I hereafter relate the facts from my point of view, but the interpretation is speculation and educated guesses.
Since I was one of the early layoffs after the Oct 2022 acquisition of Twitter, some people have been curious about the reasons. My current understanding is that I was too much of a potential troublemaker for the new management.
After the layoff rumors, many Twitter employees wanted to save some important documents before potentially losing access. For example: statements from their stock broker (company goes private –> no more stock, which can be a big part of compensation), things from WorkDay (outsourced HR management), etc. This may also include emails important to one’s future career if considered from a self-protection standpoint (good performance reviews, proof of key achievements, etc.). Think about it: if you thought you may lose access to all your work email tomorrow, is there anything in there that you may need?
Earlier, I had made for myself a tiny browser extension. All it did was to automatically do this on a single conversation: That’s it. (This is only relevant if your company uses “Google Workspace”, which includes Gmail, and if your administrator has disabled IMAP access.)
Was this a violation of a corporate policy? Not unless it could be proven that the downloaded message file was moved away from the corporate computer. I had been learning from my years at Google (working on Gmail, heh) where an “email retention policy” was implemented to auto-delete emails older than 18 months.
On 1ˢᵗ Nov 2022 I decided to help out other concerned employees by publishing this extension on the Chrome Web store (here it is — and here is a screenshot in case it ever gets taken down). I then posted a link to the extension on an internal Slack channel. On the same day, I was fired and that post was taken down.
I hope those never come or remain minimal (update 2022-11-03: they did come, and they haven’t remained minimal ☹️), but the “poor performance” layoffs haven’t started yet. Prior to my termination I had volunteered to work on some newly urgent changes and worked through the weekend (slept on a couch at the office on Sat evening), and on Monday (Oct 31) was brought over to three “secret” and high priority projects. In the various “stack-ranking” lists to (naively) compare engineers, I was in the top 5 or 10%.
A couple of people much smarter than me have suggested that that this may be an excuse to fire me over a “troublemaker” vibe coming from me. I don’t deny that, and I don’t blame the new management for preferring not to have to deal with that liability. More history on this:
I am doing fine. I am very lucky: I have citizenship of another country with good health insurance, I have a green card, I am fine financially (that may have allowed me to speak up more than others). I don’t hold any grudges against people who were just doing their job when confronted with a naive and mildly idealistic troublemaker like me, and I loved my time at Twitter, especially my coworkers. 💙
On 2022-11-01, all UTC (a.k.a. London time).
Adding questions as I get them. Questions not answered here? Drop me a direct message on Twitter.
Q: What exactly did they say to you?
A: Just this email (hiding names as it came from someone I actually quite like (still) (update 2022-11-03: that person, along with their manager, as well as my direct manager have all been fired as well; continued friendly chats well aware that there was nothing personal):
My reply: “Thanks [redacted]! I’d love to know what “recent behavior” is, but let me know if someone else can provide more context. Regardless, it was a pleasure working with you :-) @[Redacted] I assume I can ask you about off-boarding instructions? I have this big expensive Twitter-provided Mac laptop that I’d love to return properly. I’m near the SF office, is there an easy way for me to return it in person? That would avoid expensive FedEx-ing fees :-D Thanks!”
Q: What do you mean by stack-ranking engineers? What were the criteria?
A: Raw number of lines of code over a certain period (a year I think).
Q: Which cartoon were you asked to take down?
A: It was episode number 4.
Q: Will you get a severance package?
A: I doubt it.
Q: How many people worked through the weekend just before getting fired? How many slept at the office Saturday night along with you?
A: I don’t know. And I was the only one sleeping on a couch on my floor, but many people have been working from home, and even more would be on a Saturday night.
Q: Are you going to fight this?
A: Maaaaaaybe? But likely not. Yes, I know that’s what they want. I have better things to do :-D Update (2022-11-03): actually, scratch that.
Q: Will you keep making cartoons? About Twitter? About Google again? About other things, too?
A: Yes, yes, yes and yes. :-)
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I don’t know yet. I might do drawings (and other creative and unlucrative endeavours) full time. Or I might try to go back to work at Google if they’ll have me back. I am extremely lucky not to be under any time pressure.
Q: Can I have the PDF of the filed complaint?
A: See the link above in “are you going to fight this”.
Q: Can you put me in touch with other former Twitter employees?
A: If you search for the emoji on Twitter you will find no shortage. Other than that, I’d rather help protect my (former) colleagues at this point.