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I hope that by now you’ve all had a chance to read and digest the announcement and the blog post about today’s layoff.

This was not an easy decision to make, nor is this an easy conversation to have. At the end, if you squint, I hope you’ll see the faint glimmer of a silver lining. But we have work to do before we get to that point.

On October 16th, 2023, Stack Exchange laid off roughly 28% of its workforce. This follows a previous lay-off of 10% in May.

Among those impacted this time were two highly valued members of the Community team.

While we are respecting the privacy of those impacted, I want to take a moment to say that the folks we laid off were not let go on the basis of poor performance. On the contrary, they are some of the best folks I have ever had the chance to work with. These are attractive hires, solid candidates, and affable, talented people. We’re grateful to have had the chance to work with them. They have our respect, and they deserve yours as well. I hope that we can count on you to do everything possible to ease their transition, beginning by not speculating as to who was cut and ‘why’. They deserve some privacy as they get focused on their next moves.

It is impossible to ignore the fact this action will have impacts on the community. Now that you have a better sense for what took place, it’s time to talk about the effects that this change will have on the community itself, and your participation here.

Our commitment to the community remains unchanged.

I want to start by dispelling any concerns that our plan involves contractions in the community, closing any site, or ramping down participation. The community isn’t going anywhere.

Community is among the most reliable cornerstones of the place – the essence of what makes this company what it is. Our intent to support the community using whatever resources we have available is unwavering.

Our commitment to ensuring the community is maintained, however, does not mean the community will be unaffected by today’s changes. It will be affected, and you deserve to know exactly how.

Our responses to you will be temporarily disrupted.

Everyone in the company will be involved in managing this transition. Because every team in the company was impacted by these cuts, every single team’s workflow is going to change. You can reasonably expect some delays as we adjust.

Projects undergoing active work may change scope or be canceled.

Stack Exchange has many projects in the oven at any given time, ranging from days to months in length. The scope of many of these short-term projects will change.

Longer-term projects that are more piecemeal in nature, such as time spent servicing requests for new tools, may also be impacted and responsiveness may slow down. My commitments during the recent moderator action negotiations remain intact, and we will continue to honor them.

At the same time, there may be a couple of very exciting product features to announce - including the potential return of one or two that were previously sunset that you might feel strongly about. We’re seeing some positive signs around uptake for our new OverflowAI features, and today’s actions will allow us to be more strategic and to narrow our focus as we move forward. Expect to see a continued focus on OverflowAI as we build it toward commercial viability.

Short-term priorities may shift towards reliability and maintenance.

It’s important to us that the sites continue to function as designed. Like I said, the community isn’t going anywhere. That means we’ll still prioritize bug-fixes as usual, and maintain our uptime. Any reduction in our work throughput will come from other areas of product development.

If you’ve got questions, put ‘em in answers. One question per answer, please.

I’m expecting this post to spark many questions, and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can. If we answer that something is confidential, please don’t take that as an opportunity to speculate. Again, out of respect for anyone impacted, we are not able to answer any questions about individual employees. We may remove content that violates the privacy of people impacted here.

To make this easier to manage, please ask only one question per answer. In terms of answering questions here, the following are designated as official company spokespersons. Any other person answering or discussing below is not working with or answerable to them and those answers should probably be regarded as unofficial and not authoritative. Our designated spokespeople are:

Others may be designated if needed but they will be introduced and added to this list by one of these people, if so.

Final thoughts

Today is a pretty sucky day for all of us, but particularly for those who are leaving us. I wouldn’t presume to imagine how they’re feeling, but I know it can’t feel good. We’re all going to miss our colleagues, and we’re asking for your understanding as we sort out how we move forward. But one of the most important things that we do now is to honor our impacted teammates and the gifts they brought with them, and we do that by letting them know that their work and contributions will live on, and they will forever be a part of the story of this place. We were honored to work with them. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and we wish them the very best.

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    The affected CMs have been in the Tavern to talk about what happened and have been conspicuously removed from the Meta list of CMs (as well as the more subtle effects like disappearing staff/mod badges), so it's not exactly a secret (and, given their public-facing role, it couldn't be). But, I do think it is difficult not to speculate about how these particular individuals were chosen and what it means for company strategy, given the kind things you have to say about them and their intimate connections to the community as users and former moderators prior to their staff roles. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 17:46
  • 286
    "The community isn’t going anywhere." Well, they might go somewhere else if you keep firing all their beloved community managers and other Q&A teams... everyone left on the Community team now has, what, 3 years of experience with this community or less?
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:08
  • 42
    @java-addict301 That's... not really relevant; 99% of the "tech layoffs of 2022/2023" are from FAANG or FAANG-adjacent companies who over-hired during the pandemic to build capacity for remote working. Stack Overflow already worked fine w/ remote workers and also does not offer cloud products that are impacted by significantly more users stuck at home.
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:17
  • 25
    TylerH, no..... we have more than that... Slate, Jnat, Cesar.... and that's right off the top of my head. Not to mention the community knowledge entrenched in other teams (Yaakov, for isntance).
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:23
  • 61
    Practical effect: The good years are over. SO is sliding since many years and the company together with the community didn't find the right answers while the resources were still there. Now resources are dwindling but acceptance for change might be higher (on both sides). It may get better or even worse. Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 7:23
  • 25
    @Randal'Thor and of those spokespeople, other than philippe, which has posted to meta in the last 6 months? Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 8:55
  • 111
    as a company, you decide which member of the community team leaves or stays, but you don't get to decide what the community does. Your "The community isn’t going anywhere" seems quite a bold statement to make
    – Lamak
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 12:58
  • 33
    How did you spend $85 million in three years? This company used to make $70 million a year. Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 14:05
  • 14
    @Philippe Yesterday there were some amazingly quick responses to questions asked here in the answers. Thank you so much for the quick responses on those. I assume you'll be messenger for most answers, and there's a lot to answer-- But can you set expectations for when folks might expect responses on other questions that have been asked?
    – AMtwo
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 19:36
  • 71
    Designated spokesperson Prashanth Chandrasekar, last seen more than a month ago. Hmm... Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 2:14
  • 22
    @RebeccaJ.Stones That's not a big problem for me. I never understood what the CEO wants to say anyway. With Philippe I feel like I might be able to have a meaningful conversation. With "...it's to better meet the demands of our users, customers, and partners as part of this commitment to product innovation and the continued momentum of OverflowAI both for Stack Overflow for Teams and on our public platform" for example I cannot really interact. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 5:58
  • 42
    @RebeccaJ.Stones - Last heard from, nearly 3 years ago
    – Sayse
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 10:25
  • 38
    @Philippe this question is up for a couple days, now, and so far there is no sign of Mr. Prashanth Chandrasekar showing up to address the community's questions.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 11:16
  • 75
    What really pisses me off is that one day you have massive layoffs, the next day you launch some "new colors" initiative which literally achieved nothing but making all sites less readable. So you have a whole team engaged in a project for the sole purpose of actively making the sites worse, essentially just digging pits and filling them up again. And then you wonder why the company is doing poorly.
    – Lundin
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 8:13
  • 26
    @T.Sar quick look here clearly showing the CEO has no interest in the sites. That is fine, he is a very busy person. What strikes me odd is why there is list of four spokespeople when it's beyond obvious there is actually only one. Can't see the goal in listing more people, who won't engage. (one of them doesn't even have account in Stack Exchange) Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 11:14

