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Twitter announces layoffs (sec.gov)
582 points by uptown on Oct 13, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 381 comments



> Emails like this are usually riddled with corporate speak so I'm going to give it to you straight.

I tried rewriting his email to live up to this promise:

- - -

Team,

We're cutting our workforce to strengthen Twitter as a company.

The team has been deciding how to best streamline Twitter, Vine, and Periscope to put their focus on the projects which will have the greatest impact. Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning. It's a peek into the future of how people will see what's going on in the world.

We plan to cut up to 336 people. This was a tough decision, and we'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job. Product and Engineering are going to make the most changes. Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization, and other departments will be cut in parallel.

This isn't easy. We'll honor those who we're losing with our service to all the people who use Twitter. We'll do it with a more purpose-built team. Thank you all for your trust and understanding here. As always, please reach out to me directly with any ideas or questions.

Jack


Everyone should take note of this person's excellent structure: he put the decision first.

If you are writing a decisive message that can greatly impact many people's lives: write the decision first.

Don't "sandwich" the truth. Sandwiching only makes sense when the decision or the mistake is not of huge significance. Beating around the bush in matters of great import will always harm the sincerity of your words.

After you've stated clearly what the decision is, right after that, you can justify it however you wish.


> Everyone should take note of this person's excellent structure: he put the decision first.

Going by my twitter feed, they implemented the decision first, with people discovering they were locked out of their twitter accounts and RAS before the announcement was made.


It's a hard problem to solve, but given that many of the folks being dismissed are engineers with elevated access to Twitter's data and services, it makes sense from a security and privacy perspective to disable access first. There's no good way to lay off 300 people at once. Hopefully Twitter actually follows through on the separation package and job search assistance. That's far more important.


Do former twitter engineers really need that much assistance in finding a new job? I'd assume people will be clawing at them.


It may not show a lot of trust in their employees, but removing access is a prudent move considering the motive and opportunity for malfeasance. The timing should have been simultaneous however.


Legitimately asking: Do you have any evidence that this achieves certain goals better than how this email was phrased? Are you sure those goals are the same as those of the author of this email?


You're right that the CEO's goals may not be the idealistic goals I'm thinking of. The goals I had in mind were: be honest with your employees about something terrible and show them, don't tell them, that you valued their service to the company.

Judging by the contents of this email: the goal might be to confound or confuse counter-arguments to the decision, limit the damage PR-wise (and stock wise), and above all, insulate the new executive staff from a groundswell of anger/hatred from the bottom.

My instincts as a writer, and maybe a bit as a human being, is that you shouldn't try to fool the people who support you. If the author of the email (probably not Dorsey) was a stronger writer, and perhaps free of some pressures, I'd like to think he or she could have both been fair to those under him or her, and also protected from their wrath.

I too would be very interested in seeing historical examples of leaders forced to write messages explaining tough decisions. Would you happen to have any?


Let's be practical, and I don't mean this in a cynical way: The goal isn't to actually BE honest.

The goal is for the employees to feel as if you ARE being honest, and that they have something positive to focus on that is not just plain disappointment and insecurity.

Plenty of corporate drones take this too far and focus too much on the sugar-coating to the point that only other top corporate drones think the email is a good one.

But I think Dorsey's passes the b.s. test (Most people's reactions, even those being fired isn't going to be "what a load of b.s.")

Could he be more direct? Yes. But it would come at a risk of coming off as callous and incosiderate.


I had read a couple of books both of which said the sandwich technique is an out-of-date way of delivering bad news and it's significantly better to do it immediately to help not continue to build up to the bad news that the person on the other side knows it coming (because, let's face it, the sandwich is obvious from 100ft away).

Unfortunately I can't figure out what books I read and I'm having a hard time finding studies (just keep finding damn buzzfeed like article about using the sandwich). If someone else finds these sources or debunks them I would be greatly appreciated :)


While not scientific, the example I can think of is in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (published: 1936). In the section dealing with how people read your messages, he lists an actual letter from a company apologizing about a delay [which reads just like any corporate e-mail].

Then he rewrites it focusing on what the person reading it is concerned about: themselves. The key was to focus on the questions a reader will ask, "How will this effect me?" and "What should I do?"


That's exactly one of the examples I was thinking of! Thanks!


The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz specifically mentions it being terrible.


I agree the email overindulges in euphemisms ("streamline", "restructure", "nimble", "change how we work") and filler phrases ("working around the clock", "moving forward").

But for the most part it does lead with the decision being communicated, i.e. that there will be a "restructuring of our workforce", commonly understood to mean layoffs.


The euphemism "restructuring of our workforce" (versus more direct and explicit language) is the exact type of corporate speak he disclaims. It's dishonest.


People interpret things differently. It's better to err on the kinder side of language and minimize the possibility that someone will interpret your attempt to communicate efficiently as simple crass disregard for the lives affected by the significant decision announced.

I think Dorsey's email is pretty crap-free. I think to the extent that he employs long forms or euphemisms, it's intentionally intended to communicate compassion.

Management is hard, because people are going to read any interpretation that they want into your actions, and there's almost always the potential of reading in a negative interpretation. You truly can't please everyone. All you can do is try to do the best, most reasonable thing, and keep as many people on your side as possible while doing it. There's probably a lot more people that would see "we're cutting" as crass than there are people that see "we're reorganizing" as patronizing.


I agree it's corporate speak (to a degree; there are certainly worse examples). But the claim in this thread is that he didn't put the decision first. He at least did that.


I think it may be fair to expect that when a representative of a large corporation disclaims anything, that corporation is somehow engaging in the behavior that it is disclaiming.

There would be no reason to make disclaimers otherwise.

It's a form of the, "I'm not a racist, but...", style of argument.


No, giving people a free pass ("may be fair") to lie is not acceptable, even if lying is expected and commonplace. It's still dishonesty and is supremely unprofessional.


We can still recognize it as being dishonest and unprofessional. One must meet the criteria of being dishonest and unprofessional before we can label it as such.

The fairness is in the labeling (we do not want to unfairly label those who were not actually dishonest or unprofessional; sometimes mistakes do occur), not in the response to the behavior.


To me, this is the worst email i have ever read about layoff announcement.

It did not assure me that there will be no more cuts in the near future. It will put fear in all twitter employees and they will be looking for work elsewhere.

"and other departments will be cut in parallel" what other departments? layoff announcement should be complete. This is an incomplete email about an incomplete decision.

"336" wtf, this email should talk in percentage, like, We plan to cut up to 1.4% of our workforce.

Complete bull (IMO)


He was speaking more about the STRUCTURE and not the CONTENT, as you are pointing out.


I thought I was one of few who thought this way; this is a good thread. "Front-loading" messages, especially company-wide emails, give the reader confidence. And by getting to the point, ironically I want to read the whole thing instead of have my eyes glaze over after the second sentence.

Bravo, all!


> Everyone should take note of this person's excellent structure: he put the decision first. If you are writing a decisive message that can greatly impact many people's lives: write the decision first.

