Big Tech Layoffs 2023

Good luck to any QT3ers affected.

Super-classy how they’re doing it right before their earnings call. Which is appropriate, because these kinds of layoffs are often more about putting on a show of thriftiness for stock analysts than they are about organizational/financial efficiency.

I was there in 2009, when they had their first-ever layoffs, cutting 5K out of 94,000 at the time. That one was bizarre, because they laid off 1,400 people day one, and then took a few months to RIF everyone else. Super-great mood around the offices at the time, as you’d imagine. And even then, analysts dissed them for such a “small” layoff.

(It was also vicious, because I knew one guy who was a really high performer and the star of his team who was RIF’d. Nobody could figure it out and he said his boss said he was canned via algorithm – he’d been in the same level too long, so he was selected despite being a super-high performer.)

I mean, on the bright side, the rest of the tech industry can at least take solace in knowing nobody is going to handle it as poorly as Elon.

I’m lucky enough to have only been through one layoff (knocking furiously on wood right now). I was in wave 3 of 3 of the culling. I can still distinctly remember how utterly depressing that last year was because there was no doubt we were all going to be let go, we just didn’t want to bail early and lose our severance.

Every day, walking into a barely populated office past the desks of all your friends and coworkers who had already been cut, knowing your time was coming but just not knowing if it was going to be in the next week, the next month, or what. Just a totally miserable experience that I slogged through for a year.

I very much do not miss working any longer for a tech company that did RIFs so often it stopped making the news. Matter of fact I know for certain they did one Q4 of last year that received zero news coverage.

Culling the herd was standard practice and rarely a year went by where the company didn’t fire 5 or 10k.

The vast majority of firings looked every bit as rational as handing out speeding tickets at the Indie 500.

At this point, the unemployment rate in the tech sector is like 1.8%… so I’m thinking folks aren’t going to have a lot of trouble finding work, luckily.

I think it will be difficult since the laid off and the thousands of others are suddenly competing for much fewer jobs.

In the next 10 years the expectation for the US is for 400k+ programming/tech jobs to be created, but in that same time 1.3M graduates are expected.

If the numbers are true (they are projections, and the job creation number seems low to me), attrition won’t be enough to take care of the difference.

That said, it’s worse for new graduates. I imagine engineers with experience at MS will be able to find jobs.

I worked for a few years with a start up that was developing some supposedly amazing network server. Spent 5 million in R&D, hoped to get venture capital. Never happened.

I was the accountant and every two weeks the owner would look at the books and decide if he would give us another hundred grand for payroll which I had to process the next day. This went on for 18 months. Never been so stressed, started having upper stomach pains that radiated to my back. Doc said stress.

After closing the startup, took 2 months off to recover, no more pain.

Small tech but just nothing i want to ever go through again.

I like working at small tech companies, usually startups. Yeah there’s always the “will the doors close tomorrow” worry hanging over one’s head, but it’s a lot better than working at a big company and wondering if random layoffs will come down from on high because the CEO wants to appease the analysts. Having done both in my career, I have a definite preference for the smaller companies. The kind of place where one can go to lunch with the CEO sometimes and feel like most everyone else in the company can know and appreciate your contributions.

Uff … this is me. I hope things don’t come to that here.

I’ve been very lucky going through four rounds of layoffs at various companies/times and only affected once. And that one was basically, “we’re closing the office, nobody comes in anymore.”

At least that makes it easy to explain in interviews why you were let go!

Microsoft seemed completely dialed in for the last couple of Surface device generations, and both the effort and marketing involved with them totally diminished. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided those cuts had big impacts on the Surface family of devices.

What’s weird is that these layoffs are happening before/in absence of an economic downturn.

Corps behave like lemmings. When one or two jump off a cliff they all jump.

The C level tears speeches to the departing are especially fun, followed closely by the internal memos to those who survived saying it was industry best practice comparisons that led them to the RIFs.

It seems like these companies hired like crazy during the pandemic because business was booming, but now that business boom is tapering off and they’re finding that they’ve overhired for a back-to-normal-ish environment.

For example, 10k layoffs at Microsoft seems like a lot, but they hired 40k people in the last two years.

Jesus, I have several friends that are on pins and needles right now from both MS and Amazon going through layoffs. Best of luck to everyone.

What’s a RIF?