Friday, May 24, 2024

Wall Street Journal Faces Another Round of Layoffs, Impacting Video and Social Media Teams

The Wall Street Journal experienced another round of layoffs on Wednesday, primarily affecting employees in the video and social media departments, according to multiple sources.

At least 11 employees were affected, including four producers on the visuals desk, two social media editors, two video journalists, a senior video journalist, a video producer, and one reporter. Tim Martell, the executive director of IAPE 1096, the union representing Dow Jones publications, confirmed the layoffs.

Among those laid off were staffers participating in the Journal’s Journalists as Creators program, a collaboration with Google aimed at developing YouTube channels featuring individual journalists and specific subjects. Staffers were informed that the program’s agreement was not renewed, leading to the cessation of funding for those positions.

The Wall Street Journal declined to comment on the layoffs, while Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Under the editorial leadership of Emma Tucker, who assumed the role of editor-in-chief last year, the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper has undergone several rounds of cuts, often implemented incrementally. Earlier in February, nearly 20 staffers were let go from its Washington, D.C. bureau as part of a broader newsroom restructuring, which included the departure of Pulitzer Prize winner Brody Mullins.

In recent months, the newspaper has also seen layoffs among its foreign correspondents and standards and ethics editors, with notable departures such as veteran editor Christine Glancey and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Dion Nissenbaum, who covered the Middle East.

Tucker’s tenure has been marked by a content review process, resulting in significant editorial changes, including the departure or reassignment of top editors. Notably, former Washington bureau chief Paul Beckett transitioned to a new role focused on facilitating the removal of reporter Evan Gershkovich from Russia.

USAA Layoffs: 220 Employees Affected, Totaling 1,200 Job Cuts in Two Years

USAA, the San Antonio-based insurance and financial services company, has initiated another round of layoffs, affecting 220 employees. This marks at least the sixth round of job cuts within the past two years.

The company, which boasts a workforce of over 37,000 employees nationwide, did not specify the departments impacted by the recent layoffs. Similarly, details regarding the distribution of affected employees, particularly in San Antonio, where USAA stands as one of the largest employers with 19,000 employees, were not disclosed.

Affected employees, including those in remote and in-office positions, were notified of the layoffs this week. USAA emphasized that these adjustments are necessary to ensure the company’s operational efficiency and continued provision of exceptional service to its members.

“While USAA continues to hire, including approximately 2,900 jobs filled so far this year, this reprioritization is necessary due to changing business needs,” stated spokesperson Roger Wildermuth. He emphasized that affected employees are treated with care and compassion and provided with assistance to explore new roles both within and outside the organization.

USAA’s recent layoffs come amidst economic concerns, including the company’s first annual loss in a century in 2022, attributed to various factors such as inflation, increased claims, declining investment returns, and natural disasters. The company has also been navigating the transition back to office work following pandemic lockdowns.

Over the past two years, USAA has reduced its workforce by approximately 1,200 jobs, spanning various departments including mortgage, information technology, human resources, business continuation, and client advising. Despite these layoffs, USAA’s total workforce in the U.S. has remained relatively stable, as the company has continued to hire.

In response to industry trends and competition for talent, USAA has enhanced its employee benefits, including tuition-free education options and expanded access to family members. The company has also introduced a 401(k) match program for student loan payments.

USAA’s layoffs reflect broader trends in the insurance industry, with several companies implementing cost-cutting measures and restructuring efforts. As companies adapt to hybrid and remote work models accelerated by the pandemic, office space utilization has also undergone significant changes, exemplified by USAA’s relocation from downtown offices to its Northwest Side headquarters.

Best Buy Shifts Towards AI, Lays Off Geek Squad and Phone Support Workers

Best Buy recently implemented layoffs affecting Geek Squad field agents, home-theater repair technicians, and phone support specialists. Current and former employees revealed this shift, indicating that it reflects Best Buy’s strategic direction in adapting to evolving customer needs and technological advancements.

While Best Buy declined to specify the exact number of workforce reductions, it assured affected and eligible employees of severance packages. Some employees may also have the opportunity to transfer or reapply for positions within the company.