I'm sure the guys being laid off appreciate their boss' rhetorical prowess.


An honest "I'm sorry, you're being laid off" is a hell of a lot better than "we're making structural changes that may or may not impact you over the next six months".


Team,

we thought we would grow very fast and we hired accordingly. Turns out we didn't grow that fast so now we're firing accordingly.

Please don't be mad at us! If things work out as we hope they will with Moments and all the rest, we may want to hire you back in the future because you folks are not so shoddy after all.

Cheers


That is part of the startup world. Companies stall, and companies fail. If stability is required, it should be worked into the employee agreement.

I don't know what is meant by "generous exit package", but it may be enough to tide the employees over to their next job.


Startup world? This is a public company with thousands of employees who can get rid of 336 of them. It's pretty far from the startup world. This is the corporate world, and it happens to companies with long histories when their environment changes.


To counter, Twitter is a growth stage company and while public, it's value is priced exclusively on future value. It is only a 9 year old company working out product market fit and has only had a few profitable quarters, I only noted feb 2014 but there are likely a few more.

So is it a startup? Idk wtf a startup is but Twitter isn't a blue chip.


To counter, Facebook has been around the same amount of time, and would you call them a startup? Are you saying if a company is successful, they are not a startup, and if they aren't, we'll just keep calling them a startup until they die off like most other startups?


Twitter is still a "startup"?


Startup is just a code word for "tech company" anymore.


"Anymore" is just a word used to mean "now" anymore. (I kid, but seriously, I've searched for analysis on the use of the word 'anymore' in the positive (eg, as something other than part of a 'not...anymore' clause) and haven't been able to find anything. Any links would be appreciated, I am legitimately curious as to when and how this became a thing).



Ranks right up there with 'infer' for 'imply' in usage changes which I will go to my grave hearing foremost as a brazen signal of incomplete education.

Kids: do not use either if you care about the judgment of your elders.

Bonus protip: until you vest, you should care.


"usage changes" which have been around since long before you were born. Are there other long-established regionalisms/dialects you have a bug up your butt about?

It might be pragmatic to care about the judgment of one's ignorant elders, when the ignorant have power over you, but in no other sense should one care about such opinions.


The first person to write "should of" and "could of" instead of "should've" and "could've" was certainly incorrect, because they misheard someone's speech and wrote it out phonetically in a way that no one had ever done before. At what point does the incorrect usage become so popular that we ignorant fools start teaching "should of" and "could of" as correct English to our kids?



I have family in the southeastern US who use "anymore" like the person you're responding to did (and they have for decades). I don't think it simply means "now". There's a slightly different connotation that seems somewhat negative. Kind of like: "It used to be like this, but now it's like this... and I'm not sure I approve".


That's an astute observation. It always strikes me as jarring when the speaker leaves off the "not" in the clause.... but on the rare occasions it happens, it's always about a chance in society/convention which is clearly not considered a positive.


Correction, startup is a code word for "tech company that doesn't make enough money to justify its valuation"

Or if you're a VC, it's "tech company whose current valuation is based on future value"


Reminds me of "indie" rock with big name bands being signed to big labels.


Any company that has yet to operate on a consistent business model is still a start up :-). But in twitter's case that is stretching it. Both ad funded and public I'd say they are a 'small cap company' rather than a startup.

That said, it's clear they are struggling to stay alive and that is a trait of many start ups.


So at what point does a company stop being a "startup" nowadays?


> So at what point does a company stop being a "startup" nowadays?

Wikipedia defines startup as a new business in the form of a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.[1]

Not sure where an exact "point" is (if one even exists) but would seem that Twitter (a nearly ten year old company with revenues of $1.4B) no longer fits that definition.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company


I heard that Twitter has no revenue only loses.. is that changed recently?


You're confusing revenue (money coming in) with profit/income (money left over after expenses). In 2014 they had revenue of $1.4B[1].

[1] https://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=TWTR+Income+Statement&annua...


Maybe everyone else just calls their customers "investors" for some reason?


They may not have turned a profit, but they certainly have revenue.


A (what-if-the-news-broke-via-Twitter) translation:

Fam, Shit got real, gotta drop, 336 deep. Mainly ingenieros. Don't get shook, all drops get $. Keep keeping on. Questions? Holla @ur boy. -J


Needs hashtags for full authenticity


True, but there wasn't any room left. But we know in real life, that would have been taken care of within the next tweet to rally the troops. That would probably be the most retweeted tweet of all time, based on all the fellow HQ Tweeps hoping not to be dropped next:

Keep ya heads up and Eyes on the prize fam. Stay woke & drop a RT/fave so I know its real. #TweepsGoDeep #GottaGoLeanToRegulate


No room for "Moments #FTW" unfortunately.


Checked Twitter. You're 1 character over the limit. Funny nonetheless.


It's exact now. Meant to and thought I did drop the extra space.


Dear Twitter,

They're going to let me be CEO again, but as part of the deal I had to fire a bunch of people. Mostly engineers since I'm told there are many of them who cost too much and don't seem to impact the top line. Please let's all be nice about the whole thing, so it doesn't turn into a PR disaster.

Jack


Let's be honest (and no offense to anyone who got fired), but twitter probably had some dead weight to shed. Sadly, I'm sure some quality engineers got the ax too. Way of the world.


Quality engineers and dead weight are not exclusive. Great people who are burnt out and unmotivated become dead weight to a company. When planning layoffs, it's normal to put people who are checked out, coasting, and/or clearly planning their next move at the top of the list. That doesn't mean they are not high quality professionals.


And at some places, the people who get laid off are the people who aren't friends with the right people in management. It has nothing to do with dead weight.

I have seen this exact thing happen in a company I used to work for. It was the catalyst that made me look for another job.

I'm not saying this is the case with Twitter, I don't know anything about Twitter as a company.


I doubt Twitter is making deep cuts so they can keep their friends. But it does help to like the people you work with.


Part of being a good software engineer is being tolerable to other software engineers. ;)


I think you misunderstood what I meant, people are less capable technically, but more capable from a "relationship building" standpoint will often spend as much time becoming friends with management so they are not laid off.

This probably doesn't happen in smaller startups, but I've worked in several medium and large size companies and have seen it happen.

It doesn't matter if you're getting along with your coworkers, they aren't the ones making the layoff decisions.


This is dead on. I think the biggest reason quality engineers turn unproductive is that they feel their efforts are wasted (pointless meetings, org policy requiring some inferior tooling/platform/language, etc.)

Those engineers are usually fairly vocal about obstacles. Managers should learn to interpret this signal, suss out the root cause (usually easy) and eliminate it (usually hard).

Twitter might actually be better served by promoting some set of the folks that landed on the cut list.


> suss out the root cause (usually easy) and eliminate it (usually hard).

Well in this case it maybe what happened. They are eliminating the root cause -- the actors ;-)

Basically always think twice and watch your back. HR is not your friend to confide in, being disgruntled and pointing to issues need to be done carefully. In an irrational organization it will backfire -- you are labeled as a disgruntled trouble-maker.


