Most WordPress professionals managed to escape 2022’s round of tech layoffs, which primarily affected venture capital-funded startups and larger companies that had overhired during the economic upswing that came with pandemic precautions being lifted in many places. Mass layoffs hit Meta, Peleton, Stripe, Carvana, and more during the last half of 2022.
Tech layoffs have continued relentlessly in 2023, with major players like PayPal, Spotify, Google, Microsoft, Coinbase, Salesforce, and Amazon cutting tens of thousands of workers in January. This round of layoffs seems more brutal than the last, as it hits more close to home for WordPress professionals.
Layoffs.fyi, a layoffs tracking website, has logged 376 tech companies with total of 107,930 employees laid off. Both the number of companies and number of employees laid off in January were the highest they have been over the past year.
Last week, GoDaddy announced it will be reducing the size of its global team by about 8% (approximately 530 employees), with cuts that hit teams working on WordPress and WooCommerce hosting products.
“Despite increasingly challenging macroeconomic conditions, we made progress on our 2022 strategic initiatives and continued our efforts to manage costs effectively,” GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani. “The discipline we embraced was important but, unfortunately, it was not sufficient to avoid the impacts of slower growth in a prolonged, uncertain macroeconomic environment.”
The layoffs came as a surprise to GoDaddy employees, after they had been assured the company would not be cutting jobs. A few days after employees were let go, the company reported significant growth in its last earnings call, with a total revenue of $4.1 billion in 2022, up 7.2% year-over-year, and 8.4% on a constant currency basis.
A former GoDaddy employee, who was impacted by the layoffs and wishes to remain anonymous, said “employees and their managers were blindsided.” They were offered approximately three months of severance pay plus two weeks severance per year of tenure.
“The severance package was average at best – a few months of runway in exchange for releasing GoDaddy from all liability,” the source said. “It’s the minimum requirement to get people to sign legal releases. Items such as stock that wasn’t fully vested must be forfeited.”
The source reported that the employees who were laid off were cherry-picked from different teams. Despite GoDaddy’s heavy investments into WordPress and recent acquisitions of the Skyverge and Pagely brands, the company elected to downsize many who were active in its WordPress efforts.
“I’m seeing lots of WordPress-related product/marketing folks getting cut,” the source said.
DigitalOcean, which acquired managed hosting company Cloudways for $350 million in cash last year, told staff it is laying off 11 percent of its workforce, approximately 200 employees. The Register reports that 100 employees were immediately let go and another 100 will follow. The cuts include members of the company’s content team, causing concern about the future of the company’s documentation resources.
Larger tech companies are not the only ones reducing their workforces. The economic conditions behind these cuts are also affecting smaller organizations like XWP, a WordPress agency that laid off employees two months ago. Human Made, an agency that builds WordPress sites and products for enterprise customers, has also been affected. The company recently announced a round of redundancies for the first time in its history.
“This has been a tough few weeks, particularly for those leaving who now face an uncertain future,” Human Made CEO and co-founder Tom Willmot said. “It’s also been tough for the rest of company, this is not [a] situation we wanted to be in and even with the wider economic headwinds the industry is facing, there are also important lessons for us to learn.”
As part of its commitment to transparency, Human Made also published the details of its redundancy support package, which includes a minimum notice period of four weeks plus one week for each year past two, and two weeks pay on top of notice, among other benefits.
WordPress product companies are stepping up to help people find new work. Easily Amused, Trew Knowledge, SiteCare, and other companies across Twitter, Mastodon, and LinkedIn have responded to posts with links to open positions. Michelle Frechette, Director of Community Engagement at StellarWP, publishes a weekly thread with available jobs from around the WordPress community. Her most recent thread from last week includes information on 10 companies that are currently hiring.