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Musk’s Twitter layoffs include 55 in Boston office

Center Plaza in Boston, where Twitter's office is located.Matthew J. Lee

Twitter began notifying employees, including some based in the Boston area, about layoffs Friday morning, one week after Elon Musk became the social media company’s new owner.

A letter from Twitter’s human resources department to the State Dislocated Worker Unit said that approximately 55 employees at the company’s Boston office would be terminated, effective January 4, 2023.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Twitter’s Boston office, at 2 Center Plaza, was closed to employees on Friday (as were all company offices). Employees who were laid off received the news through their personal e-mail, and employees whose jobs were not cut were notified through their work e-mail.

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Twitter has not said how many of its roughly 7,500 employees would be laid off. But according to information obtained by The New York Times, it could be about half of Twitter’s workforce. In addition to the layoffs, several top managers at Twitter have quit over the past few days.

David Smydra, who worked on curation in Twitter’s Boston office, posted a tweet Friday indicating he had been let go. The post was accompanied by a photo of a Massachusetts Powerball ticket.

“Meanwhile Powerball is up to $1.5B and when I win, I can cover Twitter’s new debt payments better than Twitter,” he wrote. “Shame they let me go.”

A number of employees on Twitter’s marketing, curation, and communications teams were impacted, the source said, and prior to the layoff, about 300 employees reported to the Boston office, a number that includes remote workers. A large number of Twitter’s Boston employees work in engineering roles, they said.

In an e-mail obtained by the Globe, Twitter’s human resources department told remaining employees that its office buildings would remain closed until Monday and that Musk is “looking forward to communicating with everyone about his vision for the company soon.”

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Twitter did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Grae Kindel, a Twitter employee who lives in Medford, was locked out of their company accounts on Thursday, according to a class action lawsuit they and other Twitter employees filed in federal court in San Francisco this week.

The lawsuit, filed by Massachusetts-based labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, alleged that Twitter was violating the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act by not giving the laid-off workers at least 60 days notice in advance of the cutbacks.

But on Friday, some laid-off Twitter employees were told they would be paid through Jan. 4, Liss-Riordan said in an interview. That would meet the law’s requirement for notice, she said.

“We don’t know the extent of who was covered by that notice,” she said. “But we are pleased to know that the lawsuit may have done its trick.”

Liss-Riordan, who ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts attorney general this year, said she would also be waiting to see whether Twitter met its obligation to disclose the ages of those laid off versus those retained, as required by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

“We will be taking a close look at that data,” she said. “At tech companies, often older workers bear the brunt of that.”

Twitter established a presence in Boston in 2013 when it bought two local startups: television analytics company Bluefin Labs and mobile-app tool Crashlytics. It combined both companies in an office at 141 Portland St. in Cambridge. (Google acquired Crashlytics and its team from Twitter in 2017.)

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In late 2019, right before the pandemic, Twitter leased its larger office space in Boston.

This story was updated with information from the state on the number of local layoffs.



Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism. Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him @ampressman.