In what is being spun as a “rare move,” Amazon is confirming published reports of mass layoffs – approximately 500 employees working mostly in the consumer-retail division including several hundred employees at its Seattle, Washington headquarters.
Industry pundits believe that this is little more than a corporate realignment to address past performance issues, overstaffing, and additional costs related to Amazon’s rapid growth. Additional measures include a hiring freeze in some areas and lateral employee shifts within the organization. Something to be expected after eight years of accelerated growth that saw the headcount at headquarters grow from 5,000 employees in 2010 to over 40,000 currently. Due to Amazon’s amazing stock price, acquisitions appear to be happening at a faster pace and include traditional bricks-and-mortar companies like Whole Foods. It would not surprise anyone if Amazon went big-box to compete directly with Walmart and Costco.
Putting these layoffs in perspective, they are less onerous than those of Microsoft or IBM.
Amazon continues to put pressure on cities to outdo their tax and other incentives to capture the location of Amazon’s second North American headquarters (HQ2) which will mean up to 50,000 jobs. According to Amazon, the following cities are under consideration: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County (Maryland), Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.. According to an industry consensus, the most likely city will be one of the following: Atlanta, Raleigh, Washington D.C., Boston, or Austin.
Considerations beyond taxes, personnel availability, and cost of living, may include additional political factors such as Bezos owning the Washington Post and wanting to increase his influence in political circles. Perhaps as a consolidated purchasing solution for the government and its massive bureaucracy.