22 Jan Microsoft to cut 5,000 jobs; impact on Madison office unknown
Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it is cutting 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months, a sign of how badly even the biggest and richest companies are being stung by the recession.
The announced layoffs appear to be a first for Microsoft, which was founded in 1975, aside from relatively limited staff cuts the software company made after acquiring companies.
(Editor’s note: As of this posting, Microsoft had not announced any impacts on its office in downtown Madison, an advanced computer lab that was opened to take advantage of the database expertise at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Computer Science Department. Overall, Microsoft said there would be workforce reductions in several areas, including research and development and information technology, over the next 18 months. About 1,400 jobs were eliminated today.
Attempts to contact David DeWitt, a retired UW-Madison computer science professor that runs Microsoft’s local office, were not successful via calls placed to the office.
Jude Shavlik, associate chair of the UW Computer Science Department, said he would be shocked if Microsoft decided to close the office. “I don’t know about any local layoffs,” Shavlik added, noting that perhaps “a dozen or two” people work there. “It’s not a big office, so I doubt anyone will be layed off there. They may slow down hiring, though.”
Microsoft, which has avoided heavy layoffs in past downturns, also acquired Jellyfish, a Madison-based comparison shopping search engine, in 2007. Former Jellyfish executive and co-founder Mark McGuire, who is preparing to launch another technology start-up called Alice.com, said he was informed that several people at Jellyfish, which employs about 20 workers, would be impacted – mostly non-engineering staff.
“It’s very unfortunate, and not something you expect from Microsoft,” McGuire said at the Jan. 22 program of Accelerate Madison, where he served as a panelist.)
In response to a query about local impacts, Microsoft spokesman Nicholas Sesnak did not provide any more specifics in the following statement:
“The majority of layoffs took place in Redmond [Washington], consistent with the high concentration of employees based at our headquarters,” he said. “However, some positions in various cities were also eliminated, as this was a company-wide action.”