1,900 employees disappear from Salesforce’s all-employee Slack channel as layoffs leave those still with jobs confused and upset

February 2, 2023, 8:15 PM UTC
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff, chief executive of Salesforce
Simon Dawson—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Business software giant Salesforce is slowly making good on its promise to cut thousands of employees while leaving the remaining staff largely in the dark and grumbling in internal Slack channels.

The company, which said in early January it would lay off 10% of its staff over the coming weeks, or about 8,000 people, made its latest cuts today involving an unknown number of mostly sales staff. A Salesforce spokesperson confirmed that the latest round was part of the previously announced reductions.

Salesforce has not issued any statements to staff yet about today’s cuts, but the company has held multiple all-hands meetings in regions including Germany, Ireland, and the U.K., according to Slack messages viewed by Fortune. The company is not recording the meetings likely owing to recent leaks to the press, sources say.

Salesforce is under pressure from activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value, which are pushing for major cost-cutting. Since that campaign started, Salesforce has announced plans to cut $3 billion to $5 billion in costs by reducing its number of offices and by eliminating a pandemic-era benefit of allowing employees one Friday off per month.

One Salesforce employee told Fortune that the company’s “all-salesforce” Slack channel went from roughly 82,500 members on Feb. 1 to roughly 80,600 today, signaling that 1,900 workers may have been cut. The timing of the cuts may be tied to a sales team fiscal year kickoff event at Salesforce’s San Francisco headquarters.

“They would want as many loose ends in this shitty process wrapped up by then as they can muster,” a Salesforce employee told Fortune. “Kickoff is basically a sales pep rally. Need to not have people feel like the sword of Damocles is hanging over them.”

Multiple sources told Fortune Salesforce was waiting for the end of the fiscal year to wrap up layoffs in order for sales staff to finalize their fourth-quarter deals. This latest round also affected Salesforce’s chat service subsidiary, Slack, where some engineering jobs were eliminated.

“Today is another difficult day for us. As I’m sure you are finding out, more of our Slack colleagues were impacted by the restructuring this morning. This action is a continuation of what we already announced in January, so you won’t see any new companywide communications,” Slack chief technology officer Cal Henderson wrote to staff.

“I know many of you will have questions about who was laid off and in which functional areas and geographies. Unfortunately that’s not information that we are able to share with you today, though I can say that affected employees have all already been notified,” he continued. Slack’s incoming chief product officer, Noah Desai Weiss, sent a similar message.

Many employees have vented their anger in an internal “airing-of-grievances” Slack channel, which has 21,235 members and growing. A considerable number of employees are upset that there has been no widespread internal communication about the layoffs from leadership, aside from the regional all-hands meetings outside the U.S.

Also on Slack, employees have created a channel with the grim name #should-i-deactivate-before-i-wake. It’s where employees can post their goodbyes today in case they lose access to their accounts tomorrow.

“Some say timing is everything. At just gone 8 a.m. this morning I was one of the unfortunate ones to receive an email notifying me of potential redundancy,” a Salesforce employee wrote in the “airing-of-grievances” Slack channel in a screenshot viewed by Fortune. “Less than an hour later DHL delivered my 5-year surfboard congratulating me on reaching 5 years at Salesforce. There was the complimentary note from [CEO Marc Benioff] thanking me and hoping I’ll keep ‘riding the wave’ with Salesforce for many more years to come. Ironic!”

Do you have insight to share? Got a tip? Contact Kylie Robison at kylie.robison@fortune.com, through secure messaging app Signal at 415-735-6829, or via Twitter DM.

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