Rumors have been circling for a while now that tough times at amazon would soon result in layoff with the devices division that is responsible for producing Alexa devices, among other pieces of Amazon hardware, heading for the chopping block. Unfortunately for workers in the affected divisions, it looks as though those rumors were true as reports are coming out that Amazon has begun moving through the severance processes that will see thousands of workers lose their jobs.
Furthermore, with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, there can hardly be a worse time for anybody to lose their job. Incredibly, the timing also couldn’t be starker due to the fact that Amazon is about to launch its newly extended Black Friday week, which will see the company pushing special deals in a bid to draw as much cash from customers even as they are feeling the bite from the same economic factors that have been cutting into big tech companies over the last few weeks and months.
Big tech is feeling the pinch of broader economic factors
As mentioned above, Amazon is not the only big tech company resorting to layoffs at the moment. Meta has just cut 13% of its workforce, Twitter has cut 50% of its workforce with more likely on the way out, Snapchat’s parent company Snap has cut 20% of its workforce, and the list could go on. As we have previously explored, however, all of this is occurring in the context of a broader tech sector that is actually growing and hiring more workers than ever before.
Despite the broader outlook for tech, with digital services increasingly reaching out through all aspects of our modern lives, the hard times hitting some of tech’s biggest companies come following a decade of constant growth. This growth means that they have continuously expanded out into offering new services and products that go beyond their base unique selling points (USPs). It cannot be seen as a mere coincidence that it is Amazon’s devices division that is bearing the brunt of the cuts when Meta also laid off workers working on its devices just last week. As we move into uncertain economic times these over-extended and not-so-profitable divisions look like expensive luxuries on a company’s balance sheet rather than core operations that will secure the company’s future.
If we look at Amazon in particular, we have to acknowledge the fact that we are just coming out of a pandemic that saw people stuck at home. All the big tech companies saw huge increases in profits but being an eCommerce company meant Amazon was able to see massive profits that have been unsustainable in the difficult years that have followed. Unable to maintain high revenue streams means, in the interests of the company’s shareholders, costs need to be cut to maintain profits and as is too often the case it is the workers and their salaries who are being taken off the books.
In real terms, Amazon is expected to cut around 10,000 workers, which comes to about 3% of the entire Amazon workforce. According to The Washington Post, Amazon began the process of contacting affected employees on Tuesday afternoon. In the wake of the move, many Amazon employees then took to LinkedIn to communicate to the world that they were losing their jobs and that they were once again in the job market and looking for work. The following day, Amazon addressed the news that building by publishing an email by the senior vice president of the devices and services division, Dave Limp, which said:
“… we’ve been working over the last few months to further prioritize what matters most to our customers and the business […] After a deep set of reviews, we recently decided to consolidate some teams and programs.”
If the cuts at Amazon go ahead as expected, they will represent the largest round of layoffs in the company’s history, which has been aggressively expanding the services and products it offers as well as its workforce for the last decade.
Is extending Black Friday appropriate?
So, with all this going on then, is it appropriate for Amazon to extend Black Friday from a single day to a full week’s worth of so-called special offers and deals? Normally, a week of Fridays would sound like an absolute treat, but it has to be said that in the current climate, extending an already egregious period of heavily incentivized overspending and consumption leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There are literally thousands of workers across the tech sector that have lost their jobs in the run-up to Christmas because of abstract and opaque reasons such as ‘broader macroeconomic dynamics’, ‘difficult economic headwinds’, ‘rising inflation’, and a ‘looming recession’. These people are not losing their jobs because they weren’t working hard enough or weren’t good at their jobs and in fact all of those things affecting these big tech companies are affecting normal people as well.