The recent Microsoft layoffs, 18K in all and the largest in company history, has got a lot of media attention. I often wonder about the value of something like this. It may fatten up the bottom line, but will it do so enough to justify the bad press? In any big organisation there’s a lot of turnover, and you can eliminate a lot of positions just through a hiring freeze as people retire and move on to other jobs.
And yet, you have to put them in perspective. Sony (for example) has laid off thousands of people several times in dribs and drabs, is that any better or worse than one big layoff? And Nokia had laid off thousands, and likely would have continued to if they hadn’t been purchased by Microsoft. And a lot of the layoffs are on the non-smartphone side of the business, where they’re going to continue offering devices but don’t need so many people to do so much future development.
The part that bewilders me is the cancelling of the Xbox Entertainment Studios that had been doing Every Street Unlimited, the documentary about the unearthing of E.T. The Extraterrestrial, the forthcoming Halo TV show, etc. It seems to me that that particular initiative was timely and very much on trend with the direction that things are going (unique streaming content, that’s either behind a pay wall or advertising supported). Perhaps Every Street Unlimited didn’t do well, perhaps it was just a matter of the new CEO of Microsoft simply wanting to do fewer things and do them better. But of all the things that happened, that’s the one that surprises me most.