Lauren Rosenblatt, The Seattle Times (TNS)
The wave of layoffs at Amazon will hit thousands more people than originally expected.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said Wednesday evening the company planned to eliminate “just over” 18,000 roles.
In November, when news of layoffs first broke, Amazon said the number of impacted roles remained fluid as leaders evaluated each part of the business, part of a months-long cost-cutting review. At the time, it was expected the layoffs would impact about 10,000 people and that the job cuts would extend into the new year.
In a blog post Wednesday, though, Jassy said he “wanted to share the outcome of these further reviews, which is the difficult decision to eliminate additional roles.”
Those cuts will impact several teams, Jassy wrote, but the majority are in Amazon’s human resources and stores division. Stores covers most of Amazon’s consumer business, including online and physical stores, the marketplace for third-party sellers and Prime.
In November, Amazon made cuts to its books and devices departments. Devices includes its voice assistant Alexa, its health device Halo and its home robot Astro, as well as Kindle, smart home products and the Echo speaker. It had also offered buyouts to some employees in its human resources division.
“These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure; however I’m also optimistic that we’ll be inventive, resourceful and scrappy in this time when we’re not hiring expansively and eliminating some roles,” Jassy wrote in the most recent blog post.
“Companies that last a long time go through different phases,” he continued. “They’re not in heavy people expansion mode every year.”
Amazon, like many tech companies, had been hinting at its intent to cut costs and slim down ahead of the job cuts. It froze hiring for corporate roles and ended some experimental projects, including some robots, a virtual travel experience and a video device for kids. It told investors in October it was “taking actions to tighten our belts.”
In November, when investors heard Amazon was working on a cost-cutting review, the company’s stock jumped 12.5% to $96.99 a share, reversing a weekslong slide.
Amazon has been quiet about many details of the layoffs. It’s still not clear how many people it will trim from each division, or how the layoffs will affect its Puget Sound headquarters. A spokesperson declined to share any additional information Wednesday.
In the devices division, some employees lost access to Amazon buildings, laptops and some messaging channels Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving. In its human resources division, some employees marked their last day on Dec. 23.
Amazon has promised to help laid off employees search for new jobs within the company. But, some former employees said, there aren’t many openings.
Those who are impacted by the most recent wave of layoffs will hear from the company starting on Jan. 18, Jassy said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday that the layoffs could hit more than 17,000 people, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Amazon typically waits to communicate about job losses “until we can speak with the people who are directly impacted,” Jassy wrote. “However, because one of our teammates leaked this information externally, we decided it was better to share this news earlier so you can hear the details directly from me.”
But, as the first round of layoffs began in November, Amazon employees set up a Slack channel to commiserate, offer one another tips on finding new roles, and complain about the lack of transparency and communication from upper management.
“How can we expect to be ‘Earth’s Greatest Employer’ if literally everyone in the company is trying to figure out if they will be keeping their jobs?” read one message viewed by The Seattle Times.