Spate of job cuts continues unabated at Big Tech, media firms

DocuSign DOCU, -8.45% said Tuesday it will reduce its workforce by 6% to support its growth. The San Francisco document services company plans to take restructuring charges of $28 million to $32 million in the quarter. Based on the 7,336 employees disclosed in DocuSign’s 2023 annual report, the job reduction will affect about 440 people. DocuSign said the majority of the job cuts are in its sales and marketing unit. DocuSign said the job cuts will help “strengthen and support the company’s financial and operational efficiency.” It’s the latest in a series of job cuts in various industries. DocuSign’s stock was down 4% in premarket trading.
Big Tech and media companies in the United States continue to announce fresh job cuts, a sign that the spate of layoffs seen in 2023 could persist as firms grapple with economic uncertainty.
Here are some of the job cuts announced by tech and media companies.
AMAZON (AMZN.O), opens a new tab
Jan. 18 - The Buy with Prime unit laying off less than 5% of its employees.
Jan. 11 - Audiobook and podcast division Audible laying off 5% of its workforce, according to a memo from the head of the division.
Jan. 10 - Amazon set to lay off several hundred employees in its streaming and studio operations, extending job cuts into 2024.
Jan. 9 - Streaming unit Twitch to cut 35% of its staff, or about 500 workers, as reported by Bloomberg News.
ALPHABET (GOOGL.O), opens a new tab
Jan. 22 - X Lab, Alphabet's division for developing new technology, laying off dozens of workers and turning to outside investors for funding.
Jan. 16 - Google, part of Alphabet, laying off hundreds of employees in its advertising sales team.
Jan. 11 - Google laid off hundreds of people across teams, including the hardware team responsible for Pixel, Nest, and Fitbit, and the majority of those in the augmented reality team.


Jan. 30 - Comcast-owned (CMCSA.O), opens new tab British media group Sky plans to cut about 1,000 jobs across its businesses this year, a source familiar with the development told Reuters, as it transitions to internet-based services from traditional satellite ones.
SNAP (SNAP.N), opens new tab
Feb. 5 - Snap plans to cut around 528 jobs, or 10% of its global workforce.
SALESFORCE (CRM.N), opens new tab
Jan. 26 - Salesforce laying off about 700 employees, roughly 1% of its global workforce, according to the Wall Street Journal.
MICROSOFT (MSFT.O), opens new tab
Jan. 25 - Microsoft set to lay off 1,900 employees at Activision Blizzard and Xbox.
PARAMOUNT GLOBAL (PARA.O), opens new tab
Jan. 25 - Paramount Global plans an unspecified number of layoffs, and aims to become a leaner organization.


Jan. 25 - Business Insider plans to lay off around 8% of its staff, according to CEO Barbara Peng.
IBM (IBM.N), opens new tab
Jan. 24 - IBM plans to lay off some employees in 2024, but will hire more for AI-centered roles, making it likely it will end the year with its headcount unchanged.
AURORA INNOVATION (AUR.O), opens new tab
Jan. 24 - Autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation said it had cut 3% of its workforce as part of a reorganization exercise.
EBAY (EBAY.O), opens new tab
Jan. 23 - eBay plans to cut about 1,000 roles or around 9% of its current workforce.


Jan. 23 - The Los Angeles Times plans to lay off 94 journalists who are members of the newspaper's union.
WALT DISNEY (DIS.N), opens new tab
Jan. 11 - Pixar Animation Studios, part of Walt Disney, set to cut jobs after completing production on some shows and having more staff than needed.
UNITY SOFTWARE (U.N), opens new tab
Jan. 8 - Videogame software provider Unity Software plans to lay off approximately 25% of its workforce, to cut around 1,800 jobs.

 The at-home genetic testing company 23andMe suffered a significant breach, potentially exposing the sensitive genetic and personal information of millions of individuals. This security incident caused a drastic drop in the company's stock value and led to multiple class-action lawsuits. The CEO, Anne Wojcicki, has been criticized for her handling of the company's security and privacy practices. Additionally, the company has faced scrutiny over its business practices and handling of genetic data, including past regulatory violations. Despite these challenges, the company has attracted significant investment and partnerships, but questions remain about its profitability and ethical standards.  

