The Scoop: New waves of layoffs smash tech, media and beyond

Plus: The FTC investigates AI investments; Boeing Max 9s set to return to the sky. 

Layoffs are smashing white collar workers.

The stock market is booming. By most measures, the economy is going gangbusters. 

But layoffs are hitting largely white-collar workers at major industry players across sectors but hitting especially hard in tech and media. 

Microsoft, which just weeks ago was crowned the most valuable publicly traded company, has laid off 1,900 workers in its Xbox and recently acquired Activision Blizzard, The Verge reported. The cuts of about 8% of the gaming division staff are part of a “more focused strategy across Microsoft Gaming that sets us up for sustainable growth and aligns our talent and resources to our top priorities,” according to an internal memo announcing the layoffs. 



But Microsoft is far from alone in the layoffs. Tencent’s Riot Games recently laid off 11% of its staff, or 530 workers. Salesforce is laying off 700 people. Ebay is cutting 1,000 jobs, or about 9% of its total staff.  

Outside of tech, there has been what Axios calls a “mainstream media bloodbath” that has seen deep cuts at outlets including the LA Times, Insider, Paramount and others. Axios attributes the slashes to a belief that high advertising growth would continue indefinitely. But with advertising expected to grow only in the single digits for the foreseeable future, costs had to be cut, slicing some newsrooms to the bone and beyond. 

Why it matters: If you’re reading this and you’ve been laid off: I’m sorry. It will be OK, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Your job mattered and your talent still matters.  

Beyond the clear human toll layoffs have, these moves have widespread impacts on communicators. For those hiring, the market is now flooded with fresh talent who could be snatched up by your organization. For those remaining at these organizations, the challenges of communicating through the uncertainty of these changes and the fear of those left behind are many. Remember that layoff announcements will almost certainly leak, so get involved with your internal colleagues to craft them with empathy and care so they don’t create a new PR disaster when they’re posted online in full. 

This is also the time to cement the important of communications and PR as a core business function, not a “nice to have” that can be cut when times get though. Fight for your seat at the table.  

Editor’s Top Picks 

  • The FTC opened an inquiry into big tech and AI that could have wide-reaching implications. They’re suspiciously eyeing investments by Amazon, Microsoft and Google into OpenAI and Anthropic, the New York Times reported. It’s a somewhat unusual investigation, since the FTC usually handles mergers and acquisitions rather than mere investments. But there’s concern that big investments rather than outright purchases are a way to avoid the FTC’s scrutiny, and the agency wants to understand the competitive implications. “Our study will shed light on whether investments and partnerships pursued by dominant companies risk distorting innovation and undermining fair competition,” FTC chair Lina Khan said in a statement.  
  • Both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines hope to return the troubled Boeing Max 9 plane to service as early as today, NBC News reported. ” Each of our aircraft will only return to service once the rigorous inspections are completed and each aircraft is deemed airworthy according to the FAA requirements,” Alaska Airlines wrote in a statement posted to its website, adding that inspections take up to 12 hours per plane. Continuing to emphasize the rigor of the inspections is a wise move as they work to rebuild trust with passengers – but more reassurance will certainly be needed. Passengers will understandably be nervous stepping onto the planes. If they aren’t already, airlines should equip front-line workers such as gate agents and flight attendants with talking points for anxious flyers. 
  • Vince McMahon, co-founder of the WWE and current executive chair of the wrestling giant’s parent company, is accused of sex trafficking an employee and paying her to keep her mouth shut. The Wall Street Journal reported a number of disturbing allegations – which McMahon denies – made in a lawsuit related to sexual crimes and harassment against a staffer. For communications purposes, the biggest news is that it casts doubt on a previous internal investigation that saw McMahon reinstated to his role. The woman accusing McMahon of crimes called the investigation “a sham” and said she was never interviewed by the committee. Even from a powerful founder, sexual impropriety cannot be tolerated. Internal investigations need to be committed to finding the truth and making hard decisions, even against the most powerful people in the organization. Otherwise, you wind up compounding the damage with damning stories like these. 

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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