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Recent Layoffs Suggest Coders are being Replaced by AI
LinkedIn Engineering and Stack Overflow massive layoffs points to odd trends.
Software engineers have been using A.I. in their work increasingly in 2023, but are their training their replacement? Layoffs at LinkedIn’s engineering and Stack Overflow are raising some eyebrows.
LinkedIn announced Monday that it cut almost 700 employees, with most coming from the engineering organization, according to their internal memo.
On CNBC they were discussing the LinkedIn engineering layoffs in the light of ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot making some junior software engineering positions redundant.
According to the official statement, this is just business as usual:
The reductions come as the business-oriented social network has seen year-over-year revenue growth slow for eight consecutive quarters. It grew just 5% in the second quarter, even as membership growth has accelerated each quarter for the past two years, Microsoft said in July.
But what’s really going on? We know GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT have been making serious headway in coding productivity. Isn’t it only a matter of time before software engineers become implicated?
After ChatGPT disruption, Stack Overflow lays off 28 percent of staff
At Stack Overflow it appears much more dramatic. It would not surprise me if in 2024 we saw patterns of layoffs suggesting AI is replacing software engineers.
And if there was nothing to it, why did CNBC commentators insinuate the LinkedIn engineering layoffs had to do with AI?
Stack Overflow’s relationship with AI is even more weird according to the Verge. The company issued a temporary ban on users generating answers with the help of an AI chatbot in December last year, but its alleged under-enforcement led to a months-long strike among moderators that was resolved in August; the ban is still in place today.
They had overhired so the layoffs aren’t entirely surprising. But I feel the LinkedIn engineering layoffs point to more ominions things from Microsoft ahead.
Talent changes are a difficult, but necessary and regular part of managing our business. The changes we shared with our team today will result in a reduction of approximately 668 roles across our engineering, product, talent and finance teams.
Listen that’s a lot of jobs for software engineers at Microsoft.
Year of Efficiency not over?
Microsoft announced in January that it was cutting 10,000 employees (CNBC), and additional ones following in July. The slimming down comes as Microsoft’s overall revenue growth has slipped, pushing CEO Satya Nadella to lower costs across the company.
At what point does Generative A.I. start to bite the software engineers who have been asked to train these systems for their corporate overlords? And will in the future it impact demand for software engineers when a so-called productivity bump has occurred in the space. Won’t you rationally need fewer engineers to achieve the same results? Correct me if I am wrong.
That’s three percent of LinkedIn’s entire workforce with engineering getting the brunt of the layoffs.
LinkedIn is now ramping up hiring in India, according to the person familiar with the matter.
Memo to Employees
We did not expect to share this important update with you all in the midst of such challenging times, but in the spirit of creating clarity, Tomer and I wanted to share some news regarding changes we are making to our orgs.
As we continue to execute on our FY24 plan, we need to also evolve how we work and what we prioritize so we can deliver on the key initiatives we’ve identified that will have an outsized impact in achieving our business goals. This means adapting our organizational structures to improve agility and accountability, establishing unambiguous ownership, and driving improved efficiency & transparency through reduced layering.
These decisions result in the reduction of 563 roles across R&D. Broken down there are 137 Engineering management roles and 38 Product roles being reduced. Additionally, there will be 388 role reductions across our Engineering team in an effort to better align resources to our FY24 plan, and we will open a small number of new roles to fill critical gaps in our ambitious roadmap.
For those who are directly affected by these changes, you will receive a calendar invitation within the next hour, titled “Required Attendance: R&D Role Reductions”. This meeting will provide you with detailed information on how we will support you through this transition.
If you do not receive this invitation, expect communication from your Product or Engineering Executive leader soon with specifics pertaining to your organization and how we will collectively navigate through these changes.
Tomer and I made these decisions with deep consideration towards the long-term needs of our business and with the acknowledgement that every affected individual has played a valuable role in the growth and success of Linkedin.
In the coming days, our focus will be on supporting each other and discussing the ways we will move forward, with our vision, mission, and values as our guides. Today, it is imperative that we support our colleagues navigating this transition. Let’s continue to embrace empathy and understanding through these difficult times and use these as a cornerstone for the support we provide each other.
Mohak & Tomer
Typically I think technology people think layoffs will mostly hit HR, maybe a bit of sales. So I wonder if this comes as a surprise?
AI is already linked to layoffs in the industry that created it
If Generative A.I. keeps getting better at coding, I think we will see more layoffs targeting software engineers and engineering teams in and around Silicon Valley.
You can track layoff trends and company waves at Layoffs.fyi here.
A lot of the impacted jobs are actually Engineering managers and not just junior developers.
As we found out that things like GitHub Copilot are very unprofitable for Microsoft, perhaps they feel that they need to make more cuts to compensate. Likely some of the very people that helped train these coding tools.
LinkedIn is just a piece Microsoft acquired, that typically destroys the companies it acquires by cannibalizing them historically in such a manner. As soon as they don’t perform, there is pain. But why would a magnificent seven company be doing this? Maybe Azure and all of this investment in OpenAI and early access to GPT-4 hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations?