Tens of thousands of tech employees in jobs previously thought to be secure and high-paying have had to pack their bags in recent months. They’re seeking out new positions as a downturn in the wider economy hits the tech industry especially hard. SoundCloud, one of the leading music streaming platforms favoured by emerging artists, added its name to the growing list of struggling companies this week, reportedly cutting up to to 20% of its staff. Since the beginning of the year, Crunchbase estimates some 32,000 workers in the tech industry have lost their jobs. Unemployment claims across the U.S. economy are at an eight-year high.
Hiring freezes and layoffs have impacted just about every corner of the tech industry, from young Web3 hopefuls to established steaming giants and just about everything in between. Tesla, Netflix, Coinbase, and Robinhood have all announced layoffs in recent months, citing reasons ranging from rising inflation to a disastrous crypto market. There are signs those downturns are heading for Big Tech giants as well.
Here are some of the largest tech layoffs of 2022… so far.
Tesla Laid Off 200 Autopilot Employees
It’s a stressful time at Tesla. The company was already under a federal investigation for crashes linked to its semi-autonomous vehicles, and then its eccentric CEO decided, seemingly out of nowhere, that we wanted to aquire Twitter. That impulse buy attempt ended up driving Tesla’s stock price down.
In the middle of all that drama, the company announced it would move to axe 200 of its 350 employees working on Autopilot, the seeming crown jewel of Tesla that Musk has said is critical to the company’s long-term growth. Tesla completely shut an entire San Mateo, California office in the process. The majority of these employees were reportedly low-wage workers working to analyse Autopilot’s massive collection of real-time driving data through data labelling and other techniques.
TikTok Cuts U.S. Workforce
TikTok has emerged as one of the biggest winners of Facebook’s continuous spiral toward social media hell and has overall managed to stave off some of the biggest pains felt by the tech industry’s downturn. That doesn’t make it immune to layoffs though.
Last month, Wired cited five sources who claimed TikTok had begun laying off an unspecified amount of workers in its U.S. office. Workers in the company’s EU and U.K divisions were also reportedly told to brace for similar actions. As part of the alleged larger restructuring, TikTok reportedly put previous plans to expand some teams on hold.
In a statement sent to Wired, a TikTok spokesperson said there are some roles in the company that have “shifted in focus,” but disputed the characterization of the moves as a “company-wide restructure.”
Coinbase Axed Over 1,000 Workers
Coinbase was one of dozens of crypto companies blindsided in recent months by the cryptocurrency collapse. Though Coinbase hasn’t had to file for bankruptcy, like other crypto firms, it has had to significantly lighten its staff load. Back in June, Coinbase laid off 18% of its total staff, around 1,100 workers, citing a looming recession, the crypto winter, and its own overly optimistic growth projections.
“Our employee costs are too high to effectively manage this uncertain market,” CEO Brian Armstrong said at the time. “The actions we are taking today will allow us to more confidently manage through this period even if it is severely prolonged.”
Netflix Laid Off 450 Employees in Two Months
For several years, Netflix, the company that first cracked the television streaming code, was an unstoppable growth machine. That was, of course, before Dinsey+, HBO Max, Apple TV, Hulu, and the seemingly a trillion other “[insert old media corpse] Plus” competitors joined the field. Netflix’s subscriber count has slowed down, and its business has taken a hit. The company announced the inevitable in May, revealing it would move to cut 150 employees or roughly 1.3% of its workforce.
Things have only gotten worse since then. About a month after Netflix’s initial layoffs the company announced another set of cuts, this time impacting 300 employees, or 4% of the company’s total workforce, according to The Guardian. Now, in a desperate effort to stop the bleeding of its more than 200,000 dearly departed subscribers, Netflix is apparently considering welcoming advertising to its platform. Welcome back to the early 2000s y’all.
Twitter Cut 30% of its Talent Acquisition Team
Twitter employees, already drained from dealing with the on again, off again, attempts by the world’s richest person to acquire the company (and tank Twitter’s stock in the process) were faced with yet another stress point last month. In early June, the company moved to lay off around 30% of its talent acquisition team. Twitter hinted at the potential for rough water earlier in the year when it froze most hirings and backfills.