Or hell, great people who work on projects that get axed may not have been as visible from outside the project.

They might have written some of the best code in a feature that management doesn't want anymore (Twitter API anyone?) but that doesn't necessarily translate in being part of those that are kept.

Maybe the dev lived in a town where they are closing the whole office and relocation is too much $$$ compared to a package. Maybe she just hasn't been with Twitter long enough to shine outside of her immediate team (who're all being cut). Maybe the folks drawing up lists had to make some concessions to keep some of their friends employed (consciously or otherwise.)


Similarly I was laid off once as they decided to get rid of the whole department. This was a very large company so a department was quite a few people. No one survived, there was no judgement on if you were a start contributor or not. I feel no shame in talking about being laid off in that case as there was literally no indicator of my personal quality wrapped up in that.


Not really its the ones who wont make a fuss and the easy targets they tend to target - this is from experience at British Telecom


I'm always surprised people can never seem to see these things coming. If I was working there, I would've started looking two or three months ago.

Maybe they had some stock options or something they were holding onto??


Maybe they have families and don't want to upset the status quo until it's absolutely necessary.


I wonder if there are any risk metrics for one's primary employment. We apply sophisticated risk models to our investments, but I've never heard of anyone doing the same to their employer.

As a logical exercise, if we assign some risk to your employer terminating you (I imagine especially for publicly traded companies one could come up with some more-accurate-than-guess-formula), then there would be a point at which the risk of your current employer would outweigh the risk of leaving to find another job. Or, another way, the risk-reward between two different jobs could be measured (e.g. working at risky Startup X vs stable Retail Bank Y).

Links welcome!


Someone posted an algorithm to determine the likelihood of bankruptcy on here a while ago, you could modify that I guess.

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/assets/document... "Estimating the Probability of Bankruptcy"

One of the things companies do when growth stops and they want to increase profits is lay people off (it's kinda a classic MBA move).


Most people don't apply the even the crudest risk model to their investments nor their primary source of liquid capital, their job.


Which then in most cases is too late, and you're left in the lurch behind the 8-ball.

Case in point - Target's acquisition of the Zellers leases on their locations.

I had over a dozen people I know who were offered pretty lucrative jobs there. I know another half dozen who balked at their offers (including myself). The people who went were only there about 6 months. Right away, there were signs this was doomed.

For several months all I heard and read was stories about how this was not going very well at all. Two of my friends who took jobs started looking as rumors swept through their departments. They both found employment in short order, right before the roof collapsed and Target announced over 1,700 layoffs.

If you decided to wait it out, you were now entering a market were you had a lot of competition for your same job at any number of businesses in the area. Thus, reducing the likelihood of finding something quickly. I have several friends who still haven't found a job six months later.

I went through the first dot com bust with two startups. Because of that scary experience, I've always been leery of my continuing employment anywhere. I'm become somewhat adept at reading signs and realizing when something is about to go tits up. As such, I interview constantly, and always have an exit strategy for any position I take, whether its a perm gig or a contract gig. I constantly look over my shoulder and its served me well.


All of the engineers laid off could have job offers this week if they wanted, so this is not exactly like that situation. There may be people whose skills aren't in as high demand, but these are the folks that are often the last to see the writing on the wall.


Since the stealth layoffs last year at the same time, Twitter has been bleeding engineers left and right. The writing has been on the wall since August 2014.

Of the people I knew well when I worked there, the more talented ambitious has been gone for 6 months already.


I would imagine that rapid growth meant that twitter had a lot more tail (hr building services) than it needed.

Interesting that they call out hard to recruit engineering roles specifically - I bet every recruitment agent who has twitter guys and gals in his list is cold calling the ones still remaining.


This made me chuckle. I'm sure Twitter has made some missteps, but it's tough to let people go. They are putting just as much trust in you as you are of them. It becomes more tough as you grow, but the sting is still there. You want people to feel like they are worth something. And when you fall short it's a hit to everyone including management. I've been on both sides of these and people move on. This too shall pass.


Dear Team,

What do you say... you do here?

Jack


A decent human being always has perfect foresight and never has to make tough decisions that impact people.

If anyone is ever fired or laid off, the CEO should be immediately replaced.

Or alternatively, no one should ever be fired.


I can't tell if you're being serious or facetious? If you're serious you live in a Utopian fantasy world :) If you're being facetious, well played.


I don't know how you could read "a decent human being always has perfect foresight" in any way that isn't sarcastic.


Well, I can't disagree with the suggestion that if a layoff needs to happen, the CEO has failed and needs to be replaced.


Dear human resource,

Twitter no longer requires the services of 336 current employees. Twitter must do what is best for Twitter and what will lead to optimal financial measures over the next 12 months.

The executives of Twitter chose who to fire based on the belief that the remaining employees will lead to the best products and therefore greatest profits.

HR will provide people getting fired with a list of open positions elsewhere. Twitter will give fired employees some money to help them survive and make non-fired employees feel better about their own situation.

Firing people is unpleasant for the executives of Twitter.

Please believe that you can affect the decisions that are made by executives at Twitter.

-Twitter


Am I the only one who doesn't see much difference between your version and his?


It's removed all the fairly meaningless corporate buzzwords like:

    roadmap
    structural change
    nimbler
    streamlined
    impactful 
And many more.


While they may be jargon, they're not meaningless. I mean, roadmap? Is there anyone who has worked at a tech company that doesn't know what a roadmap is, and why it's important? Is there anyone who doesn't know that nimbler means better able to react to changes in the marketplace?


They're jargon as well as buzzwords. They mean things, but they're unnecessary.

"Roadmap" -> plan, strategy

"Structural change" -> internal reorganizing, lay-offs

"Nimbler" -> fewer employees, which we hope will make us become more agile

"Streamlined" -> ambiguous and essentially meaningless by itself

"Impactful" -> revenue- and/or growth-generating, maybe "important"


You're suggesting we revert to Chaucer's English because linguistic drift is bad?

I'm as much a hater of overuse of jargon as the next person, but for his intended audience I don't think this is an example of that. If one doesn't know what any of those words mean, then "Hello, welcome to Hacker News."


No, it's simpler English. It's not trying to put artificial distance between speaker and audience. There is a power component to these language queues.

It's like the difference between legalese and regular English.


* cues


But I'd argue that the "jargon" version is more precise in most cases. I mean, to me, roadmap means a very specific thing about lining up high-level features with milestones, while plan and strategy mean something more generic. Same with "nimbler" - seems like just an easier way to say more agile.

I'll give you "structural change" though, which I think is just a euphemism for layoffs.


> But I'd argue that the "jargon" version is more precise in most cases

Legalese is also more precise, but also violates the "give it to you straight" principle.


Isn't "agile" more buzzwordy than "nimbler"?


Only if referring to "Agile" methodologies. I believe here the usage is "able to move quickly and easily".


Its meaningless because no one has official corporate goals of becoming less streamlined, or less nimble, or a less clear roadmap.

