to cut 1,300 jobs.
January 30, 2001 3:52 PM   Subscribe to cut 1,300 jobs. Is this the beginning of sustainability for Amazon? Or is it the beginning of the end?
posted by tranquileye (11 comments total)
if 15% = 1,300, that means they were at ~8,700 employees?!

Hopefully it's just a correction to shave the fat off. I can't see how they had so many employees.
posted by mathowie at 4:02 PM on January 30, 2001

The way Amazon is going, they appear to have a realistic chance of turning a profit within the next 12 months. Even if it takes longer than that, i don't see them going bust.
posted by Zool at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2001

Hi there. Amazon laid me off today (not effective right away, however). I don't think I or my co-workers were fat.

posted by gluechunk at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2001

Or is it the beginning of the end?

Nah, it's too soon. Amazon will die on July 10th and not a millisecond before that.

posted by lagado at 4:53 PM on January 30, 2001

gluechunk, I'm sorry to hear that. If it helps, I really wondered if all those layoffs were in the website side of things or in the fullfillment side. When I said "fat" I was thinking of all the extra xmas workers they must have hired for the rush. Where did you work within amazon?
posted by mathowie at 4:57 PM on January 30, 2001

What reason did they give? How do you feel? What will you do now?
posted by internook at 4:57 PM on January 30, 2001

If you really do work for Amazon, GlueChunk, then I wish you the best in your job hunt. But very few people consider their jobs useless... it just isn't in our character.

Personally, I don't really buy into the lay-off paradigm... it used to be that employers held onto most of their employees one year to the next and rode-out the cycles of the marketplace. Ultimately, I feel, they saved money and human capital.

Of course, this can't apply to a situation where a company just over-hired. Which is what Amazon's situation looks like.
posted by silusGROK at 5:10 PM on January 30, 2001

Amazon will never die. If they ever run out of money, someone will bail them out. But their customer base and brand are too valuable. They'll raise their prices before they let themselves go bankrupt anyway.
posted by daveadams at 5:29 PM on January 30, 2001

Oh, and by "never" I mean "not within the next five years." Whatever.

As for over-hiring, Amazon and everyone else was predicting stronger growth. Maybe this is a sign that Amazon is planning for slower growth instead, in which case they don't need as many employees.
posted by daveadams at 5:31 PM on January 30, 2001

Well, what exactly do you consider as part of the fulfillment side? I think around 450 people are out of work with the closing of the distribution center in GA. The seattle distro center will become seasonal and only be open in Nov. and Dec. (I think). I'm not sure exactly how many are affected by that - a few hundred? I'm not too in tune with the fulfillment side of things, so I don't know if what was cut would be considered fatty. But there is a lot of DC space among the 6+ warehouses so maybe one just had to go.

Another 450 or so people will be cut from the seattle customer support center. And then people were cut here and there throughout the rest of the company.

Did the company over-hire? If they did then they didn't get rid of of those that were over-hired. Layoffs weren't based on last in/first out or on things like productivity. No, it was basically for economic reasons, or so they say.

I worked in the seattle customer support center. No, I didn't work on the retail side things. And no, I didn't answer a phone all day, helping people with orders. It involved working on auction/zshop/marketplace happenings. While I certainly won't claim that the company will suffer due to my leaving, I do know that the work my team does is of great quality and won't be replicated quickly. In fact, I think some of this shows in the layoff schedule.

While some people were laid off and had to be out by today, most of the seattle customer support people are to stay on until May 4th. Some groups, like mine, will be there until May 25th. Of course, we can leave earlier, but then we won't get the semi-decent severance package. I guess it all depends on what other jobs people may find.

I know "customer support/service" does sound glamorous, but amzn provided us with jobs that were (for awhile at least) pretty interesting. As stated here, the staff in seattle was the most experienced and the most veteran. Some people moved on to other parts of the company, becoming developers, analysts, what have you. Some remain within customer support, working on internal tools, projects, policies, etc. Like in other companies, some people stuck around doing semi-mindless work while waiting for their options to vest.

But people can be hired in other places to do similar basic jobs for a lower cost. And office space can be rented more cheaply elsewhere. So in the past year or so, support centers have opened in placed like west virginia and north dakota and india. If you write to nowadays, there's a good chance that the reply will be written by someone in India making a couple hundred dollars a month. But this has caused quality to suffer, which is obvious to anyone working within the department.

As stated above, the layoffs around me weren't based on last in/first out or productivity or lack of work for us to do. There's plenty of work for us - yesterday my boss asked us to each work at least another 10 extra hours this week. Today we're told we're not wanted.

I don't know. I'm rambling. I'm not sure how I feel about all of this. Some people are really glad to be laid off, some aren't. Some of us will now perhaps be more motivated to find more engaging jobs. Some will just start drinking more. Some may decide to relocate to west virginia for some strange reason.

I will say though that the process used to tell us about the layoffs was interesting. I may write about that later I guess. Tomorrow we'll see the "Separation Agreement and General Release" that must be signed to receive the "enhanced" severance package. For the time being I'll probably stick around there for another 4 months though. I would have liked to stay much longer.
posted by gluechunk at 10:53 PM on January 30, 2001

Amazon is setting up a fund valued at $2.5 million holding company stock.

But it's a pretty empty gesture. That sounds like a lot, but it comes to less than $2000 per ex-employee -- assuming Amazon stock stays level and doesn't decline further.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2001

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