These layoffs represent the latest in a series of restructuring efforts aimed at optimizing operations and addressing changes in market demand. Best Buy’s CEO, Corie Barry, previously outlined a restructuring plan, including terminations, to stabilize the company amidst declining sales. These measures are expected to occur primarily in the first half of 2024 across various departments.

In response to industry dynamics and evolving consumer expectations, Best Buy emphasized the need to reallocate resources strategically. The company aims to enhance customer experiences while driving efficiency by leveraging technology and redirecting resources to key strategic areas.

One notable initiative includes the introduction of artificial intelligent virtual assistants, developed in partnership with Google and Accenture. These assistants will facilitate order deliveries, manage membership accounts, and provide troubleshooting support, thereby reducing the reliance on in-home repair visits. Additionally, they will offer real-time recommendations to employees in call centers and assist in-store staff in providing product information to customers.

Best Buy’s commitment to enhancing customer experiences extends beyond immediate support to long-term initiatives such as expanding Geek Squad-as-a-service and integrating Geek Squad agents into its Best Buy Health business. These strategic moves align with the company’s vision to leverage technology and personalized services to meet evolving customer needs.

Despite the restructuring efforts, Best Buy remains focused on its workforce’s well-being, evidenced by the provision of severance packages and ongoing support for affected employees. As the company continues to navigate industry shifts, it remains committed to driving innovation and delivering value to customers while ensuring the long-term sustainability of its business model.

Bolt.Earth Layoffs: Restructuring Results in Employee Reduction and Closure of Business Verticals

Bolt.Earth, the Bengaluru-based electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure provider, has undergone another round of restructuring, resulting in employee layoffs and the closure of two business verticals.

Sources familiar with the matter informed Inc42 that Bolt.Earth initiated this second restructuring within four months due to a cash crunch stemming from the startup’s inability to secure fresh funding. The layoffs are estimated to affect around 70-100 employees, roughly 40%-60% of the workforce.

Although Bolt.Earth confirmed the layoffs, it dismissed claims of such magnitude, describing them as “highly exaggerated.” The startup stated that the workforce reduction was part of a strategic realignment aimed at intensifying focus on its core business, specifically the charging network.

Initially founded in 2017 by Jyotiranjan Harichandan and Mohit Yadav, Bolt.Earth provides electric vehicle charging solutions across various sectors. The company’s product categories included an Operating System (OS) for electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and fleet management system. However, sources revealed that Bolt.Earth has ceased operations in the OS and fleet management system verticals.

The layoffs reportedly impacted several teams, notably product, marketing, and technology, with the design team bearing the brunt of dissolution. However, Bolt.Earth clarified that only the product and technology teams associated with the OS and fleet management system segments were affected.

As part of the severance package, impacted employees are being offered 1-2 months of severance pay. This recent downsizing follows a previous layoff of around 15-20% of the workforce, primarily in the OS team, attributed to uncertainties surrounding government schemes.

Despite raising $20 million in funding last October, Bolt.Earth has faced delays in announcing the round. Cofounders Harichandan and Yadav described this delay as a “strategic decision” but assured ongoing discussions with potential investors.

In terms of financial performance, Bolt.Earth’s parent entity, Revos Auto Tech Pte. Ltd, reported a significant increase in operating revenue for FY23 but also incurred higher losses compared to the previous year. Specific financial figures for FY24 were not disclosed, although the company claimed robust revenue growth during the year.

Stellantis Layoffs: 400 Salaried Workers Affected Amid Electric Vehicle Transition

Stellantis, the renowned Jeep maker resulting from the merger of PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, has announced the layoff of approximately 400 white-collar employees in the United States. The decision comes amidst the automotive industry’s pivotal shift from traditional combustion engines to electric vehicles.

Primarily impacting roles in engineering, technology, and software at the Auburn Hills headquarters and technical center in Michigan, the layoffs signify a strategic move to navigate the uncertainties surrounding the electric vehicle transition. Employees received notifications starting Friday morning, reflecting the company’s commitment to optimizing its cost structure amid heightened competitive pressures.

Stellantis emphasized its dedication to efficiency enhancement and resource alignment in response to unprecedented challenges in the global auto industry. Effective March 31, the layoffs represent approximately 2% of Stellantis’ U.S. workforce in critical areas such as engineering, technology, and software. Affected workers will receive separation packages and transition assistance as part of the company’s support measures.

Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO, reiterated the significant cost disparity between electric vehicles and their gasoline counterparts, underscoring the necessity to reduce costs to ensure the affordability of EVs for the mass market. Despite significant strides in expanding the company’s electric vehicle portfolio, including plans to launch 18 new EV models this year, Tavares stressed the ongoing need to address pricing competitiveness, particularly in comparison to Chinese manufacturers.

The announcement of workforce reductions follows similar initiatives by crosstown rivals Ford and General Motors, who have also implemented layoffs in response to the electric vehicle transition. Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, cited the necessity of aligning workforce skills with the company’s transition from internal combustion to battery-powered vehicles, leading to the release of approximately 4,000 full-time and contract workers in 2022. Similarly, General Motors saw around 5,000 salaried workers, particularly in engineering, opting for early retirement and buyout offers last spring.

In navigating the evolving automotive landscape, Stellantis remains focused on innovation and cost optimization to maintain its competitive edge while embracing the transformative potential of electric vehicles.

UT Dallas Layoffs: Cuts 20 staff, closes office to comply with DEI ban

The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has laid off approximately 20 employees and is closing its Office of Campus Resources and Support in compliance with the state’s ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This decision comes following the enactment of SB 17, which prohibits public colleges and universities from maintaining DEI offices and conducting related activities.

UTD President Richard Benson announced in an email to the community that the layoffs and closure would take effect on April 30. The move is seen as a response to the legislation that prohibits DEI activities and programs at public educational institutions.

Similar actions have been taken by other Texas universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, which recently laid off around 60 employees due to the DEI ban.

The decision has been met with criticism from some groups, who argue that the layoffs are discriminatory against employees previously involved in DEI initiatives. Despite reassigned positions, these employees were affected by the layoffs, sparking concerns about potential violations of their rights.

The legislation, SB 17, prohibits DEI-related offices, staff, training, and programs unless explicitly approved by the institution’s general counsel and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

This move reflects a broader trend across the United States, where numerous states have introduced bills aimed at banning DEI initiatives, with some already being enacted into law.

Indian Edtech startup Scaler lays off 150 employees

Scaler, an edtech company, has initiated layoffs affecting approximately 150 employees, representing 10% of its workforce. The affected employees are primarily from the marketing, sales, and other departments.

As of now, Scaler has a total workforce of around 1,500 employees, out of which 1,000 are full-time staffers, and the rest include consultants, contractual employees, and interns. In 2022, the company had reported an expansion of its workforce by over 150%, reaching 2,000 employees compared to 800 employees previously.

Abhimanyu Saxena, Co-Founder of Scaler and InterviewBit, stated that the layoffs are part of a restructuring effort aimed at achieving sustainable growth while ensuring the best learning experience and outcomes for their learners. The company identified certain functions and roles, particularly in marketing and sales, that needed to be restructured or eliminated as part of this process.

Netflix Streamlines Film Division, Lays Off 15 Employees in Restructuring Effort

Netflix, the streaming giant known for its vast library of original content, is undergoing a significant restructuring of its film division, resulting in the departure of approximately 15 employees. This move comes as part of a broader effort to streamline operations and refocus the company’s movie efforts by genre.

Under the leadership of Dan Lin, the newly appointed head of movies, Netflix will organize its film catalog into four distinct categories, each overseen by a dedicated executive. Ori Marmur will lead the action, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi genres, while Kira Goldberg will helm thrillers, dramas, and family films. Niija Kuykendall will be responsible for young adult, faith-based, and holiday movies, with Jason Young taking charge of comedies and romantic comedies.

The restructuring aims to provide greater clarity, accountability, and specialization within the film division. By assigning dedicated teams to each genre, Netflix intends to optimize development, production, and marketing efforts for a more targeted approach to audience engagement and content delivery.

While the reorganization brings opportunities for enhanced focus and synergy between projects, it also comes with some personnel changes. Approximately 15 employees in the film division will be laid off as part of what Netflix describes as a “major restructuring” initiative. These layoffs are intended to align the workforce with the new organizational structure and ensure efficient resource allocation across the company’s movie-making endeavors.