Content free filler might be a more polite way to put it.

I could demonstrate the uselessness of content free filler by inserting (VLM took a breath here) (VLM fixed a typo here) all through my post above, but all it would do it boost word count and water down the core message, kinda like .... yeah.

There is another story on the front page at this moment about training a neural network to generate clickbait... I'd like to see a trained NN that eats CorporateSpeak and outputs English. It smells simple; at least at a low performance level it just has to pattern match and eat "content free filler" or whatever you want to call it.


They are euphemisms.* People react poorly to euphemisms when hearing bad news, because it feels like it's spin. Which it is.

*Perhaps with the exception of "roadmap", which is actually a better word choice than "plan" or "strategy" as it connotes a long journey ahead.


If those offend, you should try reading any financial research articles that delve into details or PR wire announcements. ;)


That is of course assuming that you like being offended.


I'd hire you to fire me any day.


They say any employee you hire is someone you have to imagine being able to work for.


Team,

We're cutting 336 people from our workforce to strengthen the company.

We are deciding how to streamline Twitter, Vine, and Periscope to focus on projects with the greatest impact.

Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning. It's a peek into the future of discovery.

We'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job.

Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization, and other departments will be cut in parallel.

Thank you all for everything. As always, please reach out to me directly with anything.


Team,

We're cutting 336 people from our workforce. Sorry for that. We'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job.

Jack


Team,

336 people will be fired. We hope it brings our stock price back up.

Jack


This is like corporate email golfing, I love it. I propose "Hey" instead of "Team".


Hey,

Stock in the dumps, 336 chumps are fired.

Jack


Plus side: would definitely fit in a tweet.


@jack: "just slimming down my twttr"


Yo,

336 people out. We'll compensate.

J.


employees -= 336



Twitter's Servers are running autonom. We just do not need you anymore... Thanks... AI


    Error: No payroll records for your username. ("We fixed the glitch!"


That's not far from reality either: https://twitter.com/bartt/status/653946266938818561

> I've been impacted by $TWTR's layoffs. This is how I found out this morning.

[screenshot of iOS account showing inaccessible @twitter.com account]


<3 office space


at least make it rhyme!

Hey, Stock in the dumps, firing 336 chumps. Jack


In this particular example, whats important is keeping the character count under 140, so your proposal wins 1 point. (insert golf clap). I will see your "Hey", and counter propose "Yo". That frees up two characters for use elsewhere vs the original "Team".


That one's a proper improvement.


It could have been a lot worse. People on here seem to confuse being polite with corporate speak. Yes, he could have summed it up in a single sentence: "I'm firing 336 people." It would also have been a hell of a lot more rude.



I would change:

> Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning.

To:

> Moments, which we launched last week, illustrates the problem. It missed the mark.

I honestly don't think Jack or Ev think Moments, in its current incarnation, embodies what Twitter is or should be.


Now try to write it again in 140 characters ;)


You missed a couple.

* "Reach out" - I doubt that Mr. Dorsey wants people literally reaching out to him.

* "Streamline" - literal physical air flow is probably not involved here, and it's not even a particularly good metaphor.


[deleted]


Some of the weasley language you'd propose cutting is likely there for the people staying at Twitter, not those whom are getting laid off. E.g.,

> "Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization"

As an Engineer, you don't want to hear that corporate is slashing just your team, and that it's affects the entire company. You're right, it doesn't matter to those who were laid off, but it does to the people who aren't.

> "Thank you all for your trust and understanding here"

Same thing. You're right that someone who is being laid off doesn't care or want to understand. They're probably really asking those who are staying on, and losing their colleagues, to understand why those people are leaving and that it isn't a statement about a perceived lack of value in the engineering team in general.


I'm all for eliminating corporate euphemisms a meaningless talk, but…

Some of this is just human. Not wanting to hurt people's feelings is real. Wanting to get that across is human.

I mean, you have this kind of thing in everyday life, without lawyers and CEOs. Want to hang out after work? Sorry, my wife would kill me. Little lies & euphemisms are human.


> The world needs a strong Twitter

Really? Does it? I think Twitter needs a strong Twitter, shareholders need a strong Twitter even Twitter employees need it. However the world is, at best, ambivalent about Twitter, if it disappeared tomorrow a replacement would spring up within a few weeks if the world really needed a way to shotgun their messages into the ether.


A few automated trading algorithms would become marginally less effective. Some poorly written ones might crash or make a few million dollars worth of bad trades.

So, you know, there's that.


I would assume Twitter would eventually find a reason in the terms of service, or add it, where that sort of thing isn't allowed. Therefore they could create their own poor implementation of the idea in a desperate attempt to generate some revenue.


I don't know why the parent post is being downvoted: trading using Twitter sentiment analysis is apparently a thing [1][2].

[1] http://www.deltixlab.com/research/an-automated-trading-strat...

[2] http://cs229.stanford.edu/proj2011/TrusheimChakoumakosYendlu...

Edit: typo


> I don't know why the parent post is being downloaded

You may be browsing from localhost but the rest of us has to download this HTML...


there have even been a few instances shown on HN where these algorithms picked stuff up from the internet and have run with it, i.e. placed real trades. I remember at least 2 instances of this recently, once where the story was fake and once where an earnings forecast(i think) was released on a site but they had not published the URL so the assumption was no one would see it. The bot made a significant sum on the second example.


Many stories are deliberately faked to push the sentiment bots. Its a murky world.


Fascinating - especially if the loop get closed and trading algorithms can generate short-lived tweets (Markov chains?) to disrupt their opponents sentiment analysis.


The world also needs fewer* trading algorithms.


Well, really, the world doesn't need any. But I'm curious why you think the world would benefit from fewer.


Isn't there no real value added with HFT? Isn't the question then 'why don't we have fewer?'


Apparently the people doing it are gaining something from it, else as you note there would be less of it. I don't know whether it's value-creating or not as a whole; there are different types and classes of HFT operations and algorithms (including those that try to trade based on rumors and sentiment), and various arguments about who is or is not better off for their existence. Someone who wants to assert that it's harmful needs to have some kind of tally of all the benefits/profits and all the harm/losses that shows net value destruction, or at the very least a complete ethical argument. All we got was "the world needs less of this", which doesn't really do much to further anyone's understanding nor provide a digestible view on the matter.


HFT is generally touted to provide liquidity, at the least. Of course, there are some that argue against that.


Odd. While incredibly flawed it's still the single best toolto fight against censorship and public and private control. If you have doubts go look at how many national governments have blocked it at one time or another. The world is better off with a strong Twitter.


Saying it like that makes it sound too much like the brand is what is needed as opposed to the tool. To put your words another way: The world is better off with a strong tool to fight against censorship and public and private control.

If Twitter starting taking massive cash payments from governments to filter content, it would be a strong Twitter with lots of cash, but not a strong tool to fight against anything.


Yes, but Twitter deserves credit for creating something that didn't exist. It's global IRC for the masses. That and it brought the Internet real-time search. That's huge and did not exist before Twitter.