54 Answers 54

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In the past, Stack Overflow has put some significant efforts into hiring a diverse workforce. In particular, when I started on the DBRE team at Stack Overflow, I was quite proud of the company's diversity in terms of gender & sexual orientation, and while racial diversity was not necessarily industry-leading, the company was executing quite well at hiring and maintaining a diverse workforce.

Recognizing the importance of a diverse workplace can you provide some aggregate numbers on how the February, May, and October layoffs have affected the company's workforce diversity?

Ideally, I would like to see the top-level numbers for these "big three" diversity measures (race, gender, sexual orientation), for the company as a whole at the start of the year vs now vs the makeup of the large combined cohort of laid-off former-Stackers.

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    Just out of curiosity. Is sexual orientation really reliable known in US based companies? Where I come from, you're not allowed to ask for anything like that, so the number is largely unknown and a change in that number could hardly be measured. Is this possible in the US? Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 20:48
  • 5
    Race & sexual orientation are both voluntary questions, and sometimes collected during anonymous surveys. Regardless, it's considered an important DEIB metric for companies to track. As a former employee, I don't actually recall how Stack collected this info. If it was during anonymous surveys, the company might be limited to Year-over-year numbers. The HRC Equality Index scoring algorithm (section 3b) includes this type of data collection as part of rating employers' LGBTQ friendliness.
    – AMtwo
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 21:57
  • 7
    Does the DEIB metric translate to any meaningful increase in productivity or adversely impact productivity?
    – TheMaster
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 1:24
  • 5
    @TheMaster try googling "studies on diversity in the workplace" ... my top result starts "A McKinsey & Company study showed that companies in the top 25% for racial/ethnic and gender diversity were respectively 36% and 25% more likely to have superior financial returns. "
    – AMtwo
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 2:18
  • 3
    I spoke with our Director of Divesity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and showed her this question. Here's her reply: "Beginning in April of 2023, we began reporting demographic data internally to all staff, and we will continue to report representation data - as well as progress on key Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives - internally every six months. One of the challenges we've faced with reporting is large gaps in employee self-ID data, which is shared voluntarily. ...
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:32
  • 3
    ...Because we're a global company, there are a number of demographics we cannot ask for countries we have employees in, and there are also some demographics that are outside the cultural norm to request in some countries. To keep our data gathering scalable for our relatively small People Ops team, we currently ask consistent questions for all geographies. We feel that data reporting is an important step in our journey to accountability and for gauging the efficacy of our DEIB programs....
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:33
  • 3
    ... While we don't have imminent plans to begin reporting that information externally, it is something that is on our five-year timeline; meanwhile, we will continue to work on closing data gaps, creating consistent and reliable internal reporting, and measuring the success of our key DEIB initiatives. "
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:33
  • 3
    @Philippe To ask a followup, based on the self-reporting data that you DO have, was Stack careful to monitor for potential (implicit) bias in identifying individuals to be laid off? Equitable hiring practices are important, but I personally feel that equitable employment & termination are a more important factor, given the extremely high "drop out rate" of women, POC, and gender queer folks in the Tech industry in the US.
    – AMtwo
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 14:52
  • 4
    @Philippe To be perfectly blunt, I assume the company considered demographics as it relates to underrepresented groups & members of what US non-discrimination law considers "protected classes" -- failure to do so would be a glaring misstep as discrimination (implicit or overt) would open the company up to potential legal action by those impacted. Perhaps you could shed some light on how Stack ensured that bias was eliminated from the process of selecting persons to be laid off.
    – AMtwo
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 15:04
  • 1
    the spelling error was mine, thanks for catching it. @AMtwo - I'll provide your follow up questions to her and see what response she'd like to make.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 11:46
28

I noticed in the recent blog post by Prashanth Chandrasekar, there was no thanks given to those that were part of the most recent layoff. I feel like in general when making an announcement about a layoff, the company thanks the workers affected for their work over the years, and was wondering if there was a reason this wasn't included as part of the blog post.

The way it is worded currently makes the layoffs seem like a side note, with the main focus being on the the development of AI/ML capabilities and the working for more profitability for next year.

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    It would be nice if @Prashanth, in your role as one of the dedicated spokespeople on this issue, could address this directly. I feel like this is a pretty big misstep to not even take a moment to (publicly) thank all those affected.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 5:53
26

In the blog post, we can read the following:

To our community members and customers reading this note: you are foundational to our success. Thank you for your continued partnership as we enter this next phase.

I thought our hierarchic relationship had been made pretty clear since recent and less recent indiscretions: how are community members now considered partners?

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The community isn’t going anywhere

I did, years ago, after what you, the Company(tm), did to M.Cellio.

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    I mostly dipped after Prosus bought SO. I still come around occasionally & leave a couple comments, but I'm not hanging out & answering questions for fun.
    – Reed
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 18:24
  • 6
    @Reed Same here. My actual contributions go elsewhere, as mentioned in my profile.
    – code_dredd
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 18:32
  • To clarify, it's my SO profile, not my Meta profile.
    – code_dredd
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 7:27
23

When reading the following parts:

On October 16th, 2023, Stack Exchange laid off roughly 28% of its workforce. This follows a previous lay-off of 10% in April.

