Who’s Firing? (Qualcomm, GoPro, and IBM—Again) Who’s Hiring? (Facebook, Apple, Amazon)

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IBM rains down layoff notices while Amazon hires a host of Alexa engineers—in India

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In what has practically turned into an annual sign of spring,
IBM
rained layoff notices down on its tech workforce in late March and again in April. According to waves of anecdotal reports posted online at
TheLayoff.com
and
Watching IBM
, workers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands were hit starting March 29 with 90 days’ notice.

This time, it wasn’t just workers over 50 years old who were targeted (though the bulk of reports did seem to come from people in that age group); many in their 40s reported getting notices as well. And a few relatively new hires indicated that they, also, were hit by the April cuts; one has to wonder if this broader swing of the ax was in reaction to the ProPublica/Mother Jones report that past IBM layoffs overwhelmingly targeted older workers.

The size of IBM’s 2018 layoffs are hard to determine.
As usual, IBM made no official announcement, and, when contacted by
The Register
, did not address the layoffs directly, but said

that it had just announced a plan with French president Emmanuel Macron to open a new artificial intelligence research center in France that will create 400 new jobs.

After past layoffs, IBM typically made a statement about workforce rebalancing to focus on Watson, cloud, and analytics. That’s not likely to happen this time;

cuts hit those operations

as well.

Most other companies announce layoffs before they happen. The following is not by any means a comprehensive list of those announcements made so far in 2018, but includes the major layoffs at tech companies and a snapshot of a few that are smaller, but still significant:


  • Qualcomm

    this month announced that in June it will lay off
    1,231
    employees in San Diego and 269 in Silicon Valley.


  • Sigma Designs
    , based in Fremont, announced in January that it would lay off
    300
    out of 416 employees in its smart television and set top box operations as it sells off its various businesses.


  • GoPro
    in January announced plans to cut
    254
    staff members, mostly engineers working on drones.


  • Intel


    this month announced that it is shutting down its New Devices Group. The team had about
    200
    employees; no word on how many will be moved to other jobs in the corporation, but Intel has said there will be some layoffs.


  • Snap
    in March confirmed rumors of layoffs, indicating it was cutting
    120
    -plus engineers. Later that month, the company reported that 100 sales jobs were also being eliminated.



  • Pandora



    indicated in January that it will cut its workforce by five percent; that’s over
    100
    employees. It’s not clear how many tech jobs were affected.


  • Gigamon


    in February announced it was going to cut
    74
    staff members by the end of June, including hardware and software engineers as well as human resources professionals.


  • Lenovo


    cut
    200
    employees
    from its Motorola smartphone team in Chicago—that’s nearly half the group.
    HTC

    also cut its U.S. smartphone operations in Bellevue and Seattle by between a few dozen to
    100
    people, according to
    Digital Trends
    .

  • And finally, a relatively small cut with perhaps an outsize significance: cloud-software company
    Lanetix
    , based in San Francisco, in January cut
    14
    software engineers—10 days after employees filed for union representation. The union, the Communications Workers of America, has submitted a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board.

It’s not all news about job cuts. By sheer numbers, announcements of hiring pushes dwarfed announcements of cuts.


  • Facebook
    in March announced that it would be hiring
    5,000
    cybersecurity professionals by year end—at least, it intends to try. Software engineers who specialize in cybersecurity are generally in high demand and short supply.


  • Apple
    is throwing a lot of resources at making Siri more intelligent. According to Thinknum Media
    , the company in March was recruiting for
    161
    Siri-related jobs, 154 of them in software engineering. The rest were listed as infrastructure engineers, machine learning engineers, and natural language processing engineers. It’s also beefing up hardware engineering jobs in general, according to Thinknum, and as of February was actively recruiting for
    1,198
    positions.


  • Amazon
    aims to make Alexa smarter as well, recruiting

    1,100
    engineers in India to work on speech and language data processing and
    125
    in Pittsburgh. The company is also listing nearly
    300
    job openings at its Silicon Valley R&D operation, many of them in robotics, leading Bloomberg to speculate that the company is ramping up efforts to build a domestic robot.

  • Meanwhile,
    Spotify
    has been recruiting hardware and manufacturing engineers, according to The Guardian
    . The company is only advertising a couple of positions, but the move, said The Guardian, indicates that it will likely soon have its own streaming music and home control product to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod.

  • Outside of the U.S.,
    BT

    announced that it will add
    3,000
    engineering jobs in an effort to upgrade the United Kingdom to gigabit speed internet. 

  • Irish semiconductor company
    DecaWave

    indicated that it will add
    100
    jobs around the world; that triples its workforce.



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