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The tech industry’s moment of reckoning: layoffs and hiring freezes

Over the past few months, the economy has started to turn, and tech workers are being hit hard. Meta, Twitter, and more have fired thousands, and others are slowing or freezing hiring.

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Over the last year, it feels like every day, we’ve heard the news of mass layoffs and hiring freezes from big tech companies that were formerly famous for having deep pockets and near-endless amenities for workers.

Now, it’s clear that the industry as a whole is tightening its belt, leaving hundreds of thousands of employees out of work — and more wondering if they’ll have a job within the next few months or searching for jobs in an industry that no longer has a spot for them. It’s gotten to the point where one tech recruiting site created an interactive tool to track the layoffs across established companies and startups.

To open 2023, Amazon announced layoffs of mostly corporate employees will trim 18,000 workers from the roster, the biggest reduction — in raw numbers, despite Amazon’s 1.5 million-strong workforce — yet. Slightly smaller raw numbers popped up at Google, with 12,000 layoffs, and Microsoft, with 10,000.

Elizabeth Lopatto spoke to experts to try and answer the question of why so many layoffs are happening right now, despite tech companies continuing to register sizable profits. One reason is that “investors have changed how they’re evaluating companies,” even if there’s a lack of evidence that the layoffs can help solve any of the problems they may have.

Twitter’s layoffs happened because Elon Musk bought the company and took it private, and Meta’s CEO claims its 13 percent reduction in staff is a course correction after the company went on a hiring spree during the online retail boom that came out of the pandemic. Companies that rely on advertising, like Meta and Snap, have also been hit hard by privacy policy changes from Apple.

Meanwhile, the iPhone maker is blaming the economy for its own hiring slowdown, despite being one of the few companies still announcing record-breaking earnings and beating estimates.

We’ll probably see even more reasons for layoffs or freezes as other companies announce their own. Stay tuned to this page for the latest on big tech companies’ cost-cutting measures and how they affect current and former employees.

Here’s all our coverage of the recent outbreak of layoffs from big tech, auto, crypto, and more: