Amidst market turmoil, a looming recession, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the number of global tech layoffs has been rising at an alarming rate.
According to layoffs.fyi, this year has seen 850 tech companies laying off a total of 136,989 employees so far, and this number has been rising gradually across the months.
These layoffs are also hitting close to home — Singaporean employees are getting axed from top tech companies such as Microsoft, Twitter and Meta.
After facing an upsurge in online activity during the pandemic, these tech giants were led with a false sense of security. The pandemic created a once-in-a-lifetime condition for exponential growth and encouraged tech firms to hire and expand more than they should have.
However, the growth rate of these companies were unsustainable — the tech bubble has burst and these tech giants now have no choice but to downsize.
Here is a roundup of some of the major tech layoffs in 2022:
Sea’s e-commerce arm Shopee axed its employees for the third time this year a week ago, as Sea struggles for profitability. According to posts shared on LinkedIn, affected teams include those in human resources and from learning and development.
The tech giant started its string of global layoffs in June, after reporting a nearly US$1 billion quarterly loss for Q2 2022. The company let go of its regional workers in its ShopeeFood and ShopeePay teams, following its shutdown in India and France after just five months of its launch in those regions.
Shopee then subsequently slashed more jobs in September, affecting staff in its gaming arm Garena and research and development unit Sea Labs. In the same month, the company also closed its operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.
According to Sea co-founder Forrest Li, the company wants to tighten its expenses as it seeks to cut costs. In an internal memo, Forrest said that Sea’s top management will forego their salaries, and that its leadership team will not take any cash compensation “until the company reaches self-sufficiency”.
Besides that, Shopee also made headlines for withdrawing multiple job offers based in Singapore. The e-commerce firm reasoned that due to adjustments in hiring plans, a number of roles at Shopee were no longer available.
Sea has reportedly laid off more than 7,000 employees, or around 10 per cent of its global workforce over the past six months, from which about 180 employees, or three per cent of its workforce, were reportedly laid off in Singapore, China and Indonesia in total.
In an attempt to cut cost, Facebook owner Meta Platforms laid off 11,000 employees, or 13 per cent of its global workforce this month — marking its first ever mass layoff since the company was established 18 years ago.
According to Meta’s executives, the layoff has affected employees at “every level and on every team, including individuals with high performance ratings”. More than 50 of the affected positions were located in Singapore.
In addition, about half of the affected jobs comprise tech roles, while the rest were mostly in business and recruitment.
Aside from cutting down its workforce, Meta will also be reducing discretionary spending and extending its hiring freeze through Q1 of 2023, said Mark Zuckerberg in a message to employees. Meta first announced its hiring freeze back in May.
These cost-cutting moves comes at a time where Meta’s metaverse division, Reality Labs, is raking up losses amounting to US$10 billion a year, and this amount is expected to increase in 2023.
Furthermore, the company also issued a weak revenue forecast for Q4 2022, falling short of Wall Street’s expectations for earning. Prior to this, Meta posted two consecutive quarters of revenue declines.
After closing his US$44 billion purchase of social media platform Twitter, new Twitter CEO Elon Musk laid off half of the company’s global workforce, or about 3,700 employees, in order to lower its costs. According to Musk, the company is currently losing more than US$4 million per day.
Former CEO Parag Agrawal, finance chief Ned Segal and senior legal executives Vijaya Gadde and Sean Edgett were among the top executives laid off by Elon.
Although it is unclear how many employees in Singapore were affected, The Straits Times reported that the job cuts included individuals from its marketing, sales and engineering teams.
In addition, The Straits Times also reported that the billionaire is also considering firing more Twitter employees in the sales and the partnership sides of Twitter.
These layoffs represent the biggest workforce cull Twitter has seen, but this is not the first time the company has sought to reduce its headcount. Twitter initially implemented a hiring freeze in July, and subsequently laid off 30 per cent of its talent acquisition team.
In response to the layoffs, former CEO and co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey took responsibility and apologised through a tweet for growing the company size too quickly.
Digital asset trading platform Coinbase Global eliminated 60 jobs in its latest series of job cuts as it plans to downsize its recruiting and institutional onboarding groups.
“Today’s actions were surgical. We are just making sure we are not wasting a dollar,” Coinbase’s chief financial officer Alesia Haas told Bloomberg TV.
The company’s job cuts come a week after “crypto market headwinds” contributed to Coinbase’s Q3 net loss of US$544.6 million for 2022, compared to a Q3 profit of US$406.1 million last year.