Well, in the world Twitter was created, maybe it was needed. But that is not the world you live in right now.


But the brand can't be dismissed. The brand attracts users which amplify the reach of the message of an individual. Without the brand and network you're just standing on a street corner with a bullhorn.


It's really just that a strong social media network is needed. Twitter's format works well for this, but I wouldn't be under any delusions that no one would fill the gap that Twitter left. Social media isn't very entertaining unless it capture a significant portion of the market, I'm fairly confident that people would settle on a new service instead of being fractured across a bunch of different social networks. This is a big part of the reason why Facebook and Twitter have lasted so long. There are lots of other companies providing very similar services, I've tried a few, but without friends on there there isn't much of a point.


> While incredibly flawed it's still the single best toolto fight against censorship and public and private control.

But is it the best because it is better than the alternatives we would have without it is, or is it the best because its dominance in messaging prevents better tools (in terms of "the fight against censorship and ... control") from being developed or gaining traction and critical mass -- e.g., is the goal you point to really being served by a strong Twitter, or held back by it?


It's funny how accurate Silicon Valley(HBO show) is - https://vimeo.com/98720197

Everyone wants to make the world a better place


That show is great and it really goes to show how the rest of the world sees 'us'. It is funny to see how accurate they are.


Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, Vanguard, Jennison Associates, and Blackrock need a stronger Twitter. [1]

Also interesting to note that over the past year insiders have only bought 1.5m shares while offloading 12.5m.

[1] http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/twtr/ownership-summary


This doesn't always mean that insiders are dumping stock because they know the company is doomed. Sometimes yes, but when you have a company like Twitter where a pretty significant percentage of compensation is in stock options and RSUs, then you're going to have lots of insiders selling in batches, so they can actually use that compensation to get things like houses and cars and diversified investment portfolios.


... and pay taxes


good joke there!


All of the above companies are asset managers, not principal investors (even MS in this context). Meaning that they don't benefit from a stronger Twitter, but the individual investors and pension accounts who own their ETFs and index funds do.

You might have a point if rich people's investment vehicles (like hedge funds, private equity or venture funds) owned the majority of TWTR - but they don't, as you showed.


All of the above companies are asset managers, not principal investors (even MS in this context)

And what happens if those asset managers lose money year after year or don't keep up with others?


> Really? Does it?

When you're the CEO of twitter, yes. You're not going to say anything else.


I know one company [1] who set its mission to "Advancing humanity through the power of software". I wonder what's the credit when your values are quoted in a parody show ("Silicon Valley", HBO).

[1] https://www.atlassian.com/company


Well, according to a lot of newbie developers, twitter can actually be written in a weekend.

/s


Whatever value Twitter has, the majority of it definitely isn't in its technical implementation.


Especially if they need thousands of people to maintain it, when WhatsApp needs 50 employees even though they process an order of magnitude more messages.


Well, I guess that's true in a way.

Many could certainly clone the Twitter service in under a weekend, and since nobody would be using it, it would certainly appear they did a good job.

What you couldn't do in a weekend is provide something to operate at the scale Twitter does, such that it could be dropped in to replace (or handle all the traffic if Twitter ceased to exist).


I think you have a point. I use Twitter a lot for professional and sometime personal reasons however it does have potential to be replaced by a better networking site. Even though its a powerful tool, I don't think it helps users and businesses like it use to, unless you pay for features. Ashton Kutcher explained how Twitter, not Facebook, can be the new Myspace: http://www.askmeanything.me/influencers/ashtonkutcher


The world was arguably better when the options were IRC or Usenet.


Well I argue that point. I love both but I can't imagine running the streets of the Arab spring with my laptop, or trying to keep my phone battery going while I maintain my connection to an IRC network.

There are some things where the combination of public, easy to use, short, sms friendly are a big plus for some things. Not that twitter is the only one doing these things or that they couldn't be built on ICR.


The alternatives have no base, no brand and aren't as universally accessible (regardless of blockages). The world needs Twitter because Twitter is the most efficient way of reaching a large audience quickly NOW. Regardless of what the future holds, or "what-if" scenarios the reality remains that Twitter holds a place as the world's voice in certain situations.


Funny that you get upvoted for this sentiment when I said the exact same thing about WhatsApp a year ago on HN and it got buried to hell.


If anything, the world needs a Twitter that doesn't censor as much:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151012/22104032520/just-...


A replacement might as well be Twitter. So what you're saying is... nothing.


The number, 336, is roughly 10% of their employees - which is pretty much exactly the number that Jack Welch recommended turning over each year to improve the work force.

I often wonder whether these "layoffs" aren't actually layoffs, but simply performance based assessments. It's not like Twitter is shutting down an entire office, or abandoning some technology, and letting everyone associated with that office/technology go - presumably they are being selective on other factors as to who they let go - and I'm guessing that performance is likely a key factor.

If, over the next year, twitter doesn't hire back that 10%, or hires employees in different technologies/positions (I.E. Web developers instead of thick client developers, sales people instead of developers, etc...) - then this is a layoff. But, if headcount returns to the same number, in roughly the same job areas, then this is just a performance based annual rank/yank process.


A large company with stable growth can afford to lose and retrain 10% of its workforce each year. It's also a lot more difficult to get fired from a very large company, so some forced fat-trimming is often necessary. Twitter is not that big, and it's growth is not very stable right now.

Any layoff is going to be a morale hit, and they're likely to lose some very talented people in the aftershocks. The last company I worked for laid off 25% of the employees, and within a few months another 10% had been poached or found other places to work (myself included).


This seems like common sense. I know if there are layoffs at my company, the first thing I will do is start looking around.


I worked for one of those mega corporation that followed Welch's book, only they didn't have the courage to openly state it, oh and screw the top 30%. They would "layoff" 10% every year blaming the bad economy.

A friend even tried to fire a guy for bad performance and high management told him to wait for the next "annual layoff", that it would be easier.


I have seen this happen many times in big companies. Even people who clearly should have been fired long ago are kept around until the next round of layoffs. I think it is because it is simply easier on management as well as the fired employee's themselves: "it's not you, it's the recession/company/etc." Also seems to be the way to get rid to bad employees when they were worried about getting sued for descrimination because of sex/race/age/etc.


It should be aligned to whatever functions they are stopping doing. I think the message indicated they were focusing on high impact areas (whatever that might mean). The opposite of that is low impact areas would likely lose staff, right?


That's slightly different than layoffs though. If they were focussing on Periscope / Vine / Moments instead of some other initiatives, then presumably you could simply shift developers/sales/marketing from one area to another - particularly in this market when finding developers is very difficult in the bay area. Heck, even leaving a region doesn't prevent a company from giving their employees the opportunity to physically relocate.

A good indication will be if any developers/marketing/sales, etc.. working on core Twitter/Vine/Periscope/Moments teams are let go.


Even if your layoffs were 100% based on refocusing on certain areas, surely you'd (often) still want to keep the best employees you have in areas you no longer care about over the worst employees you have in areas you still care about, if you have to get rid of someone.