Shopify Laid Off 10% of its Workforce
Though the world’s leading online retailer, Amazon, has so far managed to weather the tech downturn relatively well, the same can’t necessarily be said for its smaller competitor, Shopify. In late July, Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke announced the company would lay off 10% of its staff, roughly 1,000 workers, following a period of explosive pandemic growth.
Shopify benefited immensely from a sudden shift towards ecommercce propelled by covid lockdowns and evolving shopping patterns. Like many companies, Shopify went on a hiring spree, expecting that level of ecommerce to outlive the pandemic. That’s not exactly playing out the way Shopify expected.
“Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong,” Lütke wrote. “Now, we have to adjust. As a consequence, we have to say goodbye to some of you today and I’m deeply sorry for that.”
Robinhood Cut Nearly 1 in 3 Staff Members
The self-described “democratized finance” app at the centre of last year’s so-called meme stock frenzy has struggled to recover ever since its disastrous IPO, which Bloomberg estimated was among the worst debut for any company of its size. Now, in 2022 the company’s employees, whom executives refer to as “Robinhooders,” are feeling the pain.
In late April, CEO and founder Vlad Tenev announced the company would cut around 9% of its workforce following a period of “hyper-growth,” in 2020 and 2021. It turns out those cuts were a sign of what was to come. In the first week of August, Tenev wrote another blog post, this time announcing a much larger layoff affecting 23% of the workforce. The dramatic cuts came just hours after the New York State Department of Financial Services announced it had fined the company’s cryptocurrency division for “significant anti-money-laundering, cybersecurity, and consumer protection violations.”
Lyft Cuts Around 60 Corporate Employee
Though the vast majority of Lyft’s drivers come and go, layoffs have still managed to touch the company’s corporate seats. Last month, Lyft said it would lay off around 60 jobs in its rental division and will reportedly discontinue service where it offers long-term car rental, Reuters reported.
Vimeo Cuts 6% of Its Workforce
Video hosting giant Vimeo added its name to the tech layoff dogpile in mid-July with its CEO Anjali Sud announcing the company had moved to cut 6% of its total workforce. In a blog post, Sud cited “challenging economic conditions,” that were expected for the foreseeable future as the main reason for the layoffs. The cuts came after months of slowed hiring at the company.
“While we’ve intentionally taken action across other expense areas first, it’s become clear that we also have to look at our largest area of investment, our team,” Sud wrote.
OnlyFans Cuts an Unspecified Number of Employees
At the start of August OnlyFans, the service largely responsible for an upsurge in paid subscriptions for sexual content, said it would lay off an unspecified number of employees citing a move to “reshape certain teams,” per Insider. The layoffs came as somewhat of a surprise, considering a company executive, just weeks earlier, said the company wasn’t experiencing the type of subscriber slowdown from giants like Netflix.
The move comes after the company tried and failed last year to pivot away from sexually explicit content. That attempted move was met with criticism from OnlyFans content creators, who felt they were being burned by a company they’d played a critical role in making relevant and profitable.
Cameo Laid Off a Quarter of Its Staff
Oh, Cameo. When your friend’s birthday is moments away and you still haven’t come up with a gift, where else can you go to pay for a 30-second shout-out from a D-list celebrity? Unfortunately, it seems like that business model might not have a terribly long shelf life.
Earlier this year, the company, whose lineup has at times influenced Snoop Dog, Caitlyn Jenner, and even Donald Trump Jr, announced it would lay off around a quarter of its staff. The layoffs, which CEO Steven Galanis described as a “course correction,” came after the company went on a bit of a hiring spree to meet increased demand during the pandemic. Like so many other companies on this list though, that brief pandemic era bump turned out to be short-lived.
Soundcloud Is Laying Off Up to 20% of Staff
While the biggest names in music streaming have so far managed to avoid layoffs, the same cannot be said for the smaller, but comparatively more artist-friendly platform SoundCloud. On Wednesday, according to Billboard, CEO Michael Weissman emailed staff alerting them of layoffs impacting up to 20% of the company. A rep for the company reportedly confirmed the cuts and said the company is undergoing a “significant” transformation.
“Today’s change positions SoundCloud for the long run and puts us on a path to sustained profitability,” Weissman wrote in his email to staff. “We have already begun to make prudent financial decisions across the company, and that now extends to a reduction to our team.”
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