Projects undergoing active work may change scope or be canceled.

Because every team in the company was impacted by these cuts, every single team’s workflow is going to change. You can reasonably expect some delays as we adjust.

I came across the question how much the development team is impacted.

Aside from Community Management, the dev team is very important to the Community as they are the ones building new features. With the phrasing, I get a feel that the dev team got hit very hard.

So, how much impact is there on the dev team? Can we get concrete numbers on that? Especially numbers regarding the people working on the public Q&A would be interesting.

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    I don't have concrete numbers, as I was a part of the April layoff, but it seems this round was more focused on designers and sales. Engineering took the big hit in April. Some devs were impacted by this but so far I have seen very few.
    – Josh Wolsborn StaffMod
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:27
  • 1
    Thank you. It's good to see that it at least didn't effect the dev team that much.
    – dan1st
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:32
  • 1
    Looked in the list of completed bugs here, sifted over the pages, and luckily didn't find even single developer (who posted here) that was laid off. Maybe some did in the Teams department, or those who didn't post here, but looks like they took a lesser hit. Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 8:12
23

According to The Verge:

Word of the layoffs comes over a year after the company made a big hiring push, doubling its size to over 500 people.

Is this accurate? If so, what accountability will there be for the leaders who upended so many people's lives through such spectacularly poor planning?

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    That's not a valid point, you work, they fire you, you search for another job. Its not like stackoverflow would have kept them forever, or they wouldn't leave for a better deal.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:25
  • @Or4ng3h4t It is absolutely a valid point. Lots of people would leave very stable jobs they had for a chance at working at a place with such a prestigious name like Stack Overflow had. Now those people are jobless. It's not as if SO was "just another company" like every other out there. The name has weight, it carries a promise that was now broken to several people.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 0:21
  • It might be cultural, but not a single person I know would want to work for SO, Google, Facebook, X etc., those companies suck life out of you, always has been, they take their developers as cheap as they can get them, use them, they feel burnout, fire them, repeat.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 9:40
20

Why are you cutting your sales team if your goal is more sales?

From the CEO's blog post:

As I mentioned, our focus for this fiscal year and into the next is profitability and that, along with macroeconomic pressures led to today’s changes.

and

As such, we are significantly reducing the size of our go-to-market organization while we do so. Supporting teams and other teams across the organization are impacted as well.

How do these two fit together? You have a platform that has been around for a decade. It would seem if your primary goal is short therm profitablity, then the sales team is the last thing you should be cutting, and investment into development or other areas like middle management that have not such a direct impact on sales in the short term, is what you should be doing.

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    Teams sales (what the "go-to-market org" refers to) is not necessarily the only option or even the most desired option for profitability, in terms of the board's perspective. If no new customers are buying SO Teams, do you want to keep paying for 50 people in a Teams Sales department, for example? Or do you want to reduce that team down to 10 people until sales pick back up again? (NB - I don't know how many people were in that team or how many were laid off, the numbers here are just examples).
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 19:46
  • @TylerH How else is SO making money? The site is free, and does not use advertising, at least I never saw any. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:29
  • 8
    @GroodytheHobgoblin i mean. there's absolutely ads. Has been for what... 10? 12? years?
    – Kevin B
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:31
  • 17
    @GroodytheHobgoblin Ads, sponsorships, collectives, SO Enterprise if that's still a thing, existing SO Teams (Sales reps are for typically new customers, not maintaining existing ones), plus general funding from their owner, Prosus. Honestly I think they should bring back Careers/Jobs as that was a great product and one that fit well into the theme of SO and its general marketing "plan" of collecting all the programming knowledge in one place. That could be what OP is talking about above with "one feature may be returning soon".
    – TylerH
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:55
  • @KevinB Thanks for the explanation - I am nostly on RPG.SE, which does not have any, but if other sites do, that is of course an explanation. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 21:36
  • 2
    Ah, yeah, that makes sense then. Sorry! yea SO has had ads forever, it's a very large portion of SO's revenue stream. Certainly not all of their revenue, of course, but enough for them to care about doing something about the decline in engagement.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 21:37
  • 3
    @TylerH I loved SO Careers (got at least one job out of it), but one of the things I heard from people at SO was that they had trouble getting hiring people to care about the SO aspect of it. To HR and non-technical people, SO Careers was just another place they had to pay to post a job ad. I was hoping it would provide deeper insight into technical and communication capabilities when hiring, but none of the people who contacted me via SO careers ever looked at my SO activity -- by the time engineers were looking at my resume, it was entirely removed from SO. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 21:43
20

Tell me about the money. What are the financial figures?

  1. How much money will you save per-year due to these layoffs?
  2. How much revenue do you get per-year?
  3. What are your revenue/profit goals annually?
  4. What portion of your revenue goes to high-paid executives, making $200k or more per year?
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  • 2
    Some older numbers, from before the acquisition: A previous revelation stated 16 USD million in 2018 in ad revenue (mostly Azure) out of 44 USD million in 2018. There may or may not be information about Jobs revenue in there. But Jobs probably couldn't achieve the stated goal of 700 USD million. Jobs is mentioned from 20 min 58 secs. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 21:11
  • cont' - (Ad avoidance information: [00 min 00 secs - 00 min 52 secs], [09 min 18 secs - 11 min 33 secs], [28 min 40 secs - 30 min 58 secs], and [43 min 54 secs - 45 min 47 secs].) Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 21:18
  • 2
    @This_is_NOT_a_forum thanks. Yeah, I see he says somebody's gotta take them from 70 million to 700 million, then take it public. I hate it lol. 70 million's gotta be plenty revenue to actually run StackOverflow, but probably not enough to make investors happy, hence the acquisition, i guess.
    – Reed
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 21:55
  • 7
    I will ask for these numbers but I will say upfront that I don't expect to be able to publish non-public data here. But I'll ask and see what, if anything, I can get.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 12:29
  • @Philippe, thank you for working on it. Were you able to get the numbers?
    – Reed
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 22:29
19

StackOverflow announced some funding 3 years ago: $85m.

