Twitter Inc. has shut two of its three offices in India and has instructed its staff to work from home as part of its cost-cutting measures. The move underscores CEO Elon Musk's mission to get the struggling social media service in the black by the end of 2023. The company had already fired over 90% of its 200-plus staff in India in late 2022, and the latest move involves the closure of offices in the political center New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai. Twitter still operates an office in the southern tech hub of Bengaluru, mostly housing engineers.
India is regarded as a key growth market for US tech giants, including Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google. They are making long-term bets on the world's fastest-growing internet arena. However, Musk's recent moves suggest he is attaching less importance to the market for now. Twitter has become one of India's most important public forums, hosting heated political discourse and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 86.5 million followers. However, Twitter's revenue in India is not significant for Musk's company, which also has to contend with strict content regulations and increasingly savvy local competition.
The exodus of workers, many of whom were fired, since Musk's acquisition has raised concerns about whether Twitter can sustain its operations and regulate content. Musk this week said he may need until the end of the year to stabilize the company and ensure it's financially healthy.
Since the $44 billion buyout, Twitter has failed to pay millions of dollars in rent for its San Francisco headquarters and London offices, been sued by multiple contractors over unpaid services, and auctioned off everything from bird statues to espresso machines to raise money. Musk has also openly floated the idea of bankruptcy and cited a “massive drop” in revenue as advertisers fled over concerns about Twitter's ability to weed out undesirable content. The platform has also experienced significant glitches and outrages, most recently just this month.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the office closures in India.
The move to shut down two of its three India offices is part of a broader effort by Musk to cut costs and streamline operations. However, the move could have repercussions for Twitter's future growth in India, where it faces fierce competition from local players and where social media platforms are increasingly under scrutiny for their role in spreading misinformation and hate speech.
Twitter has struggled to gain a foothold in India, where its user base is still dwarfed by that of Facebook-owned WhatsApp and local platforms like ShareChat and Koo. However, the platform has become an important space for political discussion and activism, and its closure of offices in key cities could be seen as a blow to free speech and expression in the country.
Overall, Twitter's move to shut down two of its three offices in India underscores Musk's focus on cutting costs and getting the company back in the black. However, it also raises questions about the company's future growth prospects in India and its ability to navigate increasingly complex and fraught regulatory and political landscapes around the world.