Twitter Tries Calming Employees as Deal With Elon Musk Looms

Mr. Musk, who is paying $54.20 a share for Twitter, has made it clear that he thinks he is paying too much for the company as its stock has swooned in recent months. “Obviously, myself and other investors are overpaying for Twitter right now,” he said on Wednesday during an earnings call for Tesla’s quarterly results.

A spokesman for Mr. Musk’s legal team declined to comment. Twitter declined to comment.

Inside Twitter, employees have been on a knife’s edge since Mr. Musk became the company’s largest shareholder this year. Concerns about his ownership have been compounded by the state of Twitter’s business, which has been inconsistent.

Early this year, Twitter considered cost-cutting measures, including not replacing employees who left because of attrition and small rounds of layoffs, two people with knowledge of the plans said. In recent months, Twitter has aggressively cut costs by freezing hiring for most jobs and reducing its real estate.

Workers are also concerned that Mr. Musk will not continue compensating them as planned, five employees said. Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Musk agreed to continue paying Twitter employees their comparable salaries and benefits for one year. But their equity compensation will change.

Twitter employees currently receive regular grants of shares in the company, which are earned over time based on their employment agreements. But, with Mr. Musk’s planning to take the company private and Twitter’s stock set to be delisted, these grants are to be replaced with cash. Shares that employees have already earned will be paid out at the price that Mr. Musk agreed to pay for Twitter.

Some employees said they were concerned that Mr. Musk might not honor that agreement given how he had repeatedly changed his mind on the deal. To address concerns, Twitter created an internal document to answer questions about how equity compensation might shift under Mr. Musk, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

On internal Slack channels, workers have tried to advise one another on how to manage their finances during the merger process, said three people familiar with the conversations. Some have been advised to download their equity contracts in case Mr. Musk attempts to delete or change the agreements, they said.