If that were all spent by now (I'm not saying it is; just for reference) that equates to spending over $2.5m/month.

I think some people might have the following question: how is this even remotely possible for a site that was already built to run efficiently, with a strong volunteer community that was extremely self-sustaining? How can a CEO raise that much money, and deliver so poorly that repeated layoffs are necessary?

Why not strip back to core ops and dev teams, a 2-person design team, 3 product people, one of whom is CPO, and reinvest in community? This place was working when the CEO and more recent senior management team inherited it. It's now not.

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    Why not strip back because it changed hands for $1.8bn in the meantime
    – Pekka
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 21:05
  • 2
    @Pekka sounds like Twitter case: bought for insane amount, which caused the buyer to go on layoff spree to cut his losses. (At least here in SE employees still have toilet paper in the toilets. I hope.) Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 11:18
  • "This place was working when the CEO and more recent senior management team inherited it. It's now not" The management team is supposed to sell the company at a value higher than when it was bought. To have a working place is not in their immediate interest.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 13:39
  • @EarlGrey I don't think it's worth speculating about that; I do think the CEO should take the hit and resign for spending so much money on things people wanted that wouldn't help.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 14:04
  • 1
    @RobGrant exactly, there is no need to speculate, if you check the CEO profile stackoverflow.co/company/leadership/prashanth-chandrasekar you will understand the CEO expertise and that they will not take any hit, at worst they may not get a bonus, by failing their goals of "driving Stack Overflow’s overall strategic direction and results". The layoff however aligns with it and with "Our focus for this fiscal year is on profitability [...] along with macroeconomic pressures, led to today’s changes." reason given for the previous layoff. I see Santa bringing a big bonus for the CEO...
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 14:14
  • 4
    The course for the current situation was set back in 2010 when it was decided to take on Venture Capital. Everything bad (from the community's perspective) that has happened since was probably an inevitable consequence of full-on joining 21st century US corporate culture and the pressure to hopefully, eventually go 100x. Had the decision been taken back then to trudge on with a skeleton crew, in the style of early-days Wikipedia, and focus on being a library for the world, maybe things would have worked out differently. Who knows!
    – Pekka
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 14:22
  • @EarlGrey why? Has SO made a profit?
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 8:58
  • @RobGrant you do not need to make a profit to sell a company at a higher price than when you bought it. See Twitter: in 2009 its valuation was ~1 billion. In 2017 its value was ~17 bilion (of which only 7bilion of "tangible" assets). How much profit made twitter between 2009 and 2017. Zero. It was burning money. Its net income was always negative. This did not prevent the management to get bonuses for reaching arbitrarily estabilished goals, backed by the increased valuation of the company and its financing by investors.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:03
  • @EarlGrey sure, but you're claiming that the SO CEO has done well. Why do you say that?
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:43
  • 1
    @RobGrant I am not saying the CEO did well. I am saying the CEO and the managment are doing what they know to do to increase profitability, achieving their goals. Their two blog posts about firing people are copy&paste (May stackoverflow.blog/2023/05/10/… and now stackoverflow.blog/2023/10/16/… ) Firing people while having some customers with contract in place is a sure way to increase it. If there will be new customers after these contracts end, who knows and who cares?
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 10:09
  • @EarlGrey this seems to be a generic rant, unrelated to your claim that the CEO will get a big bonus for the company performance. If that was also just a generic rant that's fine; I'd rather you just said so, so I can stop assuming you've got info.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 10:13
  • @RobGrant general rant? I have nothing to rant, I have just been close to too many startups in their expansion&exit phase ... the CEO is not known to do spectacular things, just to follow what is coming from money bringer, see as an example teamblind.com/post/Opinions-on-Prashanth-Chandrasekar-46kyDzg5
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 10:15
  • @RobGrant on the other hand, you seem to have a general unfounded rant against the CEO: " This place was working when the CEO and more recent senior management team inherited it. It's now not." The CEO has been hired to fulfill certain goals. These goals are not what you consider relevant, and unless you are investing 85M in the company your consideration are unfortunately not relevant ...
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 11:04
  • 1
    The goal is Profitability, it is written in two different blog posts, the CEO is known for his strong performance in M&A, it is simple logic to see how the goals are exactly defined and why the CEO was rationally picked among the large pool of candidates for the position.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 13:40
  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 21:27
16

Our responses to you will be temporarily disrupted.

Everyone in the company will be involved in managing this transition. Because every team in the company was impacted by these cuts, every single team’s workflow is going to change. You can reasonably expect some delays as we adjust.

This seems to have been the standard every time the community received bad news, so thanks for the transparency this time, I guess. But doesn't this also mean you have too few employees to properly deal with changes in the company to begin with?

Furthermore, managing workflows and the responsibilities of separate teams seems to me something that should be handled in advance of laying off people, not afterwards; how thought-out was this decision?

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    Just speaking practically here, I think that no matter how you slice it, a 28% layoff is not going to be an easy time for the employees at the company. In terms of how we organize, managers within the company received instructions after the layoff as to how they will reorganize, and are sharing them with their teams. This will take time and energy to manage - it's a major project for everyone in the company to adapt. But it's also our highest priority...
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:39
  • 7
    ...Our intent is not to neglect public communications, but I wrote this post in the spirit of honesty and transparency, and in that spirit it needs to be said that when push comes to shove, the practical first priority has to be managing the internal transition.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:39
  • Thank you for your answers, @Philippe. I realize there must be the necessary adjustment after the layoff when the practical side of the matter kicks in, but it just struck me as strange that continuing communication towards the community (as "one of the most reliable cornerstones") was an apparently overlooked/unanticipated aspect of it all. Maybe I overestimated the timespan suggested in the above quote. [cont.]
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 10:14
  • 2
    [cont.] Then again, you have been active here, which is very much appreciated—as is the transparency. Nevertheless, can you still expand on how the current workload will be coped with, with this now much smaller team )especially in regards to the community and the online platform)? Or is that something that will be addressed in more detail elsewhere?
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 10:15
  • 2
    We'll be expanding on that more in future posts (at least for the community team, and probably - i'm guessing on this though - the product org). Since we haven't yet had a chance to inform everyone involved of changes in assignments, I dont want to jump the gun here.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 10:30
15

Ok, so what I see here is a young man with a bright future going "Oooh shiny!" for a gold rush and selling his mother on the black market to buy a good shovel and pickaxe, and heading to the mines.

