The second week in January witnessed a sweeping wave of layoffs across major tech companies, including industry giants Amazon, Google, and Duolingo, as they strategically adjust their workforce sizes to align with evolving business needs and economic uncertainties.
Though alarming but significant, the heavy downsizing in these top tech companies has left many questioning the safety of their jobs.
Twitch, owned by Amazon, announced plans to reduce its staff by 35%, approximately 500 employees, while Amazon’s Audible division also underwent a round of cuts affecting 100 employees.
In parallel, Amazon unveiled intentions to trim “several hundred” employees from its Prime Video and MGM Studios divisions following a thorough examination of its business operations. Google, too, contributed to the trend with layoffs impacting “hundreds” across various divisions, including engineering, hardware teams, and developers working on Google Assistant.
Duolingo opted for a distinctive approach, trimming 10% of its contract employees as it shifts focus towards leveraging artificial intelligence for content generation. The company assured that none of its full-time employees would be affected by these changes.
Joining the workforce adjustment trend, AI startup Humane and communication platform Discord both declared workforce reductions, with Humane cutting 4% of its workforce and Discord streamlining its operations with a 17% reduction.
Video game software developer Unity Software also disclosed plans to cut one-quarter of its staff, approximately 1,800 jobs, as part of a strategic restructuring plan aimed at positioning the company for sustainable long-term growth.
Despite the ongoing layoffs in the tech sector, the total number of cuts this month is notably lower than the previous year, contrasting the 278 companies that implemented headcount reductions in January 2023. This current wave of adjustments reflects the evolving nature of the tech industry amidst economic uncertainties.
Furthermore, the broader economic landscape is witnessing significant workforce reductions, with banking giant Citigroup recently announcing plans to cut 20,000 employees over the next two years, following a challenging quarter and a $1.8 billion net loss. This move follows similar actions by major U.S. banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase in response to shifting financial conditions.
Millions of employees and employers are concerned if this cascading effect and growing trend of heavy downsizing in the tech industry will be experienced in other industries. The global adoption of Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot in the workforce- though heavily resourceful- might render millions jobless.
Written by: Noel Nortei