Prior to this, Coinbase laid off about 1,100 employees, reducing its workforce by 18 per cent back in June in response to a volatile crypto market. In addition, the company also implemented a hiring freeze and rescinded a number of accepted offers.
While the number of affected employees in Singapore is unknown, former employee Clinton Gleave wrote on LinkedIn that the company cut off access to its systems before notifying said employees.
“We lost systems before being notified, I even just reserved a place for team drinks for tomorrow,” he said.
According to Bloomberg, Coinbase had hired aggressively in recent years, with its workforce ballooning by about 1,200 employees this year to take advantage of the crypto craze. However, its CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong cited a recession in the U.S. and an upcoming “crypto winter” as to why the company made these job cuts.
Indonesian tech conglomerate GoTo Group laid off 1,300 employees, or about 12 per cent of its workforce including in Singapore last Friday to curb costs and reach financial self-sufficiency.
According to The Straits Times, the job cuts will affect employees in all divisions. The company, formed through a merger between ride-hailing provider Gojek and e-commerce firm Tokopedia, did not disclose the headcount of employees affected in its Singapore operations.
A quick search on LinkedIn unveiled some of the roles impacted by the layoffs, which includes engineering roles, data science roles and creative roles.
In addition, GoTo announced its financial results for Q3 of 2022 just yesterday — the company saw its net loss widen to 20.32 trillion rupiah (S$1.8 billion) for the nine-month period ended September 30, a steep increase from 11.58 trillion rupiah last year.
Online payments processor Stripe laid off about 14 per cent of its workforce, or 1,100 employees, in late October in a bid to reduce its costs amidst rising inflation and interest rates as well as the looming recession.
“We overhired for the world we’re in, and it pains us to be unable to deliver the experience that we hoped that those impacted would have at Stripe,” said Stripe CEO Patrick Collison in a memo to staff on November 3. He emphasised that these job cuts were necessary to correct Stripe’s leadership’s errors of judgement.
A particular LinkedIn post by Isabella Mendoza, Stripe’s partner development manager based in Singapore, pointed out that the company’s people and recruiting team was hit the hardest in this layoff.
In order to aid retrenched Stripe employees to secure new jobs, two tech researchers in Singapore put together a spreadsheet comprising the details and job experiences of the former Stripe employees. At least 30 affected employees based in Singapore have put down their names on the spreadsheet.
Back in June, Wall Street Journal reported that Stripe has lost its valuation by 28 per cent. The company was last valued at US$95 billion after securing US$600 million in a funding round back in March.
The company is now valued at US$74 billion.
Microsoft laid off about one per cent of its global workforce, or about 1,000 employees, in October following its slowest revenue growth in more than five years in Q3 2022.
Although the layoffs were spread out across the company, some of the most impacted divisions comprise gaming and government services. The number of affected employees in Singapore was not disclosed.
According to Forbes, these layoffs are reportedly a part of ‘structural adjustments’ to streamline Microsoft’s workforce in the face of extensive macroeconomic issues.
“Like all companies, we evaluate our business priorities on a regular basis, and make structural adjustments accordingly. We will continue to invest in our business and hire in key growth areas in the year ahead,” Microsoft said in a statement to Axios.
This round of layoffs comes after Microsoft improved its compensation packages for employees. In May, the company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, announced that the budget for merit-based salary hikes would double to retain top employees.
Prior to this, the company told its employees back in May that it would be slowing down hiring in the Windows, Office and Teams groups as it braces for economic volatility, according to The Business Times. Two months later, Microsoft began eliminating a number of job offers.
Amazon.com laid off its employees in its devices group last week and is targeting around 10,000 job cuts globally, including in its retail division and human resources, as reported by Reuters. The company’s devices group works on the Alexa virtual assistant.
The elimination of 10,000 roles through reductions in more units will amount to about a three per cent cut in Amazon’s roughly 300,000-person global workforce. The company has offered voluntary buyouts to some human-resources staff, the source familiar with Amazon’s job-cut plans said.
The number of affected employees in Singapore is still unknown.
“We continue to face an unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment,” said Amazon senior vice president of devices and services, Dave Limp. “In light of this, we’ve been working over the last few months to further prioritize what matters most to our customers and the business.”
Amazon has announced periodic layoffs since 2000. However, each round has numbered in the hundreds or less, in contrast to the recent announcement.
These layoffs are expected to extend into 2023 as its leaders continue to make adjustments. “Those decisions will be shared with impacted employees and organisations early in 2023”, said Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, in a letter to the company’s employees.
Featured Image Credit: Edgar Su via Reuters/ Salon/ Forbes/ Michael Petraeus