Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
This photo taken with a fisheye lens on July 3, 2014 shows Microsoft Corp. signage outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft on Thursday, July 17, 2014 announced it will lay off 18,000 workers over the next year. (AP Photo Ted S. Warren)
Microsoft to cut up to 18,000 jobs over next year
Layoffs » Pink slips target 14 percent of the workforce, twice what analysts expected.
First Published Jul 17 2014 09:17 am • Last Updated Jul 17 2014 05:36 pm

Los Angeles • Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its 39-year history Thursday, outlining plans to cut 18,000 jobs in a move that marked the CEO’s sharpest pivot yet away from his predecessor’s drive for the company to make its own devices.

Although some cuts had been expected ever since Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile-device unit, the number amounted to 14 percent of the Microsoft workforce — about twice what analysts had estimated.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The cuts will include some 12,500 jobs associated with the Nokia unit — nearly half of the 28,000 employees Microsoft brought on board in April through the acquisition.

When the cuts are complete, the company will still have about 10,000 more employees than before the Nokia acquisition, with an overall headcount of 109,000.

In a public email to employees, CEO Satya Nadella said the changes were needed for the company to "become more agile and move faster." The move also pushes Nokia to focus solely on the Windows Phone operating system.

Nadella is clearly backing away from former CEO Steve Ballmer’s strategy of getting Microsoft to make its own smartphones and tablets.

"He’s making a pretty serious game-changing strategy move away from hardware," said Michael Turits, managing director of equity research for financial services company Raymond James & Associates.

Nadella indicated that Microsoft will largely abandon low-price Nokia Asha phones — which work on their own non-Windows operating system — and reverse a strategically questionable move by Nokia in February to launch a line of phones called "X" that supported rival Google Inc.’s Android platform.

"To win in the higher price tiers, we will focus on breakthrough innovation that expresses and enlivens Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences," Nadella said in the memo.

Some 1,350 Seattle-area workers around Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters were laid off Thursday, as were 1,800 workers in Hungary and nearly 370 in San Diego. The Nokia cuts include 1,100 jobs in Finland.


story continues below
story continues below

In addition, the company is closing its Xbox Entertainment Studios, a 2-year-old venture based in Santa Monica, California, that produced original video content but was seen as separate from Microsoft’s core business.

Microsoft Corp. expects charges of $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion over the next four quarters, largely for severance payments. The move puts the company on track to meet the target it set in September, when it announced the Nokia purchase, of saving $600 million in annual costs within 18 months after the deal closed. Ballmer announced the Nokia deal a month after he said he was resigning.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said the cuts were about double what Wall Street was expecting.

"Microsoft needs to be a leaner and meaner technology giant over the coming years in order to strike the right balance of growth and profitability around its cloud and mobile endeavors," he said.

The move dwarfs Microsoft’s previous biggest job cut, when it eliminated about 5,800 jobs in 2009. That was the company’s first widespread layoff.

Microsoft has been shifting its focus from traditional PC software to cloud computing and cloud-based products like its Office 365 productivity software that can operate on mobile devices.

With its $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia’s cellphone business, Microsoft had sought to meld its software and hardware business into a cohesive package, similar to rival Apple.

But investors had lingering doubts about the strategy, especially because the two brands’ market share in smartphones and tablets was so far behind Apple and Samsung. According to the latest financials, the Surface and Nokia device units are both losing money.

Nokia phones ran a wide array of operating systems that were not helpful to Microsoft’s Windows brand. The Asha operating system, for instance, lacked features like the ability to use mobile versions of Office software or even GPS mapping.

Soon after the deal was announced, Nokia’s overall handset sales plunged 29 percent in the final quarter of last year, even as its high-end Lumia devices grew quickly.

The Nokia purchase "is not a deal that (Nadella) agreed upon or negotiated or perhaps really wanted," said Scott Kessler, senior equity analyst at S&P Capital IQ. "Secondly, it seems that the market has changed pretty significantly over the last year ... pretty traumatic cuts seem probably somewhat appropriate at this point."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.