Amazon layoffs hit Alexa as other employees seek answers.

The largest layoffs in Amazon’s history began on Tuesday, with job cuts in the company’s Alexa voice assistant division and voluntary takeover bids sent to many HR employees. But a lack of communication from Amazon’s top leaders for two full days after the first news of impending layoffs sparked chaos and anger among grassroots employees scrambling for answers in a rare downsizing in the giant’s 27-year history. technological.

The cycle began on Monday morning when the New York Times reported that Amazon would eliminate about 10,000 jobs, or about 3% of its worldwide corporate workforce. Amazon had recently frozen hiring in some divisions and canceled some tentative ventures, and a company executive warned in recent calls with reporters and Wall Street analysts that buyers are tightening their belts and Amazon would too.

After the first report of expected layoffs, many employees thought they would soon hear from someone at the top of the company: CEO Andy Jassy or one of his deputies. It didn’t happen. Ultimately, it would be 48 hours between when news of the layoffs first hit the press and when a top company executive acknowledged the harsh reality to the rest of the company. And even then, it was unclear to many employees whether they would soon lose their jobs as well.

“I don’t even know if I want to work for this company anymore,” an Amazon senior manager who has been at the company for more than 10 years told Recode Wednesday afternoon, referring to the lack of transparency from company leaders. “This is a horrible way to treat people.”

The job cuts at Amazon are just the latest among the ruling class of tech companies accustomed to years of dominant growth and convinced by pandemic-fueled corporate success that an economic pullback was not on the horizon. The mess of Amazon’s layoff launch also underscores how rare such a moment is for the king of e-commerce. Amazon laid off several hundred employees in 2018, but its last significant job cuts were in 2001, when it laid off 1,500 people, or 15% of its then staff, in the wake of the dot-com crash and in amidst a brief US recession.

This time, on the evening of the day the news first broke, many employees put their day jobs aside to talk to colleagues to glean crumbs of information about the future of their livelihoods. Some managers told employees they thought their division was safe, but others said they knew little. A source familiar with the decisions said company executives wanted to communicate the layoffs to those who were losing their jobs first, before broadcasting a message to the entire company.

Tuesday morning it started to happen. Some Amazon employees, especially those working in Alexa’s flashy but unprofitable voice assistant division, have found a calendar invitation waiting for them for a 15-minute video conference call. He was told the bad news via a script. Soon, laid-off employees began flooding LinkedIn with their personal ads. An employee of Alexa’s AI division said 60 percent of his team were fired “attributed to scaling/prioritizing projects.” While Alexa is one of the flagship brands Amazon is best known for, the company hasn’t been able to generate significant revenue for the voice assistant service in the eight years since its launch, and its popularity has soared. The division that houses the tech gadgets of Alexa and Amazon has lost more than $5 billion a year in recent years, the Wall Street Journal reported in early November.

Meanwhile, other employees compiled lists of those divisions that were experiencing cuts and those that might be safe, based on a combination of LinkedIn confessions, self-reported information and inside rumors.

Then, on Tuesday evening, large swathes of the company’s human resources division, including recruiters and software engineers, received a takeover offer or voluntary release program. In exchange for voluntarily leaving their jobs, Amazon offered employees three months’ pay plus one week’s salary for every six months they stayed with the company. Whoever received it has two weeks to make a decision. Division leaders wouldn’t rule out involuntary layoffs in the new year if more cuts were deemed necessary. It’s unclear whether the severance package would be the same or different, and this lack of clarity has created more angst for both employees and managers.

“They resent being given this ‘pick’ without any insight into what the future holds,” a manager told Recode.

By Wednesday morning, most Amazon employees still hadn’t heard anything from the company’s upper echelons, despite previous days’ cutbacks in Alexa and some other areas like the Amazon Luna cloud gaming business. Employees said little work was being done and business-oriented emails had become a trickle.

“The truth is, if the company were more transparent, we wouldn’t have this shit show,” another Amazon senior manager told Recode. “Now you have the majority of the population wondering if they will be next.”

Finally, around 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Amazon executive Dave Limp, who oversees the company’s wide range of consumer electronics gadgets and division that runs Alexa, posted a message about the cuts that started on the day. previous one.

“After a thorough series of reviews, we have recently decided to consolidate some teams and programs,” he wrote. “One of the consequences of these decisions is that some roles will no longer be in demand. It pains me to have to deliver this news as we know we will lose talented Amazonians from the Devices & Services organization as a result.”

Around the same time, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel gave a public comment to reporters.

“As part of our annual operational planning review process, we always review each of our businesses and what we feel we need to change,” it reads. “While we’ve been through this, given the current macroeconomic environment (as well as several years of fast-track hiring), some teams are making changes, which in some cases mean that certain roles are no longer needed. We do not take these decisions lightly and are working to support any employees who may be affected.”

Unfortunately for Amazon employees, no news of a layoff in their division thus far doesn’t mean it won’t come. The New York Times reported that in addition to the company’s Alexa and HR divisions, Amazon’s core retail business will also eventually suffer cuts. A source with direct knowledge of the layoff plans told Recode that corporate reviews — and specific decisions about who might be next — are still ongoing across the company’s divisions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: