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Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, lays off 10% of staff

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Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, lays off 10% of staff


Updated: Jan. 4, 2023 7:54 a.m.

Salesforce Tower, with Salesforce logo visible in San Francisco,

In the first major blow in 2023 to the tech industry, Salesforce — San Francisco’s largest private employer — is laying off about a tenth of its staff, a reduction that could potentially mean the loss of over 7,000 jobs globally in the next few weeks.

The layoffs were announced early Wednesday morning in a SEC filing and in a letter to employees from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff dated Wednesday. It is unclear if any employees at Salesforce’s subsidiaries, including Slack, are affected.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how we came to this moment,” Benioff said in the letter addressed to Salesforce’s “ohana.”

“As our revenue accelerated through the pandemic, we hired too many people leading into this economic downturn we’re now facing, and I take responsibility for that.”

A spokesperson for Salesforce did not respond to questions from SFGATE, instead referring to the SEC filing.

This layoff round comes after a chaos-riddled month for the corporate tech giant. In early December, Salesforce-owned Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Tableau CEO Mark Nelson announced that they would step down within days of each other.

Salesforce chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua and senior vice president of marketing and communications Jonathan Prince also stepped down at the same time as Butterfield.

Their departures came days after Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor announced that he would be leaving a year after serving alongside Benioff.

Butterfield said that his departure was not coordinated with Taylor or Nelson’s departure, according to an internal Slack message viewed by SFGATE.

Still, the mass C-suite departure at Salesforce reverberated internally and throughout the broader tech industry as something of a portent that the brutal period in tech would continue into 2023.

More than 47,000 people across 252 San Francisco Bay Area-based tech companies were laid off in 2022, according to Roger Lee, the founder of tech layoffs tracker

A few hundred Salesforce employees were also laid off in the latter half of 2022.

There were hints that a larger layoff round would hit Salesforce even before the executive exodus. During last year’s Dreamforce, Benioff suggested that Salesforce would be impacted by “some level of normalization” after seeing significant customer demand and growth in the early days of the pandemic.

“Everything is still bigger, but there is definitely some coverage that has to be dealt with,” he said in a press conference during the event. “I don’t think anyone will disagree with that.”

Affected employees will receive “a minimum of nearly five months of pay, health insurance, career resources, and other benefits to help with their transition,” according to the Benioff letter. As of January 2022, the company employed 73,541 people.

“The employees being affected aren’t just colleagues,” Benioff writes. “They’re friends. They’re family.

Please reach out to them. Offer the compassion and love they and their families deserve and need now more than ever. And most of all, please lean on your leadership, including me, as we work through this difficult time together.”

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