Layoffs on Layoffs
On January 20, 2023 I saw a new thread on the top of Hacker News named: "Google to reduce workforce by 12k". This linked directly to a post from Sundar Pichai about letting go of 12,000 employees.
If we look at Google's size though, 12,000 employees is barely 6% of the workforce so while 12,000 sounds like a very large number its all relative to the company size. So lets look at other companies who've done layoffs in past few months.
- Google - 12,000 - 6% (January 20, 2023)
- Microsoft - 10,000 - 5% (January 18, 2023)
- Salesforce - 8,000 - 10% (January 4, 2023)
- DoorDash - 1,250 - 6% (November 30, 2022)
- Kraken - 1,100 - 30% (November 30, 2022)
- Carvana - 1,500 - 8% (November 18, 2022)
- Amazon - 10,000 - 3% (November 16, 2022)
- Meta - 11,000 - 13% (November 9, 2022)
Probably a lot more in there - you could check out layoffs.fyi to get the full story, but I'm more interested in the reasons behind all these layoffs.
You could take the obvious answer that our planet isn't doing too well in the economics department. Perhaps this is the result of wars and viruses or some mixture of corporate greed, but more than likely this is over my head of comprehension.
What I do what to go through is my perception though from a few angles.
Everyone else is doing it.
In this angle I believe we have a few companies laying off folks from the pure implosion of Crypto and how many companies were affected by that. However, once you have a sizable chunk of companies laying folks off and getting praised for how they handle it - its time for others to join in without being the bad guy.
Some companies are heavy on personnel
My guess is that some companies just have too many people. I say this because I've been at a few meetups where verified employees of various companies have just admitted to basically doing nothing. They take advantage of this and just burn through hobby projects. It seems like a pretty cool gig to get paid to do nothing and work on what you want.
Now that isn't fair to say all folks laid off are doing nothing and worthy of a layoff. In most cases I'm guessing businesses forecast how many employees needed in the future to handle new business or growth, but guess wrong and you are over populated with not enough funds to handle it and have to trim.
What I've noticed in my very basic example - when my savings interest rate is low - the market is doing great. When my savings interest rate is high - the market is going bad.
Stretch this example to companies and I believe it applies. We saw companies as an attractive investments to push returns. This helped spawn and breed this impossible feat for a company to continue to have extreme profits each year.
Which I think at some point turns against the company - take what we see with any social media platform. A feature that changes is the loss of chronological order for some AI intended iteration of what you should see to push retention. I blogged about this before because I was so upset when I could no longer sort YouTube in order of most recent.
We just saw it again with Twitter a few days ago putting a new default "For you" tab in my face to control the ordering of my feed. I'm convinced these features come out when money needs to be made.
All in all we are probably past 200,000 employees let go and I'm not sure if this is just the beginning or near the end. It does help establish which companies take the responsibility and provide good severance package and which ones do not.