The move reflects Netflix’s ongoing efforts to adapt to evolving market dynamics and economic conditions. With uncertainties surrounding subscriber growth and market competition, the company, like others in the technology and entertainment sectors, is prioritizing cost optimization and operational efficiency.

Netflix’s restructuring follows similar belt-tightening measures seen across the industry, including recent layoffs at Apple and within the gaming sector. As companies navigate shifting landscapes and economic challenges, strategic realignments and workforce adjustments have become increasingly common in pursuit of long-term sustainability and growth.

As Netflix continues to refine its content strategy and adapt to changing consumer preferences, the reorganization of its film division underscores the company’s commitment to innovation and excellence in entertainment delivery.

Taiga Motors Layoffs: Temporarily Pauses Production, Cuts Jobs Amid Lackluster Performance

Taiga Motors, the Quebec-based manufacturer of electric snowmobiles and watercraft, recently released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2023 and the full year, revealing a mixed performance marked by increased revenues but also significant challenges. Despite a year-over-year revenue increase from CAD $3.2 million in 2022 to CAD $16.1 million in 2023, the company faced mounting inventory levels, rising from CAD $20.8 million to CAD $33.2 million over the same period.

These financial indicators, coupled with other factors, have prompted Taiga Motors to implement two temporary measures. Firstly, the company has decided to pause vehicle production, citing the impact of an unseasonably warm winter on snowmobile sales. Secondly, Taiga Motors announced the reduction of 70 jobs within its workforce, primarily affecting employees involved in vehicle manufacturing.

The company disclosed these developments in a statement on its Investor Relations website, where it also noted the decision not to host a conference call to discuss the financial results—a move that has sparked speculation about the anticipation of potential negative reactions to the job cuts.

Furthermore, Taiga Motors opted not to provide forward-looking guidance, production, or sales outlook for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2024, and subsequent periods. This decision, amid a transition period and current operational, market, and financial circumstances, deviates from the standard practice observed in financial reporting.

While the reasons behind these decisions remain undisclosed, observers have noted the rarity of such actions, particularly the absence of forward-looking guidance, in financial reporting practices. The move raises questions about the company’s strategic direction and its ability to navigate challenges and uncertainties effectively.

As Taiga Motors grapples with temporary production pauses, workforce reductions, and market volatility, stakeholders will closely monitor developments to assess the company’s trajectory and future prospects.

Spirit Airlines Layoffs: Implements Cost-Cutting Measures, Delays Aircraft Deliveries, and Furloughs Pilots

Spirit Airlines has taken decisive steps to address financial challenges, reaching an agreement with Airbus to defer all aircraft deliveries scheduled from the second quarter of 2025 through 2026. The low-cost carrier aims to save cash by postponing these deliveries to 2030-2031 due to quality issues with engines from Pratt & Whitney. This move comes as Spirit grapples with existing cash constraints and the need to mitigate operational disruptions caused by grounded A320neo aircraft.

In a bid to improve liquidity, the agreement with Airbus is expected to provide Spirit with approximately $340 million over the next two years, with no alterations to orders slated for delivery during 2027-2029. While this decision may alleviate financial pressures in the short term, it could potentially restrict revenue-generating opportunities for the airline, as noted by industry analysts.

Spirit Airlines, which operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising 205 jets as of December 2023, now anticipates ending 2025 with a total of 219 jets without adding any A320neo aircraft as previously planned. However, the announcement of pilot furloughs has raised concerns among the company’s pilot group, prompting discussions about voluntary measures to mitigate the impact or reduce the number of furloughs.

The Master Executive Council at the Air Line Pilots Association is actively exploring options to address the furloughs, underscoring the collaborative effort between the company and its workforce during this challenging period. As Spirit adjusts its fleet outlook and financial plans, it navigates the broader challenges facing the airline industry, characterized by ongoing operational disruptions and economic uncertainties.

The decision to delay aircraft deliveries and implement pilot furloughs reflects Spirit Airlines’ proactive approach to managing its financial situation and addressing operational challenges. By prioritizing cost-saving measures and adapting its fleet strategy, the company aims to enhance its liquidity and stabilize its operations amidst industry headwinds. Despite the near-term impact of these measures, Spirit’s resilience and adaptability underscore its ability to navigate turbulent times and emerge stronger in the long run.