Salesforce to layoff about 10% of staff in latest round of job cuts in tech industry

ByCatherine Thorbecke, CNN, CNNWire
Thursday, January 5, 2023
Salesforce to layoff about 10% of staff
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Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chair and co-CEO, announced in a later to employees the company would be laying off 10% of its workforce.

Salesforce said Wednesday that it will cut approximately 10% of its workforce and reduce its real estate footprint, making it the latest tech company to slash expenses as broader economic uncertainty continues to hit Silicon Valley particularly hard.

In a letter to employees announcing the job cuts, Marc Benioff, Salesforce's chair and co-CEO, admitted to growing headcount too much earlier in the pandemic and said most of the job cuts will take place over the coming weeks.

"I've been thinking a lot about how we came to this moment," Benioff wrote. "As our revenue accelerated through the pandemic, we hired too many people leading into this economic downturn we're now facing, and I take responsibility for that."

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As of January 2022, Salesforce reported a headcount of 73,541 global employees.

The tech sector, which was initially buoyed by a sudden and intense pandemic-fueled shift to online services, has since had to confront consumers returning to their offline lives. At the same time, the industry has been pummeled by a seemingly perfect storm of economic factors over the past year, including rising interest rates, looming recession fears and consumers and businesses rethinking expenses.

Like Benioff, a number of other tech founders and CEOs have since admitted they failed to accurately gauge pandemic demand. As a result, tech firms including Amazon and Meta have announced company-wide layoffs.

Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in investor note Wednesday that the cloud-computing giant "clearly is seeing headwinds in the field and thus is trying to quickly adjust to a softening demand environment." The analyst added that the company "clearly overbuilt out its organization over the past few years along with the rest of the tech sector."

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Shares of Salesforce were up more than 3% in early trading Wednesday following the announcement.

Like other tech companies, Salesforce's stock suffered steep declines last year. Against that backdrop, Salesforce made a significant change to its C-Suite: co-CEO and Vice Chair Bret Taylor said he would step down from his roles at the company at the end of January.

In his letter Wednesday, Benioff said impacted employees in the United States will "receive a minimum of nearly five months of pay, health insurance, career resources, and other benefits to help with their transition." Those outside the United States "will receive a similar level of support," Benioff wrote.

"The employees being affected aren't just colleagues," Benioff said. "They're friends. They're family. Please reach out to them. Offer the compassion and love they and their families deserve and need now more than ever. And most of all, please lean on your leadership, including me, as we work through this difficult time together."

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