It would be easy to think that when Salesforce announced that it was laying off 10% of the workforce in January that it would let those folks know, and it would be over with — but some employees didn’t learn about their fate until February. It looks like still more are just learning they have been laid off, according to an Insider report, and confirmed by LinkedIn posts.
Salesforce confirmed that these layoffs were part of the 10%, but had no additional comment on the matter.
The latest round appears to be hitting go-to-market roles in sales and marketing, with one woman on LinkedIn saying she learned she had been laid off from an email that her job had been eliminated. As the third wave of layoffs washes over the company, it’s not clear why Salesforce is conducting the notices in this drip fashion, leaving employees who were laid off distraught, as the LinkedIn posts attest, and presumably leaving those still there wondering if they could be next.
When CEO and chairman Marc Benioff was asked about the layoffs and how he handled them in an interview with Kara Swisher last week at Upfront Summit, he said he was trying to be upfront with his employees in the all-hands announcing the layoffs in January.
“I’m a lead-from-the-front kind of person, you know that. I’m not afraid to get on an all-hands call for two hours and it was tough because you’re having to explain the unexplainable, and yes, exactly what you said, we don’t have lifetime employment,” he said.
When asked how this fits with his Ohana (the Hawaiian word for family) philosophy, he insisted that his employees were like family and that he was working to place employees who had been let go. He went on to say that a lot of them would be hired back eventually (assuming they wanted to rejoin such a family).
Benioff continued, talking about how hard it was for him personally. “But it’s not easy. You know, there’s no rulebook here, and there’s different ways to handle it. I could just have not said anything. That’s much easier. But I don’t think that that’s the right thing to do. I think the right thing to do is to actually take the bullets.” You could argue that it was his laid off employees who were left with the more serious wounds than Benioff.
The company has been dogged by five activist investors in recent months, and is being pressured to cut costs, but the layoffs continue in spite of a stellar quarter. In fact, Benioff bragged to Swisher in bombastic fashion: “We had a great quarter. Yeah, it’s probably I think, it’s probably the best quarter of a software company ever.”
Meanwhile the WSJ reported last month about a $10 million contract between Salesforce and actor Matthew McConaughey. In a recent interview with Barron’s, Benioff insisted that the contract with the actor was not related to the layoffs — but perhaps the $10 million could be better spent.
The company’s stock is down in early trading.