It's true that you do what you can to hold onto your top 1-5% of employees - but, I've been through two real layoffs - one at Netscape, and one at Loudcloud, very little differentiation occurs below that layer. At Netscape, when Microsoft effectively killed the browser-as-a-product space by giving theirs away for free, entire buildings were let go, and all the client side developers, and wan-dialer people, customer service, sales - 100% of the divisions were just gone, with pretty much zero concern as to how "good" they were.

Same thing at Loudcloud, 1/3 of the company that had revenue bearing jobs went to EDS, 1/3 of the back-end developers went to Opsware, and then the other 1/3 (including everyone in the field, all the service delivery/sales teams/support) - were just let go, with very little attention to how good they were.

The difference between these types of these "real" layoffs, and "faux" layoffs, is that in "real layoffs" - companies will try and fight to hold onto the top 5%, but the bottom 95% are let go. In the "faux" layoffs, the bottom 5-10% are let go, but the top 90% are basically okay.

Of course, the reality is that it's never totally black and white, and any real world reductions-in-force are is likely to be some combination of these two, which is why I like the term "Reduction in Force" rather than "Layoffs" - though there are probably some legal reasons why companies use the exact word "layoffs"


Both companies had the same founders, correct? I'm not saying they are, but they could be idiosyncratic.


In HR /IR speak layoff implies that it might be tempory - this is an out and out redundancy


This. I never understood this mentality that all cuts are bad or evil or whatever. Funny, we never question when these companies go on a hiring spree. No one asks, "Do they need this many engineers? Will these people have jobs in two years?"

Restructures happen all the time, especially at dotcoms. If you work in this industry, then you can expect some level of volatility.


No one asks, "Do they need this many engineers? Will these people have jobs in two years?"

Clearly you're missing @Pinboard from your life.


It's probably because it's always the little guys who get fucked by it. The executives, who are the ones who got the company into the position where it needed to make those cuts in the first place, never feel any effect from it, when they should be feeling things the most.


"we plan to part ways with up to 336 people from across the company. We are doing this with the utmost respect for each and every person."

Bart might disagree:

https://twitter.com/bartt/status/653946266938818561


Did you read his followup email? He said they called but he did not pick up.

Whenever you have a large layoff, it is fairly standard to lock accounts immediately.


Exactly. For security reasons, you have no other option, even if it's rude.


That's ok,

But the opposite should also be true. Don't scream 'disloyalty' when a employee wants to leave on a short notice.


There's likely a severance package, so pay will continue for a period (usually at least two weeks, often several weeks per year of seniority). Not that this blunts the message much.

And FWIW, I tend to agree with your comment regarding loyalty -- that ship sailed long ago, 1980s, possibly 1970s.


For the employees affected, the "generous exit packages" is all that matters. Do you know what I consider to be generous? 6 months of pay, no less. What did they probably get? 4 weeks. It's disgusting to see this kind of language in an email, when the employees are obviously being screwed beyond belief.


That is very US-centric.

In many places (in the world) you are expected to for months after you are laid off. In many european contries, layoffs must be announced a long time before they happen (a maximum number but not specific jobs).

In any event, you are expected to be loyal to the employer.


It's also not uncommon to tell your employees they don't need to come in to work during that last month.


Did you check the screenshot? Access was removed at 5:24AM, but the voicemail wasn't until 7:22AM.


Access was removed from Github. Not necessarily from his email.


Sure, I don't think anyone claimed otherwise.

Pulling your repo access without notification isn't exactly what most people would view as, "parting ways with 'the utmost respect for each and every person'".


This is like being escorted out of the office. You no longer have access to company resources.

Why does this seem so foreign? Why would repo access still be needed?


Who said it seemed foreign?

Why would repo access be terminated without prior notification?

The only topic here is how this behavior deviates from how Twitter claimed it would handle itself.


What is disrespectful about removing repo access? What, did he need to fix those last-minute bugs for his former employer?


The disrespectful part is discovering that you've been laid off via a side effect of the layoff, rather than being told by a person.

It's true that layoffs are (even more) difficult and complex in the case of a remote employee, but this doesn't mean that we should see something appalling and simply throw up our hands and say "what were they supposed to do". We solve complex, difficult problems every day -- when the solutions are valuable to us. This is a demonstration that treating their employees with respect is not valuable to Twitter.


He could have unpushed work, or some tools that he would like to recover. Effectively, wasted effort.

Also, I could imagine it being frustrating trying to figure out why your access has been revoked for two hours until some company rep calls you to tell you that you are no longer wanted.


It's standard, but it's shitty and unnecessary.


That seems a little unfair to Twitter - he's a remote worker, so they couldn't have the Bobs meet with him in a conference room. He does report "a side effect of WFH. HR can't wait for you to come in. Granted they also called but that went to voice mail."


Holy &#$^%, that's harsh. I mean, usually you announce the layoffs but leave it for a few days as you talk to people, look for voluntaries etc. Cutting a remote worker out as you send the announcement email is unwarranted and cold, and burns bridges unnecessarily.


This. It's the thing that stands apart from the rest of the email. "Up to 336". Huh? That is far too specific. Either that was an exact percentage of staff, or they have the list of 336 people, and may reverse on up to a couple of dozen if they fight for their positions with good explanations as to why they deserve to stay.

"Up to 336". The fact that phrase made it into the email is unbelievable. Who, being at the head of a company so large, writes with that kind of language?


> The roadmap is focused on the experiences which will have the greatest impact. We launched the first of these experiences last week with Moments, a great beginning, and a bold peek into the future of how people will see what's going on in the world.

That Moments is mentioned so high up in the email isn't particularly reassuring...since it means they haven't launched many other initiatives of note recently. Moments as a feature is extremely disappointing given the years of interesting discoveries that Twitter has yielded algorithmically via its, well, "Discover" tab. What's on Moments looks like a half-baked newspaper front page except when you click on an item, you go to tweets about that item instead of a full story.

I don't want to pile on the project as it is new...but it should've been given more thought and design time given how much prominence "Moments" has on the interface (it is one of four main icons on the menubar)...Nearly all of the stories are hours old...e.g. "Wave of terror attacks hits Jerusalem" and "Playboy covers up"..."FedEx truck splits in two", granted, is news to me...but not something that makes Twitter unique to me.

There's so much more potential in the Trends section...OK, maybe Twitter wants to filter out potentially visually NSFW topics like #NoBraDay...but things like #MH17 and #VMworld and #ILoveYouAboutAsMuchAs...just show me an automated feed of tweets by reputable sources (rather than spambots or random kids) so I can understand why these topics are suddenly trending without having to click through the trends tag and sort through a overwhelming timeline.

edit: that said, I like all the other products...besides core Twitter, Vine and Periscope are standouts (at least, as a consumer)...I just think that "Moments" isn't worth putting into the spotlight, unless there is literally nothing else to be proud of publicly.