My question is, what is Stack Exchange's plan for the plausible future where all of this was a big bubble and there wasn't that much gold in the mine after all? What if you dig and it's all dirt and cobble?

To be more clear: Does Stack Exchange leadership take the community for granted? Are you guys really sure this AI thing you've got going will pan out? Let's say, the future is Mojo, or Bun, or some other new language, and nobody is posting here anymore because you burnt all trust. What then? Hope Microsoft buys you?

1
  • It seems unlikely that Prosus will accept what Microsoft could possibly pay at this juncture. The spiel now is to degrade the investment so it can be sold off at a loss when it's really clear that they paid too much for it.
    – tripleee
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 17:00
14

For anyone impacted by this RIF, I would like to offer my support. Please comment here or reach out to me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sscovil/) and I will do whatever I can to help boost your signal, make introductions to folks in my network, and try to connect you with other opportunities.

I've been a longtime user of Stack Overflow. I've also been through several layoffs at previous companies, and know how difficult and frightening it can be. This community is bigger than the company that created it, and communities come together in difficult times. Let me know how I can help.

2
12

I took offense when you dismissed Nikolay. Now, I am even more in shock. You dismissed 27% of staff because you want to amass more money. What's next? Will you continue? I suppose so.

I see you. I see only money in your eyes.

1
  • SO is "for profit", money is how they work, without money no jobs.... people wont work for free in the country where SO is located.
    – mxmissile
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 15:07
12

What will happen? I am not sure; I imagine as Stack Overflow continues this trend of 'caring' for the community, eventually that community will move to alternatives.

An example of an alternative that I have found myself pulled to is Codidact.com which is equivalent in terms of technology/interactive experience to Stack Exchange, though it lacks the Google/GitHub/Facebook sign ins (which are nice). And, more importantly has significantly fewer members.

What alternatives have you found?

12

This feels like just a repetition of previous answers, but I don't think it has received a credible response.

If it wasn't for performance reasons (because you say so in the announcement) and it's not that you specifically wanted to get rid of personnel who was rooting for the community (because those are certainly the optics from where I'm looking) ... what other reasons could remain?

8
  • It's obviously about money
    – Robotnik
    Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 23:45
  • 1
    I think we've been fairly upfront: this action was taken to cut costs.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 1:42
  • 5
    Many years ago I worked for Signetics, a subsidiary of Philips Semiconductors. When Philips decided to close Signetics and its Orem, UT facility, in at least the case of our design team, they fired nearly all of the senior personnel, leaving myself and a handful of college graduates as the core of the design team. The people they fired were brilliant engineers - but they were trying to save money and we were cheap. I suspect they believed they could hold on to most of the market share (of our team) while we "came up to speed." In other words, this actually happens, but it doesn't bode well.
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 2:38
  • 2
    Yes, of course you reduce personnel to cut costs, but when you do, you also decide which personnel to reduce. That's what this question is obviously about.
    – tripleee
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 5:15
  • 8
    @tripleee I think the most likely explanation is that their current projects did not overlap with the top priorities of the company, which is troubling because those projects included those that interact intimately with the public sites and curator/moderator community (e.g. mod tooling, testing the consequences of rep changes for voting), but also not surprising because those do not overlap with the short-term money makers and company priorities (Teams, Collectives, "AI"). Also an incredibly short-sighted (though seemingly industry-typical) way to do layoffs. Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 15:14
  • @Philippe I assumed this comment was quite clear yet this imho look like another attempt to answer a different question. This user, like everyone else is not asking WHY you cut the number of employees - that hopefully should be clear. They are asking how you choose who got laid-off since it is not a secret that from the outside it looks like you are cherry-picking some key figures that were closer to the community (see shog9 before this). Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 8:30
  • @Philippe [cont] obviously you are free to say that you can't disclose this because those are private detail and I will accept that but... please don't treat us fool. This question didn't ask why you did this and you probably know that. Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 8:32
  • @Philippe Glassdoor exists. What CM's are paid is a drop in the bucket, and doesn't not justifiy firing them to "save costs".
    – T. Sar
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 16:44
12

I believe the culprit here is AI. There, I've said it. However, this move can backfire.

First off, let’s put ourselves in SO shoes: You own the biggest Q&A sites in the history of Q&A sites. You have a lot of human curated data. You are concerned about web scraping and it being used to train LLMs. Right? It's your data after all, and you don't want to give it away for free and a side effect will certainly a steep decrease in traffic to your sites. What can you do?

Use AI yourself to cut costs. I think this is the general direction.

Where is this short-sighted?

  1. AI trained without human curation is not performant and eventually these huge expensive models will (re)introduce some of that in their huge training databases.
  2. AI can't assert correctness deterministically. Therefore it can be easily swindled into error and it almost never recovers by itself.
  3. Trust with the community is broken.
  4. If SO survives, it will have to start over.

I hope this isn't some suits chasing the big bucks. That will fail. You aren't making silicon chips; you are a Q and A site collection.

Ever heard of the New York City PC repair shop that, despite top-tier equipment and staff, struggled to make ends meet? Somehow along the way it forgot it was a computer repair shop. The point is, if a Q&A site is struggling to make a profit, it is because it is probably too big or their margins too high, or its investments too bad. Something. Sorry for not ending on a cheerful note.

3
  • Re "the New York City PC repair shop": Louis Rossman? Sample YouTube video. Wasn't that mostly for Apple devices? Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 16:12
  • 6
    You think you have to hyperlink New York in case some people are unfamiliar with this city, but not the obscure PC shop you are apparently alluding to?
    – tripleee
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 16:58
  • 1
    I'm sorry, the hyperlinking was a complete accident. The point was the important bit. Different business should expect different profit margins, even in 2023. Maximising profit at all costs is the most expensive thing to do. And acting out of FOMO isn't good either. Hopefully everyone laid off will still be ok.
    – MDSv
    Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 18:43
11

Sounds like you're firing people who get paid a lot and substituting them with lower paid positions and AI/ML.

