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Reports: Musk plans big Twitter layoffs and $20 monthly charge for verification

Illustration of Elon Musk juggling three birds in the shape of Twitter's logo.

Aurich Lawson | Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Elon Musk-led Twitter is reportedly planning big layoffs and a $20 monthly charge for any user who wants to be verified or keep their current account verification.

According to The Verge, Musk ordered employees to raise the price of the Twitter Blue subscription from $4.99 a month to $19.99 and require anyone with a verified account to subscribe in order to keep their blue verification checkmark. Citing “people familiar with the matter and internal correspondence,” The Verge article said the plan is that “verified users would have 90 days to subscribe [to Twitter Blue] or lose their blue checkmark. Employees working on the project were told on Sunday that they need to meet a deadline of November 7th to launch the feature or they will be fired.”

Turning verification into a paid feature could make it easier for scammers to impersonate real people. As Twitter’s website notes, “the blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable, and active.” Corporations might see the charge as part of the cost of doing business, but individuals are less likely to pay that much just to keep their blue checks.

Musk tweeted Sunday that the “whole verification process is being revamped right now” but did not elaborate. We contacted Twitter’s public relations department today and will update this article if we get more information on the Twitter Blue and verification plans.

An earlier report on the plan to tie verification to Twitter Blue said the subscription price would remain at $4.99 a month. “Twitter is strongly considering making its users pay to remain verified on the service, Platformer has learned,” the report by Casey Newton’s Platformer news site said. “If the project makes forward, users would have to subscribe to Twitter Blue at $4.99 a month or lose their badges.”

Twitter Blue currently provides access to the Undo Tweet option and several other features.

Layoffs reportedly could hit nearly 50% of staff

While Musk reportedly told Twitter staff it isn’t true that he plans to eliminate 75 percent of the workforce, several reports say he is drawing up plans for big layoffs. Over the weekend, “Elon Musk’s inner circle huddled with Twitter’s remaining senior executives,” and the group “was deciding on what is expected to be a first round of layoffs, which will target roughly a quarter of the staff totaling more than 7,000,” The Washington Post reported.

The Post report said layoffs will affect “almost all departments and are expected to specifically impact sales, product, engineering, legal, and trust and safety in the coming days… After engineers, some of Twitter’s highest paid employees work in sales, where several earn more than $300,000, according to documents viewed by The Post.”

One of the Post’s sources “said the total number of layoffs is likely to be closer to 50 percent.” The newspaper previously reported that “Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy the company that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent” of staff.

A New York Times report, citing people with knowledge of the matter. said Musk “has ordered the cuts across the company, with some teams to be trimmed more than others.” Bloomberg also cited anonymous sources in a report that said Musk “has asked managers to draw up lists of team members who could be let go.”

Musk denied a portion of the New York Times report that said the “layoffs at Twitter would take place before a Nov. 1 date when employees were scheduled to receive stock grants as part of their compensation.”

Musk’s cost-cutting may be at least partly related to the $13 billion in debt he used to complete the $44 billion purchase. “Last year, Twitter’s interest expense was about $50 million,” a New York Times report on Twitter’s finances said. “With the new debt taken on in the deal, that will now balloon to about $1 billion a year. Yet the company’s operations last year generated about $630 million in cash flow to meet its financial obligations.”

Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal and several other top executives right after completing the acquisition on Thursday last week. He reportedly appointed himself CEO but is calling himself the “Chief Twit.”

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