Twitter offers new stock exchanges to staff

Twitter Inc. is offering new equity grants to staff who vest after six months, according to an email sent late Friday, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The company plans to offer a liquidity event in about a year, where employees can cash in some of their equity, the email shows. The number of employees receiving the share grants and the value of the shares could not be ascertained.

Compensation is one of the many questions facing employees since Elon Musk’s tumultuous takeover of Twitter last year. According to former employees, Twitter typically offered stock grants, which vest over several years, as part of employee compensation. Stock-based compensation has been a popular way for many technology companies to attract talent.

In response to a request for comment, Twitter’s press email replied with a poop emoji, which Mr. Musk recently tweeted, will be the company’s automatic response to media inquiries.

The new awards vest over four years, according to the email, and are in addition to and separate from the old Twitter share that was converted to cash at the time of the October 2022 acquisition.

Twitter spent nearly $630 million in stock-based compensation in 2021, the last full year it publicly reported financial results before going private, according to regulatory filings. The company had more than 7,500 full-time employees that year.

Multiple rounds of layoffs and other departures followed Mr Musk’s takeover, and the company has not said exactly how many employees it now has. Mr Musk said in December that the workforce had fallen to about 2,000.

When Musk took Twitter private for $44 billion in October, the company said employee stock awards would be converted into the right to receive cash for $54.20 per share, the acquisition price, according to a regulatory document.

But employees still had questions about how Twitter would handle compensation in the future as a private company.

In February, Mr. Musk told staff in an email that Twitter would award “very significant stock and other compensation based on performance.” Staff would receive more information on March 24, he said, according to that email reviewed by the Journal.

It wasn’t the first time Mr. Musk had talked about compensation. He told staff earlier in November that Twitter would continue to deliver supplies and said the plan would be similar to what SpaceX offers, according to an email seen by the Journal. “Exceptional amounts of shares will be awarded for exceptional performance,” Mr. Musk added.

Illustration: Preston Jessee

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the legal name for Mr. Musk has been using company stock to attract and pay employees for years. Because SpaceX is privately owned, executives who own shares eligible for sale cannot find a buyer for them the way investors who own shares in public companies can.

Instead, SpaceX periodically invites current and former employees to sell their stock if they wish, potentially allowing them to monetize their holdings. The company sets an aggregate value of shares that may be sold in the offering, and it is not guaranteed that anyone wishing to cash out shares will be able to do so or sell all of the shares they wish, former employees said.

“We’ve been able to provide workers with liquidity,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said at an industry event in February.

SpaceX’s valuation has risen over the years, allowing employees and former staffers to make significant gains when sold. A recent offering appeared to value the company at about $140 billion, nearly five times more than in 2018, when SpaceX worked on a funding round designed to value it at $30.5 billion.

Write to Alexa Corse at

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