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Amazon Ups Layoffs To 18,000

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in 2016, when he was head of Amazon Web Services.

The world’s largest online retailer also is planning the U.S. tech industry’s biggest round of layoffs to date.

Amazon plans to cut more than 18,000 jobs this year as the retailer faced an “uncertain economy,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a memo Wednesday night. “We don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted."

Jassy said most of the headcount cuts would come from its consumer retail business and human resources. While the layoffs only represent 1% of Amazon’s global workforce — which spans some 350,000 corporate employees — it remains the single largest mass layoff announcement since tech companies began making large headcount cuts last year, Bloomberg reported.

Earlier this week, Salesforce announced it plans to cut 10% of its workforce, and Facebook’s parent, Metaannounced plans to lay off 11,000 employees in November. In all, tech-driven companies have been cutting staff at a rate faster than any time during the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Amazon’s cuts also are capping more than a year of Jassy leading the company after founder Jeff Bezos stepped down to become Amazon’s executive chairman in July 2021. Under Jassy's leadership, Amazon’s stock (which had already been split) reached a high of more than $183 per share in November 2021. It has since dropped to a value below $90 per share this month.

The stock performance has at least one analyst questioning whether Bezos would return to the CEO role in an attempt to reverse corporate performance.

Earlier this week, lenders including Mizuho Bank and National Westminster Bank handed Amazon an $8B, 364-day term loan with the possibility to extend for an additional 364 days, Retail Dive reported

“Given the uncertain macroeconomic environment, over the last few months we have used different financing options to support capital expenditures, debt repayments, acquisitions and working capital needs,” an Amazon spokesperson told Retail Dive.

Amazon has been cutting back on expenditures over the past year. The retailer shuttered experimental or unprofitable business divisions, including telehealth service and delivery robot plans, according to Bloomberg. And after a massive run-up of industrial leasing during the pandemic, Amazon has begun to scale back its use of warehouses, subleasing more than 10M SF across its portfolio

“Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so,” Jassy wrote. “These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure.”