Microsoft layoffs to affect marketing, comms groups

Microsoft confirmed on Thursday that the layoffs it announced earlier in the day, representing 14% of the company's workforce, will affect its marketing and communications teams.

REDMOND, WA: Microsoft confirmed on Thursday that the layoffs it announced earlier in the day, representing 14% of the company’s workforce, will affect its marketing and communications teams.

The company is cutting 18,000 positions over the next year, 12,500 of which are professional and factory roles in the company’s Nokia Devices and Services business, according to a press release posted on its site Thursday morning. Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile business in April.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate VP of corporate communications, told PRWeek that "the layoffs will affect most of the functions across the company, including marketing and communications." He could not provide further details.

The job cuts are part of a restructuring plan to "simplify" the organization and align the Nokia unit with the company’s overall strategy, according to Microsoft’s statement.

Its internal communications on Thursday morning included an email from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft staffers and an email from EVP Stephen Elop to Microsoft Devices Group employees.

In Nadella’s email, he referenced a note he sent to staffers last week, in which he discussed the company’s strategic direction as a productivity and platform company.

"Having a clear focus is the start of the journey, not the end," wrote Nadella, who became the company’s CEO in February. "The more difficult steps are creating the organization and culture to bring our ambitions to life… The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce."

To help the company’s decision-making process and accelerate the flow of information, Nadella said his plans are to have "fewer layers of management" and more lean and efficient business processes and support models, resulting in more "productive and impactful" teams.

Elop’s email largely echoed Nadella’s sentiments. He added that other changes will include the "ramping down" of engineering work in Finland, China, and San Diego.

On Friday, Nadella will hold a monthly Q&A event for staffers, and leaders across the organization will hold town halls, host information-sharing sessions, and provide more details on the company’s intranet over the coming weeks.

Nadella will also share the company’s plans for its innovation investments during Microsoft’s earnings call on July 22. The company will lose $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion to cover severance and other costs from the layoffs over the next year, according to a statement.

In March, Microsoft named former Clinton aide and ex-Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn as chief strategy officer. He joined the company in August 2012. Tony Bates, EVP of business development and evangelism, and marketing EVP Tami Reller, also said they were leaving the company earlier this year. That same month, Shaw started reporting to CMO and EVP Chris Capossela. Reller was replaced by Capossela, who reports to Nadella.

Capossela is also acting lead for the consumer channels group until a replacement is named.

Reller stayed on to help with the transition, while Bates left immediately.

Last month, GoPro appointed Bates as president and member of the board of directors, reporting directly to founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman.

This story was updated on July 17 with more information about Bates' latest role.

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