The communication platform Discord reportedly plans to lay off 170 staff.
This amounts to 17% of its workforce. CEO Jason Citron said in an internal memo obtained by The Verge that this move is designed to “sharpen our focus and improve the way we work together to bring more agility to our organization.”
Like many tech companies popular with younger people, Discord saw its popularity soar during the pandemic. “We grew quickly and expanded our workforce even faster, increasing by 5x since 2020,” said Citron in the memo. He goes on to say that this caused them to become less efficient and means they need to sharpen their focus.
The platform, which is popular with gamers especially, is currently funded by venture capital and has yet to become profitable. It aims to bridge that gap this year. It had raised around $1 billion and still has over $700 million on hand, so does not appear to be in serious trouble yet.
There are rumors amongst the Discord layoffs that it is considering going public, but there is no sign of this happening any time soon. It turned down a $12 billion offer of acquisition by Microsoft in 2021.
Tech industry layoffs
Despite only being halfway through January, the Discord layoffs are not the only ones to be announced in 2024. The tech industry has been hit by several major rounds of job cuts already this year. Google laid off hundreds of staff this week, games platform Unity cut 25% of its workforce in a ‘restructure’, and Amazon-owned Twitch laid off 35% of its staff also this week. That is just a selection of the affected jobs. Many of the companies cite being unable to reach the highs they hit during the pandemic as a reason for this. They hired staff to keep up with a demand which is no longer there.
With Duolingo explicitly parting ways with contractors to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) generated translations, it has never been a more precarious time to work in technology. Small pockets of the gaming industry have had some success by unionizing, such as the group at Zenimax which negotiated the terms of AI use. This could be a continuing trend across an industry where workers have notoriously little power.
Featured image credit: Discord