Uber apparently recently kicked of an internal project to reorganize its engineering teams in order to make them more efficient and coordinated and less duplicative or competitive in their work. It sounds like the prior structure and approach grew partly out of Uber’s aggressively competitive culture and partly out of a lack of proper structure, both of which need fixing if the company is to make the best use of its resources, a consistent theme in its strategy over the last few months. The historical culture around engineering sounds a lot like that which prevailed in the various Google fiefdoms which built hardware for a long time, with little cohesion or coordination between then and teams often working on similar projects without talking to each other. Fixing that should not only make the company more efficient but more effective, and it may also help to fix the diversity and other issues if the team is run as a single unit rather than a disconnected set of engineering clusters.
Microsoft to Lay Off Thousands as Part of Reorganization (Jul 6, 2017)
Microsoft has now confirmed the layoffs which have been rumored for the last week or so, and which are the second part of the announcement made earlier this week regarding the restructuring of the company’s sales organization. CNBC says 3,000 jobs will go, while Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet, who I’m more inclined to trust with this stuff, says only that there will be “several thousand” cuts, with some of those losing jobs found roles elsewhere in the company. This is a relatively small round of layoffs for Microsoft given recent history, as the company’s core workforce excluding LinkedIn has fallen from a peak of around 128,000 in 2014 to just over 110,000 at the end of March already. The layoffs are likely to impact the sales team reorganized earlier this week, reflecting an ongoing shift away from legacy products towards cloud services. Over the last few years, Microsoft has been beefing up its support and consulting staff while reducing its engineering numbers considerably and keeping its overall sales and marketing staff roughly constant at around 50,000. Interestingly, Microsoft’s US/international employee split is now back at nearly 60/40, roughly where it was before the Nokia devices acquisition pushed it to about 48/52. The vast majority of the employees taken on during that period have now either been eliminated or moved to other roles in the company, though Microsoft currently has around 10,000 more core employees (and around 20,000 more including LinkedIn) than it did in mid-2013. Therefore, although this stinks for those being laid off, it’s not an enormous reorg by Microsoft standards, and mostly reflects subtler shifts in the emphasis of the sales and marketing teams and other effects from Microsoft’s ongoing move from legacy to cloud services, in what’s now become almost an annual ritual at the company.