The bad news for HTC keeps rolling in. The Verge learned today that the company has laid off about thirty employees and contractors out of its HTC America division. That division has a total of around 150 employees and contractors, so the total amounts to about twenty percent of the workforce. As often happens, the employees and contractors were let go at the end of the day on Friday and sources tell The Verge that the layoffs affected multiple departments. The company confirmed the layoffs — though not the exact number — in a statement to The Verge. The statement is rather long, and it is as upbeat as it is defensive, characterizing the "reduction in force" as a "decisive action ... to streamline and optimize our organization and improve efficiencies after several years of aggressive growth."
"We must show leadership and take responsibility in getting our house in order."
In a letter about the layoffs obtained by The Verge, President of HTC Americas, Jason Mackenzie, told his team that it was "the most difficult day of my HTC career" and that "the stark reality is that our business results are not where we want them to be." He also promised that HTC "would treat the impacted employees with the respect they deserved and provide them with resources to help bridge them to their next opportunity." Mackenzie said the layoffs were "part of a broader plan to simplify our organization, sharpen our teams focus, improve our speed in decision-making, and drive greater empowerment through our team, while reducing our overall cost structure."
HTC has had a very difficult time turning itself around. Despite positive reception for its flagship HTC One smartphone and a flashy new advertising campaign featuring Robert Downey, Jr., the company has watched profits decline. Insiders have placed much of the blame squarely on CEO Peter Chou, telling Reuters that his penchant for quick decision making "used to be a strength, and now is becoming a weak point as they don't have a clear direction going forward." Prior to this round of layoffs, the company had already faced departures from key, high-profile HTC employees. Although the level of drama has been quite high for the company, the actual products it has been putting out still have largely been well-received —whether it can keep that up as it continues to lose employees remains to be seen.
HTC's full statement is below:
Today's reduction in force is a decisive action by HTC Corp (US) to streamline and optimize our organization and improve efficiencies after several years of aggressive growth. Realigning its human resources against key strategic initiatives will help HTC more effectively advance into a new stage of growth and innovation. This is a hard decision that has direct impact on people who have contributed to the growth HTC has experienced the past several years. However, to achieve our long-term goals as a business and return maximum value to our shareholders, this is a necessary step to drive ongoing innovation, ensure our ability to create strong products like the HTC One, and forge strong customer relationships that solidify our future. HTC is proud of its employees and has a track record of hiring the best and brightest; we continue to hire in strategic areas and encourage impacted employees to apply for open positions that are a fit for their skills.