Microsoft has announced it will be letting go of 276 Washington-based workers, as the software company restructures parts of its business just 11 days into its new financial year.
These recent cuts, which have affected customer service, sales, and support roles, build on the 10,000 global layoffs it announced on January 18 as the company continues to offset mammoth hiring efforts that took place throughout Covid-19.
While the US employment rate remains stable at large, Microsoft's latest dismissals are the latest in a long line of layoffs to plague the tech sector in 2023. Here's what we know so far.
Microsoft Announces Another Round of Layoffs
According to an internal announcement Microsoft released on Monday morning, the software provider and OpenAI partner has announced another round of layoffs at the start of their financial year, as part of a strategic restructuring effort.
While the big tech company hasn't announced the number of cuts publically, a filing with Washington state's Employment Security Department revealed that 276 Seattle-based workers have been affected in total.
Unlike previous layoffs, which have affected a broad range of divisions including marketing and the Internet of Things (IoT), these cuts have exclusively targeted customer service, support, and sales roles.
“We will continue to prioritize and invest in strategic growth areas for our future and in support of our customers and partners.” – Microsoft spokesperson
A Microsoft spokesperson said that these “organizational and workforce adjustments” are a necessary part of running their business, but explain that they will continue to invest in “high growth areas” of the business.
Microsoft Doubles Down on AI Investment
This isn't an uncommon strategy for Microsoft. When the Washington-based company announced it would be cutting 10,000 roles in January 2023 — equating to around 5% of its total workforce — its CEO Satya Nadella claimed they would continue hiring in “strategic areas”.
These hiring efforts appear to be largely focused on AI, as the tech giant enters a new phase of its partnership with ChatGPT owner OpenAI, and continues to ramp up its responsible AI program, which is part of its concerted effort to address the ethical implications of AI.
“Moving forward, we know we need to invest even more in our responsible AI ecosystem by hiring new and diverse talent, assigning additional talent to focus on responsible AI full time, and upskilling more people throughout the company.” – Natasha Crampton, Chief Responsible AI Officer at Microsoft
In a blog post released in May, Microsoft's Chief Responsible AI Officer Natasha Crampton announced that investing in teams is necessary for the program to succeed — alongside building governance models and establishing committed leadership for responsible AI.
However, despite Crampton's desire to hire “new and diverse talent” to support Microsofts burgeoning “AI ecosystem”, no official hiring timeline has been announced.