February 3, 2023
Aloha! Tech reporter Kylie Robison here.
If you ever watched the Disney classic Lilo & Stitch, you know that Ohana means family. At business software giant Salesforce, Ohana is their entire schtick. However, over the last few weeks, it’s been a whole lot less about family and more about saving cash.
The $136 billion public company announced its plans to lay off 10% of its family—or staff—in the new year. The first round of cuts came in early January, and an ominous all-hands led by CEO Marc Benioff left many uneasy and confused. He hinted that layoffs were not finished, but didn’t provide a precise date for when the hammer would drop.
Yesterday, shortly after the end of the fiscal year, the dreaded second round of layoffs pummeled the company. Several thousand Salesforce employees across the globe were told aloha, but instead of hello, this one meant goodbye.
We reported 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. Many people took to the company’s “#airing-of-grievances” channel to, well, air their grievances.
In screenshots of the channel viewed by Fortune, one person told a rather morbid story. The employee wrote that at 8 a.m., he was notified of his redundancy. Less than an hour later, he received a surfboard in the mail from Salesforce congratulating him on reaching 5 years at the company.
“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,” he wrote. “Ironic!”
Salesforce isn’t the only major tech company being rocked by layoffs at the moment. However, the firm’s specific culture of positivity and kinship has taken a particular beating. Employees have been leaking to the press at an unforeseen pace, the grievances channel has been bustling with complaints, and Benioff is “asking for a friend” why his employees aren’t their usual upbeat, profit-making selves.
It’s unclear if Salesforce’s cheerful culture will be able to bounce back. The company is under the ever-growing pressure of activist investors demanding cost-saving measures, and a looming recession seems to be sucking the fun out of Silicon Valley.
The fostering of Salesforce’s Ohana will be something to keep an eye out for. However, it’s unlikely this is the end of belt-tightening at the firm.
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