Thread regarding Uber layoffs

layoffs were long overdue and should've happened sooner.

Hello Uber Engineer here!
Obviously everything I say is personal experience and opinion. I think the layoffs were long overdue and should've happened sooner. There was a general understanding between my coworkers and I that Uber definitely over hired in 2016. Thanks to that a lot of engineers ran out of things to do which led to political infighting over roadmap, ridiculous redundant resourcing - every single team had mobile/web, severe shortage on infra teams since head count was already taken by main Uber teams. We even started building and maintaining our own chat app. I disagree that all the cool eng project that we put out and share here is a waste of time or resources. Those project was initiated by real needs on Uber and only the best make it out into the rest of the world. Engineers that shipped those projects are still here and we would've done it regardless of whether the 435 people that were hired in the first spot. I fully realize that it's an insensitive thing to say but I think it's important that it's expressed somewhere.
I think the lesson here is to grow responsibily, and it's real people's lives that are being affected. Don't hire people to alleviate your current engineer's burnout and stress. Learn to plan better and to prioritize aggressively instead of just hiring and getting everything done.

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Post ID: @OP+10ZLyBjb

6 replies (most recent on top)

Former Uber Engineer here. I left around the time TK yelled at that driver.

Totally agreed. We had 8 or 9 person teams working on small internal portals and such nonsense like that. Paired with performance reviews where the bottom of the list was pretty much guaranteed fired, this meant incredibly vicious behaviour between teammates just to stay employed.

Uber definitely overhired, and the quality of engineers was lacking to boot. Uber is definitely going to benefit from this.

Apologies to everyone who was laid off. It must s—. It's not your fault, however - the company made a lot of poor decisions early on and it sounds like they're correcting them now. You all are just in the fallout, unfortunately :/

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Post ID: @2dmu+10ZLyBjb

Of those laid off, more than 85% are based in the U.S., 10% in the Asia-Pacific and 5% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the source.

The layoffs came after Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi asked every member of his executive leadership team if they were to start from scratch, would their respective organizations would look like the way they do today.

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Post ID: @2dkk+10ZLyBjb

I don't know the details of this situation and Uber is far from a healthy company, but I don't like that layoffs are always a sign of a company in peril in Silicon Valley.

1) This is a public company with shareholders. If they think they can cut costs without hurting their revenue outlook that's not a bad idea!

2) We all know that interviews for engineers in SV s— ... So why can't you fire someone if you make a mistake?

3) I work at a company (Google) where the prevailing assumption is that if a team is not getting enough done it should ask for more engineers. That almost never helps. It adds communication overhead and doesn't address the problem of why the team wasn't getting to where it thought it would. Just smothers the issues. The most effective teams I've ever worked with were 3-10 people who were motivated and working in their area of expertise.

4) We all know that one bad teammate can undo the work of two good ones.
I could go on. Yes I truly have sympathy for anyone who loses their job suddenly. It s—s for them and those who depend on them. It's probably good for Uber though.

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Post ID: @gdg+10ZLyBjb

They were a reckless company that had lots of funding but now the bill has come due. You are correct it was a good thing less people less chaos.

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Post ID: @oxa+10ZLyBjb

https://qz.com/work/1706584/in-defense-of-uber-laying-off-435-workers/amp/

Uber, which is deep in retrenchment mode after a long-awaited public offering that hasn’t yet panned out all that well, cut another 435 jobs today (Sept. 10). It’s trimming 8% of the staff in its engineering and product groups, on top of the 400 people laid off in July from the company’s global marketing team.

It’s tempting to view the news as righteous comeuppance for a company that arguably grew too fast from the get-go. The pursuit of that growth encouraged Uber’s long history of flouting the rules, and of tolerating a toxic culture that Uber itself now sees as a risk to its business.

But bask in the schadenfreude at your own risk. Setting aside the morality of taking pleasure in seeing hundreds of laypeople lose their job, you might consider, for a moment, the management call that led to these layoffs.

According to a statement Uber provided to TechCrunch, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi asked everyone on his leadership team whether they would replicate the departmental organizations they have today if they were to design them from scratch. “After careful consideration,” the statement reads, “our Engineering and Product leaders concluded the answer to this question in many respects was no.”

You could waste time faulting current or previous management for allowing things to get too unwieldy, for the rapid hiring and decentralized decision-making that flourished as Uber graduated, at breakneck speed, from wily startup to global ride-hailing giant. Or you could give Khosrowshahi the credit he deserves for calling a timeout and encouraging his leadership team to question the status quo.

Of course, it’s in Khosrowshahi’s favor right now to show Wall Street he has room to maneuver. Uber’s shares are trading 25% below their May IPO price of $45—and that’s with the nearly 4% pop the stock got today on the layoff news. (The shares, which closed today at $33.51, were trading below $31 earlier this month.) And Wall Street, of course, has a terrible history of cheering companies on as they slash their workforces.

But Khosrowshahi is no Chainsaw Al. For a company with 27,000 full-time employees around the world, 435 or even 835 job cuts, significant as they may be for those directly affected, are no indication of a scorched-earth mentality. Rather, these cuts would appear to constitute the fine-tuning phase that has long been documented—not right away, but eventually—when a new CEO takes charge.

Khosrowshahi arrived at Uber just over two years ago with a lengthy and urgent priority list, including the addressing of a reputational crisis, a cultural rebuilding, and one of the most anticipated IPOs in years. Layoffs, with their attendant blaring headlines, often signal trouble ahead. But the fact that Khosrowshahi has moved on to questions of organizational structure can be read as a good sign for Uber. It suggests he has shifted out of the mode of putting out fires—enough, at least, to spend some time lighting new ones under his management team—which in turn suggests that Uber won’t be undone by these layoffs one bit.

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Post ID: @pwd+10ZLyBjb

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