the mass layoffs.

Media Hysteria vs Verifiable Metrics

Click-driven social media and news platforms naturally favor hyperbole over common sense and nuance, so it is unsurprising that everyone and their uncle seem to have hedged their bets on Twitter's demise. However, third-party site analytics and Twitter's own usage metrics still prove that the platform has been doing well, despite the layoffs and austerity measures.

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