🔒 Apple pause, Lyft layoffs herald new phase of tech austerity

By Nick Turner

(Bloomberg) — Tech companies are once again tapping the brakes on hiring as they contend with sluggish consumer spending, higher interest rates and the impact of a strong dollar overseas. 

Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that it would pause adding new corporate workers, citing an “uncertain” economy and its hiring boom in recent years. Lyft Inc., the ride-hailing company, is going further: It will eliminate 13% of staff, or around 683 people.

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Twitter Inc.’s cutbacks are under particular scrutiny as new owner Elon Musk shakes up the social-networking business and pares roughly half its jobs.

Tech companies made moves earlier this year to rein in costs, with many of the industry’s biggest firms freezing hiring or cutting some departments. Even Apple Inc., which has outperformed most of its peers this year, is slowing spending and has paused much of its hiring. But some tech giants are finding that they now need to take more dramatic steps to trim their expenses.

More broadly, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Thursday that job-cut announcements were up 48% year-over-year in October, with more layoffs “on the way.” A federal jobs report on Friday will give a clearer picture of US hiring trends. Even with the austerity, economists expect a net gain of 200,000 for non-farm payrolls.

Here are some of the latest companies to tighten their belts:

Amazon

The e-commerce titan halted “new incremental” hiring across its corporate workforce — a decision Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy and his team made this week. “We anticipate keeping this pause in place for the next few months, and will continue to monitor what we’re seeing in the economy and the business to adjust as we think makes sense,” according to Beth Galetti, Amazon’s top human resources executive. 

Prime trailers at an Amazon delivery station in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Friday, June 4, 2021. Amazon.com Inc. is ceding its human-resources operation to machines, using software not only to manage workers in its warehouses but to oversee contract drivers, independent delivery companies and even the performance of its office workers.

Apple 

The iPhone maker has paused hiring for many jobs outside of research and development, an escalation of an existing plan to reduce budgets heading into next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The break generally doesn’t apply to teams working on future devices and long-term initiatives, but it affects some corporate functions and standard hardware and software engineering roles.

Chime

The digital-banking startup Chime Financial Inc. is cutting 12% of its staff, or 160 people. A spokesperson said the company remains well-capitalized and the move will position it for “sustained success.”

Dapper Labs

Dapper Labs Inc. founder and CEO Roham Gharegozlou said in a letter to employees Wednesday that the company had laid off 22% of its staff. He cited macroeconomic conditions and operational challenges stemming from the company’s rapid growth. Dapper Labs created the NBA Top Shot marketplace for nonfungible tokens, a digital asset class that has seen a steep drop in demand since the crypto market downturn.

Digital Currency Group

Cryptocurrency conglomerate Digital Currency Group embarked on a restructuring last month that saw about 10 employees exit the company. As part of the shake-up, Mark Murphy was promoted to president from chief operating officer.

Galaxy Digital

Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd., the crypto financial services firm founded by billionaire Michael Novogratz, is considering eliminating as much as 20% of its workforce. The plan may still be changed and the final number could be in a range of 15% to 20%, according to people familiar with the matter. Galaxy’s shares have plummeted 70% this year, part of a rout for cryptocurrencies.

Intel

Intel Corp. is cutting jobs and slowing spending on new plants in an effort to save $3 billion next year, the chipmaker said last week. The hope is to save as much as $10 billion by 2025, a plan that went over well with investors, who sent the shares up more than 10% on Oct. 28. Bloomberg News reported earlier that the headcount reduction could number in the thousands. 

Lyft

Lyft’s cost-saving efforts include divesting its vehicle service business. The company, which is preparing to report third-quarter results on Monday, had already said it would freeze hiring in the US until at least next year. It’s now facing even stiffer headwinds. 

People wearing protective face coverings walk past a Lyft Inc. drivers’ lounge in Oakland, California, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Lyft Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on February 9.

“We are not immune to the realities of inflation and a slowing economy,” co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green said in a memo. “We need 2023 to be a period where we can better execute without having to change plans in response to external events — and the tough reality is that today’s actions set us up to do that.”

Opendoor

Opendoor Technologies Inc. said this week that it’s laying off about 550 employees — roughly 18% of its headcount. The company, which practices a data-driven spin on home-flipping called iBuying, is coping with slowing housing demand because of higher mortgage rates. The iBuying model relies on acquiring homes, making some repairs and then selling the properties, often in a short period of time.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm Inc. said Wednesday that it’s frozen hiring in response to a faster-than-feared decline in demand for phones, which use its chips. It now expects smartphone shipments to decline in the double-digit percent range this year, worse than the outlook it gave just three months earlier.

Seagate

Seagate Technology Holdings Plc, the biggest maker of computer hard drives, said last week that it’s paring about 3,000 jobs. Computer suppliers, including Seagate and Intel, have been hard hit by a slowdown in hardware spending. Customers are sitting on a pile of extra inventory, hurting orders and weighing on Seagate’s financial performance, CEO Dave Mosley said. That necessitated cuts. “We have taken quick and decisive actions to respond to current market conditions and enhance long-term profitability,” he said.

Stripe

Payments company Stripe Inc., one of the world’s most valuable startups, is cutting more than 1,000 jobs. The 14% staff reduction will return its headcount to almost 7,000 — its total in February. Co-founders Patrick and John Collison told staff that they need to trim expenses more broadly as they prepare for “leaner times.”

Twitter

The upheaval at Twitter has more to do with its recent buyout — and the accompanying debt — than economic concerns. But the company is facing the deepest cuts of its peers right now. Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion last month, plans to eliminate about 3,700 jobs, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

The new owner plans to inform affected staffers Friday, said the people. Musk also intends to reverse the company’s work-from-anywhere policy, asking remaining employees to report to offices.

Upstart

Upstart Holdings Inc., an online lending platform, said in a regulatory filing this week it cut 140 hourly employees “given the challenging economy and reduction in the volume of loans on our platform.”

–With assistance from Anna Irrera, Jenny Surane, Vildana Hajric, Hannah Miller, Muyao Shen, Katie Greifeld, Ian King, Edward Harrison, Matt Day, Ed Ludlow, Kurt Wagner, Yueqi Yang, Mark Gurman and Patrick Clark.

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