A spate of high-profile technology conglomerates have announced large scale employee layoffs in the past month. It comes amid a period of lower consumer spending, fears of a recession, and a reconfiguration of company priorities.
Major tech layoffs have been occurring in the last few months. They first made headlines when Elon Musk fired key members of Twitter after purchasing the company, and after Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, sacked 11,000 workers (13% of its staff) in November. There have been further job cuts at big tech companies in the last month. This includes at Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Spotify, with the number of layoffs ranging from 600 to 18,000 employees.
Why’s It Happening?
Tech companies experienced strong growth during the pandemic, meaning they hired more staff to accommodate higher consumer demand. However, this growth hasn’t been sustained over the past few months. For example, in a message to Google employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said they saw “periods of dramatic growth” over the last two years, and that they “hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today”.
The Rise of AI?
In messages shared with employees this month, the CEOs of Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Spotify all said that the job cuts were part of restructurings that were being done to reflect new priorities for the companies. Investments in artificial intelligence, or AI, were named by Microsoft and Google as a key part of future growth. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the start of 2023 “showtime” for the tech industry, saying that employees would need to deliver “meaningful innovation” to create a stronger future for the company.
Company executives are also bracing for a tougher economic period amid concerns about a global recession. It’s expected that consumer spending will plateau or dwindle in a recession, which means that companies will be receiving less revenue. To ensure that the company can survive a downturn in spending, they are forced to cut its costs. One way to do this is to reduce the wages being paid to employees, which is achieved by laying off staff.