• Twitter under Musk has laid off more than 6,000 people
  • He said "most" of Twitter advertisers have either come back or pledged to return
  • Twitter changed BBC's label from "government-funded media" to "publicly funded" hours after the interview

Elon Musk reveals Twitter now has only about 1,500 employees. The social media platform had 8,000 workers when the billionaire acquired the company last October.

Twitter under Musk has laid off more than 6,000 people. The first round of layoffs was in November when 3,700 workers were let go.

"It's not possible to talk with that many people face to face," Musk said in an interview with BBC on Tuesday as he admitted not everyone who's been laid off was informed in person about the status of their jobs.

"This is not a caring [or] uncaring situation. It's like, if the whole ship sinks, then nobody's got a job," the Twitter CEO went on to explain. He added it was "not fun at all" to let thousands of people go, while acknowledging that "it's been really quite a stressful situation" at the company over the past several months.

The interview came days after Twitter added a "government-funded media" label to one of the public broadcaster's main accounts on the social media site. The British media group objected to the label and reiterated it mainly received funding from the public through a TV license fee.

Before Musk's admission of the current workforce count at Twitter, CNBC reported in January the company's full-time headcount was cut down to about 1,300 active, working employees after the takeover. Internal records viewed by the outlet also revealed Twitter had fewer than 550 full-time engineers. It also said around 75 of the remaining employees were on leave, including about 40 engineers.

Twitter reportedly had at least three rounds of layoffs since Musk announced after the first round that staff cuts were over at the social media company.

On finances, the SpaceX founder said Twitter is now "roughly breaking even." He added most of the advertisers who left the platform after his acquisition have returned.

"We could be profitable, or to be more precise, cash flow positive this quarter if things keep going well. I think almost all advertisers have come back or said they are going to come back," the tech mogul noted.

Semafor last week reported some of the world's top advertisers such as Colgate-Palmolive and McDonald's had privately discussed the "chaos" in Twitter ahead of a meeting with Musk. The Twitter CEO is set to attend a conference next week, where he is expected to woo advertisers who have abandoned the platform to return.

Diana Haussling, Colgate-Palmolive's vice president and general manager of consumer experience and growth, said she was looking forward to the conference but was "mindful of the harmful and often racist rhetoric of Elon Musk."

McDonald's chief of marketing and customer experience Tariq Hassan raised concerns about Musk's "willingness to leverage success and personal financial resources to further an agenda under the guise of freedom of speech" that in turn was "perpetuating racism."

Speaking about his controversial tweets that irked some of the advertisers, Musk admitted they "shot myself in the foot" not just once, but "multiple times."

Musk also addressed the controversy over Twitter labeling BBC as "government-funded media."

"If we use the same words as the BBC uses to describe itself, that presumably would be OK," the Tesla founder and CEO said in the interview. Twitter changed the label to "publicly funded" hours after the interview.

Musk also admitted he only purchased Twitter because he would be forced by a court otherwise. Musk acknowledged making "many mistakes" along the way after he took over the social media site.

BBC correspondent James Clayton, who interviewed Musk, said "at times," some of Musk's answers during the discussion were "absurd." He noted the tech billionaire "wriggled out of some questions" but there were also some "he took the time to consider."

The 51-year-old billionaire acquired Twitter late in October. He has implemented drastic changes in the company since then, such as the introduction of Twitter Blue paid subscription and temporarily changing the platform's bird logo to a Shiba Inu dog.

Illustration shows Elon Musk photo and Twitter logo
Elon Musk talked about Twitter's finances, the mass layoffs, and advertisers in his interview with BBC published Tuesday. Reuters