The U.S. government on Monday announced that a labor rights mediation plan at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co (GT.O), opens new tab plant in Mexico has delivered $4.2 million in back pay to more than 1,300 current and former workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office said the successful conclusion of their "rapid response" labor rights challenge under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade also resulted in immediate wage gains for most workers at the plant through a reclassification of job categories in line with a sector-wide labor agreement.
USTR brought the challenge last May under the trade deal's factory-specific provisions to combat denials of labor rights, such as electing new unions.
A remediation plan for Goodyear's San Luis Potosi factory, which employs about 1,150 workers making vehicle tires, was agreed in July by Goodyear, and the U.S. and Mexican governments, including providing back pay to eligible workers for "failure to apply" the sector-wide labor contract.
"We look forward to seeing the union-management relationship mature and deepen at Goodyear San Luis Potosi, and throughout Mexico's rubber industry as the sector-wide agreement is implemented throughout the country," Labor Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee said in a statement.
 Australian carrier Qantas (QAN.AX), opens new tab will head to the country's Fair Work Commission on Monday to seek arbitration in a pay-related dispute with its pilots at a subsidiary in Western Australia who have voted down a new enterprise deal three times.
Network Aviation, which conducts charter operations for the resources sector, will make an "intractable bargaining application" to the Commission after 18 months of failed negotiations.
Network Aviation pilots are represented by three major workers' unions, which include the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots (AFAP), the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
The pilots will strike for 24 hours later this week, and the airline's move to seek arbitration comes after they voted down the two most recent proposed agreements despite backing from the unions.
"It is disappointing that as we've advised the AFAP of our intention to apply for the Fair Work Commission to assist with arbitration, the union has notified us it plans to take industrial action," a Network Aviation spokesperson told Reuters in an email statement.
About 57% voted down the third proposed agreement, which offered pay increases of more than 25% coupled with new allowances for pilots, Network Aviation said.
The AFAP said in a statement on its website that it gave Network Aviation a notice of the work stoppage starting midnight on Thursday, Feb. 8.
"Network pilots' pay and conditions are significantly inferior to that of other pilots at Qantas and comparable airlines," AFAP Senior Industrial Officer Chris Aikens said in the statement.
"The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating and trying to reach an agreement with Qantas management, but the company remains unwilling to revisit its inflexible wages policy instituted under the former CEO."
 Toyota Motor (7203.T), opens new tab and raised its full-year operating profit forecast by nearly 9% on Tuesday after higher sales volumes and a weaker yen boosted its third-quarter results.
The world's top-selling automaker raised its profit forecast for the current year to 4.9 trillion yen ($32.99 billion), versus 4.5 trillion expected previously.
The higher target contrasts with the downbeat outlook provided by many of its rivals who have warned of slowing sales growth and announced production cuts this year due to high interest rates and slowing demand for electric vehicles.
Toyota's operating profit for the three months to Dec. 31 totaled 1.68 trillion yen, up 75.7% from 956.7 billion yen a year earlier and beating the average 1.3 trillion yen profit estimate in a poll of nine analysts by LSEG.
Toyota, a laggard in battery-powered EVs, is seen outperforming competitors this year, helped by robust demand for hybrid vehicles, which it pioneered more than a quarter century ago with the Prius model.
Hybrids accounted for around one-third of the total sales of more than 10 million vehicles of its Toyota and luxury Lexus brands last year.
It retained its crown as the world's top-selling automaker for the fourth consecutive year after posting record annual sales of 11.2 million vehicles for 2023.
However, the firm is grappling with a series of scandals at its group companies over product certification test procedures that threaten to hurt its reputation for quality and safety.
Toyota's chairman apologized last week for the inconvenience and concern caused by misconduct at two subsidiaries and an affiliate.
 A sell-off in regional U.S. bank stocks triggered by New York Community Bancorp last week has brought the group's exposure to commercial real estate (CRE) into focus for analysts and investors alike.
The industry has grappled with looming losses on CRE loan books since early 2023, as the sector faced the twin challenges of financing difficulties amid high-interest rates and lower office occupancy due to the widespread adoption of remote work.
Investors fear weak demand for offices could trigger a wave of defaults and put pressure on banks and other lenders, which are hoping to avoid selling CRE loans at significant discounts.
The CRE worries extend across the banking sector, with several giants including Wells Fargo WFC.N shoring up rainy-day funds over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, smaller lenders have sought to reduce the risk by raising their loan loss provisions and shedding these portfolios through sales to private equity firms.
Here is the commercial real estate exposure of some prominent U.S. regional banks:
BankAssetsCRE concentration ratio as of Q3 2023Construction concentration ratio as of Q3 2023
New York Community Bancorp's (NYCB.N) subsidiary, Flagstar Bank$116.3 bln477%30%
Valley National Bancorp (VLY.O)$61.18 bln472%66%
Columbia Banking Systems' (COLB.O) Umpqua Bank$52.17 bln323%58%
Bank OZK (OZK.O)$34.24 bln345%200%
City National Bank of Florida$26.14 bln310%46%
BCI Financial Group$26.05 bln309%46%
WaFd (WAFD.O) subsidiary, Washington Federal Bank$22.64 bln371%113%
Axos Financial (AX.N)$20.83 bln356%135%
Pacific Premier Bancorp (PPBI.O)$20.28 bln312%17%
Independent Bank Corp$19.37 bln302%45%
* Note: Data as of the third quarter of 2023
* CRE concentration ratio refers to the extent to which a bank's loan portfolio consists of commercial and multifamily mortgages
* Source: Real estate data provider Trepp, using a combination of bank SEC filings and call sheets

While the U.S. economy is broadly healthy, pockets of Americans have run through their savings and run up their credit card balances after battling inflation for more than two years.

Experts worry that members of these groups -- mostly lower- and middle-income Americans, who tend to be renters -- are falling behind on their debts and could face further deterioration of their financial health in the year ahead, particularly those who have recently resumed paying off student loans.

