- Amazon saw its largest job cuts in the company’s history in early 2023.
- The e-commerce company has had several rounds of layoffs over the years.
- Here is a timeline of Amazon’s layoffs and hiring freezes.
Early this year, Amazon saw the largest job cuts in its history when it laid off 18,000 workers in January.
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Amazon was just one of many tech companies doing layoffs, resulting from shifts in economic conditions, organization restructuring, cost cutting, and broader strategic decisions.
Most of Amazon’s 1.5 million employees work in warehouses, but some of the company’s layoffs affected jobs in its corporate operations. The company has also implemented hiring freezes alongside some of the layoffs.
Here is a timeline of Amazon’s layoffs and hiring freezes.
Amid the dot-com bubble burst and resulting economic downturn, Amazon laid off about 1,300 employees, or 15% of its workforce, to cut costs. Although the company’s net sales were increasing over time, the first few years were hard to make a profit. In 2001, the company also closed a Georgia distribution center and a Seattle customer-service office to try to turn a profit by the end of the year.
Amazon closed three distribution centers in Nevada, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, which eliminated 210 jobs.
Amazon shut down Quidsi, an e-commerce company it acquired in 2010, because it wasn’t profitable. The closure resulted in more than 260 layoffs. Quidsi was the parent company of sites such as Diapers.com and Soap.com.
The shutdown also carried some weight for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his longtime rival Marc Lore, who founded Quidsi and was then CEO of US commerce for Walmart.
Quidsi was acquired after a vicious price war between Lore’s company and Bezos’ Amazon. Eventually, Quidsi couldn’t raise more investment capital, and Lore sold the company to Amazon. Lore and his cofounder, Vinit Bharara, made a lot of money in the deal but left Amazon in 2013, not long after their contractual mandate to work at the company once the acquisition ended.
A year after Amazon acquired Whole Foods, the grocery chain announced it would lay off its marketing staff in a leaked conference call.
In a recording of a seven-minute conference call, Nicole Wescoe, the president of Whole Foods’ northeast region, announced the cuts.
Wescoe said the position of store graphic artist and all regional marketing office positions below associate coordinator would be terminated. The cuts were companywide.
Amazon announced it would pause hiring new corporate workers for the next few months, citing an “unusual macro-economic environment.” Soon after, the company would lay off roughly 10,000 employees. The cuts would mainly affect Amazon’s devices, human resources, and retail divisions.
The public Amazon memo said the e-comm giant still intended to hire a “meaningful” number of employees in 2023, highlighting business segments such as Prime Video, Alexa, and grocery.
Amazon laid off 18,000 employees in the largest job cut in the company’s history, with most of the layoffs coming in the company’s Amazon Stores and People Experience and Technology Solutions divisions.
CEO Andy Jassy cited an “uncertain economy” and rapid hiring as reasons for the layoffs.
While most of the company’s 1.5 million employees work in warehouses, the layoffs had so far been concentrated in Amazon’s corporate groups at that point.
More than 300 Zappos jobs were also cut.
Amazon layoffs eliminated another 9,000 employees as the company continued to cut costs.
“Some may ask why we didn’t announce these role reductions with the ones we announced a couple months ago,” Jassy wrote in a memo to staff. “The short answer is that not all of the teams were done with their analyses in the late fall; and rather than rush through these assessments without the appropriate diligence, we chose to share these decisions as we’ve made them so people had the information as soon as possible. The same is true for this note as the impacted teams are not yet finished making final decisions on precisely which roles will be impacted.”
Several hundred corporate Whole Foods employees were laid off in a reorganization to streamline the grocer’s regional and global structures.
The cuts are set to affect global support teams and employees who manage the grocery chain’s regional operations. The layoffs were part of a reorganization that would take place over the next two months, according to a memo. A Whole Foods spokesperson said the cuts would affect “less than half of a percent” of Whole Foods’ global workforce.
Amazon Fresh laid off hundreds of store workers in “zone lead” roles who manage specific sections of the grocery stores. The company told workers that the layoffs resulted from cost cuts at the chain.
“Like any retailer, we periodically assess our stores’ organizational needs and make decisions to increase efficiencies for our employees and deliver customer value,” Jessica Martin, an Amazon spokesperson, said. “As a result, we’ve decided to evolve our in-store staffing and operations model to better serve our customers and teams.”