More layoff pain at Microsoft: Github, Xbox, Mixed Reality, and others hit hard
Microsoft announced intentions to shed around 10,000 staff at the start of the year.
Microsoft has started issuing a second round of redundancies as part of its previously announced layoffs, according to those affected.
Reams of posts on LinkedIn and Twitter point to more seemingly arbitrary cuts at the firm, with some truly cruel situations emerging as a result of Microsoft's hunt for bigger shareholder profits. So far, it seems the latest round of cuts are cutting across the entire swath of the company, with teams at Azure, Xbox, and Github hit.
According to one report, Microsoft-owned development hosting platform Github aims to shed 10% of its workforce, which would amount to around 250~ people. Additionally, Microsoft is reportedly shuttering all of its Github offices, moving its remaining staff to a fully-remote working regime to cut costs.
If former Hubbers are starting to announce it I feel fine breaking the news. GitHub is laying off 10% of their employees between today and FY23 (I assume this means by July 1st).They are moving to remote-only and not renewing office leases. https://t.co/f5xYyDb84RFebruary 9, 2023
On the Xbox side, it seems Microsoft is once again cutting into its publishing layer. There are fresh layoffs at the acquired ZeniMax Studios arm of its gaming operation, despite the successful launch of action game Hi-Fi Rush as recently as a couple of weeks ago. Xbox has also cut into some of its teams that handle content partnerships, marketing, and other business-oriented operations.
Another big section of Microsoft that is seeing large cuts is in its "metaversal" departments across Mixed Reality and HoloLens. Microsoft set up a team back in November 2022 specifically tasked to chase industrial applications for the so-called "metaverse" that CEO Satya Nadella was all abuzz about throughout most of last year. The news comes in spite of claims to Bloomberg that Microsoft is "still committed" to HoloLens, which is currently wrapped up in development hell for the U.S. military.
In any case, Microsoft has seemingly cut the team responsible for Mixed Reality in half, shuttering the industrial metaverse applications team in its entirety, affecting hundreds.
Microsoft also seems to be targeting designers, responsible for making Windows and its other applications look prettier. Microsoft has often been criticized for how inconsistent looks when compared to competing operating systems, and the team at Windows has made huge strides to improve Windows 11 to that end. It remains to be seen how these cuts could impact the efforts here.
Microsoft has also cut into the Surface team as part of this latest round of layoffs, shutting the entire team that develops and curates business relationships for its laptop brand. Given the aggressive retreat of the PC market in recent months, this could be indicative of a wider strategy to reduce Surface's footprint, while its OEM partners are struggling to find customers of their own.
Windows Central's take
The layoffs are emblematic of how little big corporations actually care about their employees. Microsoft ballooned during the pandemic to create wealth for its shareholders and take advantage of the mass shift to work-from-home culture, but as that boom time ends, it seems regular employees are here to foot the bill.
As part of this latest round of layoffs, Microsoft has targeted employees seemingly at random, with veterans with decades' worth of experience and legendary creations under their belts. Microsoft has also callously targeted brand-new hires, some of whom were literally still in the process of expensive relocations to Redmond, uprooting their families in the process. CEO Satya Nadella has a reported net worth approaching $1 billion dollars based on the value of the shares in Microsoft he owns, and is among the highest-paid CEOs in tech, with bonuses in the tens of millions. It's hard to fathom, for me, as a regular mortal, what someone could possibly want with such insane amounts of cash — while those who actually build the products you are selling are cast aside with reckless disregard.
Microsoft is heavily investing in AI tools like ChatGPT that are likely to put millions of people out of work and widen wealth inequality according to some analysts. But hey, if it means some shareholders will be able to buy some more golden bidets for their superyachts I guess it's all worth it.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!