Musk & Mayhem @Twitter 


The Elon Musk-led management has let go of 150 members from Twitter’s India team. What next for Twitter in the Indian market?

Even in a year where layoffs have become sadly commonplace, the exits and dismissals at Twitter in India and around the world seem different and almost surreal.

In just a few days after Elon Musk’s takeover, several prominent Twitter India employees announced the company had laid them off. The official letters are only now being sent to employees, and by the end of the weekend, the true extent of the layoffs will become more clear.

Before we dive into the Twitter India mess and Elon Musk’s many challenges, let’s look at the other top stories this week:

Twitter’s Titanic Moment

While Musk’s Twitter deal has made headlines around the world, the job of turning things around at the social media giant was never going to be easy.

The world’s richest person was already under immense pressure from public figures after allegations of abuse growing on Twitter since his takeover. In the US, high-level employees including CEO Parag Agrawal had been let go, which had sparked fears in India too.

India Offices Cleared

The new management is said to have laid off nearly half of the 300-member team in India, many of whom, including the communications head, took to Twitter to post about their dismissals, to speak out about their experience.

Raheel Khursheed, the former Twitter India head, told us that while many employees must have seen the development coming, it is still a bad situation at the offices.

The layoffs are in stark contrast to Twitter India’s optimism under Agrawal, when the company was actively hiring for its India ops. Now, employees in India and other countries are being informed about whether they are being retained.

Twitter’s India Woes 

The layoffs are the latest in a growing list of problems for Twitter in India. India is home to its third largest user base, contributing more than 25 Mn users.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is amongst the top 10 most followed accounts globally, but as Khursheed revealed, “India does not contribute a lot to Twitter’s bottom line revenue despite being an important user growth market.”

Plus, Twitter India has dragged the government to court over orders to block accounts entirely instead of taking action against particular tweets for minor offences.

The layoffs have only served to complicate Twitter’s position in terms of compliance with laws. It remains to be seen exactly which positions have been retained by the company for the India operations.

Dismissals of certain positions might fall foul of India’s intermediary guidelines for social media companies. Platforms such as Twitter need to appoint a chief grievance officer, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person.

Vinay Prakash was appointed as the chief compliance and grievance officer while former Bytedance executive Shahin Komath was appointed as the nodal contact person. Their LinkedIn bios are currently unchanged and both are apparently still with the company.

Musk’s Revenue Plans

Besides layoffs, Musk is looking to generate new streams of income for Twitter and reduce costs drastically. He announced plans to charge users up to $8 for the verified badge (price will vary as per country) to monetise the most active user base.

Musk also tweeted that the downsizing was forced by the fact that Twitter was losing over $4 Mn per day.

The question of course is what will the price be in India. Musk added that the price would be adjusted according to purchasing power parity, so it could cost around INR 70 per month in India or roughly thereabouts.

Whatever the price, is a Twitter verified account attractive enough for anyone to pay a monthly subscription? CRED cofounder Kunal Shah’s Twitter poll showed that a majority of people might not.

Musk sold Tesla stock worth more than $8 Bn to finance the $44 Bn Twitter deal. He brought on private equity investors immediately after taking over.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia is now the second-largest investor, while Qatar Investment Authority has also backed the company. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey continues to remain invested and has a 2.4% stake in the company.

Now that it’s a private company, Twitter will face all the same problems that tech startups and companies around the world are facing — as seen in over 15K layoffs and severe cost-cutting in India.

If Twitter has to make the most of the India user base, it has to customise its offerings for the Indian market. Doing what works in the US might not fly in India just as well — particularly when it comes to additions such as bypassing paywalls and priority mentions.

If those are the only perks that come for Indians after paying a monthly fee, Twitter might remain a niche social media platform that only attracts the top layer of the Indian internet ecosystem, instead of the centre-stage for online discourse that it wants to be.

✨ Sunday Roundup: Funding, Tech Stocks & More

  • Startup Funding This Week: Indian startups raised $394 Mn across 22 deals this past week, with SaaS unicorn Icertis’s $150 Mn round contributing nearly half to this tally.

That’s all for this Sunday.

Till we see you next week,
Team Inc42

You have reached your limit of free stories
Become An Inc42 Plus Member

Become a Startup Insider in 2024 with Inc42 Plus. Join our exclusive community of 10,000+ founders, investors & operators and stay ahead in India’s startup & business economy.

Unlock 60% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Unlock 50% OFF
Cancel Anytime
Already A Member?
Discover Startups & Business Models

Unleash your potential by exploring unlimited articles, trackers, and playbooks. Identify the hottest startup deals, supercharge your innovation projects, and stay updated with expert curation.

Musk & Mayhem @Twitter -Inc42 Media
How-To’s on Starting & Scaling Up

Empower yourself with comprehensive playbooks, expert analysis, and invaluable insights. Learn to validate ideas, acquire customers, secure funding, and navigate the journey to startup success.

Musk & Mayhem @Twitter -Inc42 Media
Identify Trends & New Markets

Access 75+ in-depth reports on frontier industries. Gain exclusive market intelligence, understand market landscapes, and decode emerging trends to make informed decisions.

Musk & Mayhem @Twitter -Inc42 Media
Track & Decode the Investment Landscape

Stay ahead with startup and funding trackers. Analyse investment strategies, profile successful investors, and keep track of upcoming funds, accelerators, and more.

Musk & Mayhem @Twitter -Inc42 Media
Musk & Mayhem @Twitter -Inc42 Media
You’re in Good company