> What's on Moments looks like a half-baked newspaper front page except when you click on an item, you go to tweets about that item instead of a full story.

How? When I click on it, it just peaks at the next picture.

Moments is a glorified image slider.


Hmm...on closer inspection, clicking on a Moments item does not seem to bring up a timeline of "Top" tweets (as it does when you click on or search for a "Trending" topic)...it seems to bring up a human-curated list of tweets.

Here is the "moment" for "Wave of terror attacks hits Jerusalem"...there's only about 10 tweets there:

https://twitter.com/i/moments/653855067158614017

And here's a Twitter search for "terror attacks jerusalem"

https://twitter.com/search?q=terror%20attacks%20jerusalem&sr...

Though Fox News may not be everyone's choice of top news source, scrolling down, you'll see a great variety of tweets...maybe not as efficiently informative as the curated tweets, but I'm sure a hell of a lot more expansive and scalable.


They don't even seem to have added Moments to the Android app, or at least I can't find it if it's there.


There's a lightning bolt icon added to the stream view. It appeared in a recent update, and there was a little bit of a walk through.


Thanks for replying but I definitely don't have that, and definitely haven't had that walkthrough, and there's nothing on the web app either.

-

While writing this comment, I came across this verge article [0] which says "For now, the tab is shown only to US Twitter users" - so if anyone else is wondering, US only. Meh.

[0] http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/6/9457267/twitter-moments-pr...


> Emails like this are usually riddled with corporate speak so I'm going to give it to you straight.

Well, since you said it that way, I should assume that what comes next will not sound like a steamy pile of meandering corporate speak, right?

> The team has been working around the clock to produce streamlined roadmap for Twitter, Vine, and Periscope and they are shaping up to be strong. The roadmap is focused on the experiences which will have the greatest impact.

A roadmap focused on high-impact experiences. Got it. I hope your firings go really well, Bob.


Eventually people in a certain environment just start talking like that. He might not even realize how silly that sounds.


It happens in academia too:

http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/


He said he would give it to you straight, not ELI5. They are focusing on fewer things that they believe are the most valuable, and stopping stuff that isn't core to their purpose. What about this is confusing to you?


What you said is as near the definition of "giving it straight" as one might expect to follow his preface. What he actually said is as near the definition of corporate speak as possible. There is no confusion on my part. Perhaps Jack is the one confused about what people mean by "corporate speak".


If you understood exactly what he meant, then it was pretty straight. Especially the bit about how many people are being let go and from where, that's remarkably forthcoming.


Forthcoming as that may be – an understanding listener does not a pretty straight statement make.


how would you have phrased it?


"We're laying off up to 336 people, with the biggest impact to Product and Engineering. We'll be providing generous exit packages and helping find new jobs. Sorry. It's our fuckup, not yours."


It would have been better to phrase it the same, but leave out the part about giving it to everyone straight.


>> What he actually said is as near the definition of corporate speak as possible.

No, it's really not.

Only on HN. <eyeroll>


"As many of you who have(had) vested stock with us know, our stock and investor faith have collapsed - and in a desperation move to win back our shareholder's trust, we are 'going lean,' so to speak, so we spent a mid-six-figure sum in hiring an outside consulting agency to eliminate human capital - so we didn't have to review it internally - regardless of what you've built with us."


That's actually pretty easy to understand and communicates what the plan is.


I see what you're saying -- but if the "generous exit packages" and "help finding a new job" are true, then it's still way better than some companies I've worked at, where the firings consisted of two weeks of pay and being escorted out of the building on the same day (of course, said companies weren't in SV).

Of course, given his buzzword-filled talk, those "generous exit packages" might just consist of two weeks pay as well.


"We just fixed the glitch"


He has to write this email in a way that doesn't make investors recoil, and he did his best.


"The world needs a strong Twitter, and this is another step to get there."

Let's not get carried away here. Twitter is great. I use it too much of the day. But the world hardly needs Twitter.


Whatever. It's the equivalent of a parent thinking their baby is the most beautiful baby in the world, when it may not be the case to a more neutral observer.

I think he strikes a good tone in both emphasizing the importance of the work they are doing at Twitter, and how they need to do better. I think less than perfect objectivity can be forgiven.


In fact, many places in the world did need twitter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Revolution


Reading that just indicates that the world needs social media, not Twitter per se. Many of the quotes there seem to indicate that Twitter's role was exaggerated.


The world needs the internet; the specific software running at the endpoints isn't particularly important. Twitter was used because... it was already used by the people involved.

The benefit of any place or tool for social activities is only tangentially related to the benefits provided by that place or tool. The value is the people that are using it, who can (and do) move all the time.

Anybody interested in the relationship between a service like twitter and the people that create it's value by using it may be interested in the talk[1] given by an admin o fark.com a few years ago, where they discuss how they almost destroyed their community ("you'll get over it") from a failure to remember why people came to their site.

If there is one lesson that Twitter or any other social media business needs to learn, it's the one discussed in talk: involve the people that use your service at least somewhat in the changes you make to the service, and absolutely don't surprise them with sudden change, or they will find some other place to hang out.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnVeysllPDI (language warning, if that matters (it's veyr mild))


> The world needs the internet; the specific software running at the endpoints isn't particularly important. Twitter was used because... it was already used by the people involved.

Hmm, the world needs networked communication; the specific protocol running at the endpoints isn't particularly important. TCP/IP was used because... it was already used by the people involved.

Further, the world needs easy communication; the specific mechanism to communicate isn't particularly important. Networking was used because... it was already used by the people involved.


> In fact, many places in the world did need twitter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Revolution

LOL, sure as hell. Twitter was blocked in most of these countries (and Turkey too). The outcry was huge, but guess what... They 'survived'.

Twitter is just a medium. The preferred medium for some. There are countless alternatives nowadays, no one needs twitter.


It seems unsuitable for coordinating mass protests to me, because it's a single point of failure. In many countries, the government controls all Internet access, so blocking Twitter would be relatively easy. Sure, people can use Tor, but will enough people have it when Twitter gets blocked?

Seems like what's really "needed" is a distributed Twitter-like platform, using a DHT or something. Keep it small and simple enough, and a client could run on many devices 24/7, updating every a few times an hour, or more if the user's actively using it.

User identity might be the hard part, because a long hash isn't very human-friendly. But perhaps that could be solved by a centralized directory authority mapping user ID hashes to Twitter-like usernames. The mappings could be cached by clients in case the directory went down or got blocked. Sort of like how PGP keyservers work, letting clients get keys when they need them and add them to their local keyring.


> It seems unsuitable for coordinating mass protests to me, because it's a single point of failure. In many countries, the government controls all Internet access, so blocking Twitter would be relatively easy. Sure, people can use Tor, but will enough people have it when Twitter gets blocked?

No, you can set up endless blogs (using Wordpress or Joomla or any other CMS with Twitter plugins), and include a twitter stream in it. You can post to twitter by email or using similar plugins.

A government cannot block all those sites.

Blocking twitter is not enough to block all content coming from and going to twitter.