2
  • 1
    No, there's no intention to replace the laid off staff with lower-cost options. That... is rather evil. If I were to find out that a situation like you describe was planned, I would not be standing here in front of you, because I would immediately depart. Luckily, no one in our management would even dream of that, I'm fairly comfortable saying, and I truly believe that the company would never take an action such as you suggest. And I feel confident in saying that Prashanth would never sign off on that.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 12:18
  • Then, the lost jobs are just lost? So if we had 100 people doing something now we have 72? What's the impact? (e.g. Slower response time or whatever)
    – Daviid
    Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 7:11
10

Would the company consider spinning off the public sites as a non-profit? The cost of running the servers is surely a small fraction of the company's expenses and could surely be covered by the community (especially if we knew what it cost). And if the company isn't willing to properly invest in the community team, then maybe it would be better to just let the community run itself? Without diminishing the work that our CMs have done, it has been a small team. Even if every CM's workload required 10 times as many volunteers, I think the network is large enough to have that many trusted people. Obviously it wouldn't be easy to run a network of this size as a non-profit, but it would be worth considering at least.

5
  • 4
    Except my (totally an outsider) hunch is that the nominal value of SE is based on the traffic provided by the public sites. Without the public sites to provide (a) viewers/clickers of ads, (b) recommendations to companies to set up their own private instances (Teams), etc. there is little value to the rest of the company. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 16:07
  • 3
    I think we could afford to re-hire the CMs part-time: a Stack Exchange Charitable Foundation would probably get a lot of grant money.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 19:29
  • 1
    FWIW - i have some experience in this area, having worked at the Wikimedia Foundation for the better part of a decade. Raising money is HARD and while Wikipedia does it pretty well, we purposely walked AWAY from grants because they came with an expectation that donors could influence our direction, and we weren't comfortable with that. And truly unencumbered large donations were few and far between. People like to give for shiny projects, but few give to pay the water bill. Might be harder than you suggest.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 12:21
  • @Philippe The Wikimedia Foundation hit its Endowment goal well in advance of schedule, and receives far more than its actual running costs. No one would donate to SE when it's run as it is now, but with solid community leadership it would certainly be possible. No guarantee of course, but it's quite possible the network could fund itself. Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 13:04
  • 1
    Sure. It's quite possible. It's certainly possible fund itself - but the point i am making is that it would likely need to be individual donors, not grant monies that do it.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 1:37
6

Projects undergoing active work may change scope or be canceled.

and

Short-term priorities may shift towards reliability and maintenance.

and

That means we’ll still prioritize bug-fixes as usual

If your capacities are indeed so much compromised now, I suggest rolling back the recent "colors change" project.

My observation is that

  • that change had made things significantly worse (in terms of ergonomy / eye strain), and
  • the number of bugs seem to prognostize a long-term ongoing struggle towards a direction that currently, already, looks like a step backwards from what this site had beforehand.

When a budget running out is a realistic threat, you may find it a better choice to get stuck at that point with something that is at least usable and inviting-looking — and not this current version that is inducing strong eye-strain, to name only its biggest issue.

The way this effort kicked off, might warn of a long-term ongoing struggle with bugs and unplanned revisions.

I find, under other circumstances, it could be straightforward to march on and smoothen out wrinkles as you go, but with a faltering budget, the option to roll back to the latest stable and usable UI, and re-contemplate any next steps from there, is also worth a thought.

0
4

Can Stack Exchange Inc. explain the impact of the layoff on the Community-a-thon 2023 event?

What message is the company trying to send to the community, by holding Community-a-thon (an event which was started to "Improve empathy between all Stack Overflow employees and our sites and communities") on one hand, and laying off staff on the other hand at the same time?

Clearly, you are not sending the right message to the community.

3
  • 8
    We considered this. Rosie is in charge of community-a-thon this year, and I asked her what she wanted to do about it. Not long after that, V2blast actually weighed in (his accounts hadn't been deactivated yet) and made a fairly clear statement that he thought it should go forward, which matched Rosie's feeling as well - we honor those who have left us by going forward with the things that are already in flight, whenever we can. At the end of the day, it was a judgment call, but I think it's the right one. I could be wrong, though.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 4:03
  • "We honor those who have left us" sounds amazingly like "don't do x or the terrorists win" that we heard all the time in the decade following 9/11. Honoring the laid off, honestly, should have next to no impact on whether or not an event happens. What needs be considered, first and foremost, is simply: Can it happen at all, with the reduced staff,? followed by how much overtime, legitimate or otherwise, will this cause the remaining staff to work? When considering the hours over 40 (overtime), I'm not only talking about monetary costs, but burn out and other work/life separation issues.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 13:38
  • 10
    @Philippe "those who have left us" doesn't sound right. It sounds as if the employees resigned, but in reality, they were laid off. Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 13:45
-3

Did you ask the entire staff if they'd take a cut in pay in order to avoid layoffs before dropping the ax?

8
  • 1
    Wouldn't that be based on whether or not the true and only impetus for the removal of staff was cost?
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 13:40
  • 3
    I am not an accountant, but the limited amount that I know about the situation indicates that the pay cut would need to be very very substantial. It's not just the cost of salaries, it's the total cost of employing people - insurance, training, computers, benefits.... and personnel costs around something like 80% of our total budget. The total costs (and therefore the savings realized and the pay cut inherent in your proposal) add up quickly. I'm just not sure that's a feasible option. But in short, no, that question was not asked, and I think probably because it wouldn't cover the cost.
    – Philippe StaffMod
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 12:14
  • Including "training" (which costs far more than computers) in the cost of keeping employees seems a bit unfair.
    – Conrado
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 15:11
  • That is not a custom in the USA. USA has at will employment, so firings happen from tomorrow and you can easily get work. Union things, minimum wage and notice, these are all possible but not obligatory and not very common.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 20:21
  • 2
    @Philippe something that is pretty common here is for a company to suggest employees, especially elder, to retire willingly and get a nice bonus for that. This way the costs you described are saved, and less employees are laid off. Example Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 15:07
  • @GCCampbell "As I mentioned, our focus for this fiscal year and into the next is profitability and that, along with macroeconomic pressures led to today’s changes." Sounds like cost was the leading consideration to me. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 18:00
  • @Philippe Yes, I'm aware the cost of benefits adds to the cost of employment, so everyone would have to take a deeper cut in their salary to compensate (or forgo benefits.) The numbers being big doesn't mean they shouldn't ask. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 20:50
  • @peterh 'That's not the way we do it here' isn't how progress is made. Yes, I'm aware that the US operates on an at-will basis, however I vigorously disagree that it's easy to get work - That typically takes months in my experience, which is a long time to go without income, and the situation in tech is worse for those who are in traditionally disadvantaged groups, such as those of us over 50. Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 20:54
-7

Why can’t you have laid off the less valuable employees?