“The U.S. economy is currently performing better than most forecasters expected a year ago, thanks in large part to a resilient consumer,” wrote Shernette McLoud, an economist with TD Economics, in a report issued Wednesday. “However, more recently that spending is increasingly being financed by credit cards.”

Americans held more than $1.05 trillion on their credit cards in the third quarter of 2023, a record, and a figure certain to grow once the fourth-quarter data is released by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. next month. A recent report from the credit rating company Moody’s showed that credit card delinquency rates and charge-off rates, or the percent of loans that a bank believes will never be repaid, are now well above their 2019 levels and are expected to keep climbing.

These worrisome metrics coincide with the average interest rate on a bank credit card of roughly 21.5%, the highest it’s been since the Federal Reserve started tracking the data in 1994.

“Overall, the consumer is credit healthy. However, the reality is that there are starting to be some significant signs of stress,” said Silvio Tavares, president and CEO of VantageScore, one of the country’s two major credit scoring systems.

Most analyses of Americans’ financial health tend to tell a tale of two consumers. On one side are the roughly two-thirds of Americans who own their homes and those who’ve invested in the stock market and done substantially well. They generally had the savings cushion necessary to weather high inflation. Delinquency rates on single-family homes remain at near historic lows and home prices have continued to climb.

But for the rest of America, things are looking rough.

“You have these noticeable pockets of consumers -- mostly middle- and lower-income renters who have not benefitted from the wealth effect of higher housing prices and stock prices -- who are feeling financial stress and that’s driving up these delinquency levels. They’ve been hit very hard by inflation,” said Warren Kornfeld, a senior vice president at Moody’s, in an interview.

Kornfeld, who co-wrote a report last week looking at the climbing levels of delinquencies, expects them to keep climbing this year.

Consumers’ financial health could play a big role in the 2024 election. President Joe Biden is running in part on his efforts to bring down costs for U.S. families. Republicans counter that Biden is to blame for higher costs in the first place.

One way to gauge this bifurcation of the American economy is by looking at the results of some major credit card companies. The customers of Capital One, Discover Financial, and Synchrony have historically been those with lower credit scores, while American Express typically serves the wealthiest and well-to-do.

At Synchrony Bank, the largest issuer of retail co-brand credit cards, the charge-off rate jumped from 3.5% to 5.6% in a year. Meanwhile, roughly 4.7% of Synchrony customers are 30 days or more behind on their bills, which is also up from a year ago.

Discover’s customers are carrying $102 billion in balances on their credit cards, up 13% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the charge-off rates and 30-day delinquency rates have climbed. Executives say they can see the impact of inflation.

“Think about a consumer that makes $50,000 a year,” said John Green, Discover’s chief financial officer, at an investor conference in December. “When inflation outpaces your wage growth, they’re making choices in terms of what they’re going to spend, what bill they’re going to pay and what they’re going to frankly put on their table.”

Inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 and is now slightly above 3%. But the costs of many goods and services remain elevated. A loaf of bread that cost $1.54 in December 2020 cost $2.02 at the end of last year, and a gallon of gas has risen from an average of $2.17 to $3.29 in the same timeframe, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Renters in particular have felt the pinch. The median rent for a property with up to two bedrooms has jumped from $1,424 at the end of 2020 to $1,713 at the end of last year, according to

VantageScore’s Tavares worries that the recent reintroduction of student loan payments could more acutely impact these customers in their ability to repay their debts.

“Folks are scrambling to pay these obligations that they haven’t had to pay in three years, and it’s hitting exactly the demographic we are talking about here: the younger folk, less affluent folk,” Tavares said.

American Express has also seen its charge-offs and delinquencies climb in the past year, but not as much as its competitors. Historically, AmEx has catered to customers with higher credit scores who pay off their cards at the end of each month. But even AmEx customers are now carrying a balance more regularly. AmEx’s net charge-off rate last quarter was 2%, up from 1.2% a year earlier.

In the middle of the spectrum are JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, two gigantic banks with large portfolios of customers. Their credit metrics have ticked up only modestly, likely because the banks’ clients run the gamut of income levels and credit scores. But both banks have been setting more money aside to cover potential loan losses, mostly due to their credit card portfolios.

It’s unlikely that Americans will see any relief from the banks or interest rates any time soon that would allow them to refinance these high-interest debts. The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that its first interest rate cut is likely months away. Further, credit card interest rates tend to be extremely high compared to what the Fed charges for loans.

Further, reports on bank industry sentiment show that banks are being more conservative in giving out loans, which means it will be less likely that these Americans will be able to refinance their high credit card bills into lower-interest loans.

Economists at the moment feel the financial strain felt by these lower-income Americans is not likely to spill over broadly into the broader economy, at least at the moment. However economists and experts see these rising delinquencies as one of the growing risks to the economy this year, especially if student loans become too much for younger, debt-burdened Americans to handle.

“Rising delinquencies, while they do require monitoring, are not quite sounding alarm bells,” TD Economics’ McLeod wrote in their report.

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