Sure, you can set up what are effectively Twitter proxies, and sure, the censors won't be able to keep up playing whack-a-mole.

But then the users have to do the same thing, preemptively finding such proxies and jumping between them. I'd guess that that would be a good enough result from the government's perspective.

And that's just read-only stuff. Post by email? DPI could drop packets containing emails addressed to Twitter, even if they're being sent through a mail server in another country. And, sure, you can proxy stuff, but again, the point here is the masses. If 95% of people are blocked from access, that would probably prevent mass protests from happening; or at least keep them from happening quickly and unexpectedly.

But besides all that, when the government cuts off the country's Internet access entirely, creating a nationwide intranet, none of those blog proxies are going to help. The only thing that is going to truly work in such a situation is peer-to-peer stuff.


> preemptively finding such proxies and jumping between them

This is why it is so important to create protocols for communication instead of single-point-of-failure services. While it is still possible for bad actors to interfere with traffic, it is much harder to shutdown an entire network of federated servers. In contrast, a service can be disabled by simply throwing legal papers at the person running the service (or otherwise threaten them, bribe them, etc).

> DPI could drop packets containing emails addressed

Which is why that email should have been encrypted. Even non-authenticated opportunistic encryption would make that kind of DPI much harder and more expensive.

We've had encryption for a long time, and there is absolutely no excuse for to not have encryption in all network software. Unfortunately, a lot of software has been badly negligent in their duty to keep their users safe.

> cuts off the country's Internet access entirely

...they should be left with a split network, still able to communicate internally. It is pure hubris to believe that a single service will always be available in any situation; when international links are involved, some amount of loss-of-service should be assumed. This is why email allows multiple MX records - servers fail, so build in backups, some of which can be local.

> peer-to-peer stuff

Yes, though the model to copy is federated services like email.

The power of the internet is that it IS peer-to-peer. No 3rd party has to grant authorization to listen(2) for connections or connect(2) to a remove host. This has been forgotten because of the damage that NAT does to the network (you aren't a full citizen ("peer") on the internet when you have to ask the NAT device to forward your packets.)

Now, after about a decade of failing to heed the warnings about NAT, the digital imprimatur[1] is being constructed and running proper peer to peer (no 23rd party) is harder than ever. Hopefully IPv6 can reverse this trend.

[1] https://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/digital-imprimatur/


I'm confused. It sounds like you're arguing against me, but you basically agree with me. Except for...

> Yes, though the model to copy is federated services like email.

I disagree. For one thing, DNS. How many average users will be able to reconfigure their systems to use a DNS server besides the one their ISP provides? And when the national government cuts off the nation's external Internet access, what good will 8.8.8.8 be?

It seems obvious to me that, for this kind of use-case, peer-to-peer, DHT-type services are what's needed. Federated is better than centralized, but it would still be easy to censor and block. Even P2P protocols could be blocked by ISPs blocking inbound connections to their customers, but barring that, it would be difficult.


I think the point is that twitter has evolved into a kind of news/whistleblower network and that the world needs that. It could be something else than twitter but right now twitter is filling out an important role.


My theory is that Twitter is way more popular with newspapers than the general public because it is easy to extract trending tweets compared to almost anything else and generate stories based on it.


Agree but so is Reuters, still it's their news that a lot of newspapers uses for their papers.

Twitter is a news source not a newspaper.


>Twitter is a news source not a newspaper.

While I agree, I also hate this. A Twitter trend can inspire good journalism, but it is not in and of itself journalism. Too many media sources slap a tweet on TV or on a website and call it journalism.


Event's aren't journalism either but without them there is nothing to do journalism about.

Twitter simply connects the event's with the journalists :)


That's what Twitter was nearly from the beginning. That's not been their focus in recent years though, their focus has been on being a media platform.


Yeah but not enough IMO.


Lots of people getting hung up on this line. Let's try to keep in mind it's an executive talking to the workforce of his company.


We very much need twitter. What other platform is there for teens to say 'DADDY' to world leaders? What other platform is their for those world leaders to put their feet in their mouth? These are the important things to online bullies and comedians.


  "Emails like this are usually riddled with corporate speak so I'm going to 
  give it to you straight."
Three paragraphs later...

  "So we have made an extremely tough decision: we plan to part ways with 
  up to 336 people from across the company."
Edit: My bad, I should have been clearer in what I meant. There isn't really any corporate speak, but I wouldn't call 3 paragraphs of fluff 'giving it to you straight'


It's not great, but it's certainly better than something like "We've decided to move forward with a new strategic initiative that will involve a synergistic restructuring of our organizations and in that process it's possible that some people may find themselves seeking opportunities"...


Gah, I really hate those "our firing you is your opportunity" lines.

It's more like "our incompetence has forced us to fire you but of course we, the incompetent ones, will stay; think of this as your opportunity to find a better company without incompetent management, good luck with that".


Where I work, they called it a "workforce rebalancing," which I thought was a nice touch.


Or "plan social" in french.


Meh, same shit... Somebody got fired after working very hard on a product, that's all I know.

None of the people who got fired are like "OMG... Jack is such a great guy for firing us without so much fluff"

If anything is just good for him, and press, just for him, if anything his message basically say "We want a strong twitter and you are weak".


That is very clear communication. A very specific number of people to be let go.

Corporate speak usually refers to deliberately obfuscatory language, and I see none of that in what he wrote.


How is that corporate speak? I'm sure it was a tough decision and "parting ways" while maybe isn't the most direct way to say it, is far from obscure corporate jargon.


Because there are two intervening paragraphs of corporate speak between the "giving it straight" and that which was supposedly given straight.


What about that seems like corporate speak to you?


not OP, but what was announced 3 paragraphs later could have been written in the same sentence: "Emails like this are usually riddled with corporate speak so I'm going to give it to you straight: we plan to part ways with up to 336 people from across the company."


For a half-page email, this seems awfully nit-picky :)


I'm not OP but I'm guessing "...we plan to part ways..." - however, twitter is hardly going to say "...we decide to sack..."


Probably saying 'part ways with' rather than 'lay off'


Specific numbers like that makes for a nice change. So far touch wood I've never been in a company where layoffs have happened, but people I know who have been often just get notice that "some" layoffs will happen and it rarely seems like most of management has a clue how many they're intending to cut, with there being some target $$ value in salary reduction or similar in mind.

Often the process then more broadly resembles a farce, with managers trying to protect their mini-empires by sabotaging others. Giving an explicit number seems to indicate that Twitter has a clear idea of exactly what they're trying to do here.


Even getting notice that layoffs are happening is doing well. At one company (somewhat awkwardly in my first week there) everyone was rounded up into a meeting area, and it was announced that layoffs were happening, and by the end of the day we'd know if we still had a job.

Later on in that job they handled it even worse, with a gradual attrician over several weeks of people suddenly finding out they no longer has a job, and would be paid their notice period. No idea how things went from there, since that was when I jumped ship.

(And hello! I still find it a bit odd when I see people I know commenting on Hacker News.)

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