5
  • And why -4 score? Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 16:59
  • 2
    Probably because (emphasis added): "I hope that we can count on you to do everything possible to ease their transition, beginning by not speculating as to who was cut and ‘why’" Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 10:32
  • @Zhaph-BenDuguid I am not asking why the employees that were laid off were laid off, I was asking what made them not choose other employees. Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 16:55
  • 6
    @TheEmptyStringPhotographer you chose a rather weird way to ask that. In particular, you're up front assigning a value to the remaining employees as "less"er than the ones that were laid off, which is surely a subjective measure of value that you personally hold rather than some specific metric that the company could realistically have used.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 16:58
  • That comes under the "why" part though. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 17:08
-19

The following will not be a question (as asked for in the initial question) but a commentary, even though, given the majority of the other responses, perhaps an unwelcome one.

I don't know any of you personally, but I am pretty sure almost all of you come from countries with a capitalist system of some sort in place. The fact that it is in place suggests, that a majority of people in your country - and, by extension, you - want to have this system. Otherwise you would have abolished it in one way or the other - elect parties which have abolition of capitalism on their agenda, start a revolution or whatever.

So, given that you prefer capitalism over other ways to organize production: a capitalist company has only a single goal: to make as much money as possible for its owners. Everything else is just means to an end - or outright folklore. A company dealing in tomatoes doesn't want everybody to have good tomatoes (even if their advertisements say so) but want to make money. Distributing and selling tomatoes are just the means to that end. If they find out that selling used toothpaste makes more money you can bet they switch products - their wish that everybody has good tomatoes notwithstanding.

I know, this introduction is getting long - but now I have reached the outcome stage:

This is your preferred system (capitalism) and this company works according to the laws this system has. If you go to a baseball match you don't get enraged if the teams play according to the rules of baseball and what follows from those. Why are you "disillusioned", "have lost trust" and all other sorts of things now? This company has always acted in the best interest of their profits - and for some time that meant having better customer support - and they continue to do so now.

Consider, just one example, all the banks who fired ("reduced", "right-sized", ...) their staff and replaced it with automats where basically you now do the work their staff used to do for you. Did they once say they valued you less as a customer, just because their service got lousier and lousier? No, they would never get tired to assure you how valuable you and your relationship to them are and how precious doing business with you is for them. But, alas, times are changing and they are, for crying out loud, forced to do what they have to ...

Does that sound familiar? Well, if it does, that is because it is. It is not only familiar, in fact it is absolutely the same.

You were - up to now - just in the lucky position not to feel the constrictions the system of production (capitalism) places on this specific company. Now you do. Would you have been not a customer of SE but a customer of a, say, grocery store, you would have noticed these constrictions long ago. Information technology was just so new that for a long time things were possible which aren't in other areas. Now, that IT has become a business like any other, the same rules apply.

Instead of "losing trust" you should lose your illusions aobut how a capitalist company in general - and this company in particular works. Actually, they have to work that way because the system is designed that way. Like in the example above: the baseball rules prescribe a certain way of playing it and if you don't follow this you are bound to lose game after game.

Conclusion You have several options: you can vote with your feet and move on to become customer of another provider - like you can switch banks or insurance companies if you are dissatisfied with their service. Whereever you will end up, though, the same basic rules and restrictions will apply and your experience might be gradually better (or maybe just better suited to your personal preferences) but fundamentally the same.

You can also rethink your stance towards the company you are customer of: I, for instance, like to write and answer questions about some topics (German language, music theory, English language, ...) and I appreciate when I can search for and get information here about topics I am interested in. I don't need any "community manager" or other interaction with the site to achieve these goals. I also don't need to build up "trust" or whatever. If they don't like me here any more they can cancel my account and I will go elsewhere. They can also take away my "privileges", I don't need them. If I would need to transcend my existence and leave a legacy I can reproduce or write a book. I don't need recognition as a "personality" here on a website.

30
  • 3
    I'm not sure if what I'm gonna say is relevant to your answer... but your answer reminds me of my friend's answer in Ask Ubuntu Meta which talks about commons. Please read it: meta.askubuntu.com/a/18387 Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 18:32
  • 24
    Many companies do not have a focus on making as much money as possible - they actually consider that the company and their people exist within a society at large that should be considered as well.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 20:20
  • 8
    That someone exists within a given... "capitalist system" or any other kind of system isn't evidence one supports such a system... and even if one does support it, that similarly doesn't mean they agree with pursuing actions blindly without any pause for considering consequences.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 17:23
  • 6
    Tell me how you really feel about Atlas Shrugged. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 17:57
  • 5
    I only skimmed your post, but my impression is "Capitalism is here. They're just doing capitalism. DEAL WITH IT or go somewhere else" and ... kinda? But that's a gross oversimplification. I agree they have to monetize and budget to survive (whether under capitalism, socialism, communism, or any money-driven economy), but umm ... that doesn't mean they have to be opaque, and it doesn't mean they have to be deaf to their community's (customers') concerns.
    – Reed
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 18:29
  • 1
    Re "become customer of another provider": That presumes that there are viable alternatives. I don't think there is. Either they lack the network effect or they are not real alternatives. Quora is roamed by AI moderation bots of unspecified IQ (and is not a real alternative anyway). DEV is infested with blatant plagiarism. - Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 20:17
  • 1
    cont' - The Code Project lacks the network effect. Codidact is lacking the network effect. Reddit, maybe? Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 20:17
  • "I live in North Korea and other failed states" and being fluent in German is a rare combination. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 20:53
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum: I was asked where I live and "I live in North Korea" was my way of saying "This is none of your business". If there are "no viable alternatives" then this should - according to the many people bemoaning the state of affairs - be a great opportunity to start such an alternative. Most probably, though, all the outcry will result in ultimately people accepting the status quo and if that is the case then management has done the right thing - why spend money on CR if the people accept it being missing.
    – bakunin
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 23:34
  • @Reed: I have only skimmed your reply, but from what I have not read I think you are mistaken. Are we now on a par of ignoring each other?
    – bakunin
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 23:36
  • 1
    You seem to have unrealistic expectations of people. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and critique inaction.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 0:33
  • 1
    @KevinB: Why do I have "unrealistic expectations"? My prediction is that a lot off people will write here, vent their frustration, then continue to visit the site like nothing has happened. They just downvote what I wrote because they don't like to have that inaction pointed out to them. I disturbed their illusion of being well-meaning, socially active, community oriented, bla, yada, .... - which they aren't. If you want to change things, then work on that change - or accept that things are as they are. I wasn't the one raging all over about the evil management and their sinister plan.
    – bakunin
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 0:44
  • 1
    Patagonia. REI. Ben & Jerry. Three well known companies.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 0:56
  • 1
    I used capitalism, Adam Smith, invisible hand as arguments many times. The community answer was always massive downvotes, and hostile comment which clearly did not understand the post. I believe, you might think in capitalism but they do not. Because they do not understand what is it.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 20:31
  • 2
    Given that many of the complaints are roughly "the company is spending money on things that will not help their product succeed and not spending money on far cheaper things that will", it is hard to see how this is inherent to a capitalist system. Surely a capitalist would want to do the cheaper, more effective things.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 2:52
-28

To the downvoters, first I would suggest to think about a bit, what had you done if you needed to pay their salary every month. Note: if you live in a better part of the world, their salary is about twice of yours. (Source: glassdoor.com ) In lesser developed regions, they might earn 20 times more.

The people laid off were working for a company in a region with one of the best job options of the world, and their CV starts now with a well known name. You have absolutely no reason to fear for them.

Do not think that they had any problem to find a new job or a new living.

Second, the people laid off now, they were once also employed by the company. It could happened only because the company has seen good representants of its ideas and values in them.

You, dear community, have just voted these ideas and values with a -177 score. Being fired by the company, that does not mean that they had followed so much different ideas and values as the company, it only means that the company had no money for their salary.

And, as many of you point to that in other answers, exactly these ideas and values has lead the company to this financial situation.

18
  • 14
    Do you expect people to upvote the news that people have lost their job? Do you find it useful that one of the spokespeople doesn't even have a stackexchange profile? Do you agree with the statement that the "community isn't going anywhere"?
    – Sayse
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 11:35
  • @Sayse 1) No. But I expect them to understand, they live better without a job as most downvoters with it. 2) and 3): No. But I am here since 11 years and I have found here the most evil internet community ever. That is the fault of the community, of the company, and of the now fired guys, too. I you would say that the company is evil, that I would fully agree - problem is that the SE community and the fired guys are evil, too.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 14:15
  • 13
    you're conflating things here. the people who were laid off made up part of the company, yes, but when you refer to the decision made by the company that decision was not made by the people who were laid off. the decision was made by upper leadership. people are upset by what leadership did, not what the laid off employees did
    – intcreator
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 19:46
  • @intcreator Yes, people were fired because the upper leadership wanted it so. That is evidential, and that is irrelevant. I only say, that the company is evil, its employee (at least the ones I could know) were not lesser evil, and so also the community collected here is very, very, very evil. In my opinion, the SE community is the worst internet community in this sense, and I am not alone with this opinion. This is why SE is losing to the ChatGPT and to google. On these reasons, I can not feel sad for the laid off guys. Note, the barely covered hostility is well visible also in your comment.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 19:58
  • @intcreator If you would like to at least understand, why people have a critical tone to this site, company and community, I suggest take a look here.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 21, 2023 at 7:41
  • 10
    It does not appear to me as if answers were concerned mainly with the people who were laid off. (I guess we can all agree that being laid off sucks, and also that even in the current job market, which is not as rosy as it was a while ago, these particular people have a good chance of landing on their feet.) Rather, people seem to be concerned with the effects of the layoffs on the community. Of course we don't know why people voted on the original post, but my guess would be that again, it's for the likely impact on the community. So I think you may be barking up the wrong tree. Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 5:05
  • @StephanKolassa I think, that is nothing unusual what has happened, and there is nothing unusual in the attitude of the company to us. Possibly they also overestimate the quality decrease of the life of the fired guys, again I would point to glassdoor.
    – peterh
    Commented Oct 22, 2023 at 7:23
  • @intcreator I reformulated the second part. I think the logic is clear but not obvious, so I added more details.
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 5, 2023 at 9:46
  • 5
    "The company had no money for their salary" citation needed
    – Conrado
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 11:38
  • @Conrado Can you imagine any other reason of a mass layoff? Btw, I see no reason to dig out references for you, because it is clearly visible that it won't change anything.
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 12:55
  • 4
    Yes, I can, but there is no need to imagine: the CEO's blog post states that the company is focusing "on a path to profitability" and "taking steps to spend less". First, however, it mentions "monumental efforts to successfully launch OverflowAI", which is hardly possible if the company has no money for salaries.
    – Conrado
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 14:57
  • @Conrado These are unrelated. Instead of hair-splitting, nitpicking, just read the other answers and tease them. I think our talk ends now.
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 16:57
  • "what had you done if you needed to pay their salary every month" - I would start by not hiring way too many sales people if I can't afford them. I would also start by not investing in AI Products when my clients don't like AI. I would also start by not selling the company to Prosus, so I could keep my management autonomy.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 23:58
  • [Cont] - Layoffs like those can happen, but on the Stack Overflow's case it is transparent that what happened was a major management fumble. We are upset with the layoffs because something on the business plan of the company had a major issue that ended up causing this horrible situation.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 0:00
  • We had several cases of companies hiring too much and them having to downsize greatly a soon afterwards because they overshoot hiring way before the hiring spree on Stack Overflow took place. Management was either overconfident, incompetent, or outright malicious (by aiming at the prosus sale and nothing more). We aren't upset because this situation happened. We are upset because of the "whys" this situation happened.
    – T. Sar
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 0:03
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