News broke today of cuts to digital comics platform comiXology‘s staff by its parent company Amazon. The layoffs are part of a “role reductions” by the company due to the shifting economic reality. The layoffs are worldwide and impact multiple departments, not just comiXology.
The letter, which you can read below describes increases costs such as a labor shortage, so firing people is the logical direction to fix that issue… but we digress.
The savings in dollars will be folded into other initiatives like increasing local in-stock of popular items to decrease shipping costs for multiple items.
Chatter seems to indicate the comiXology staff cuts were deep though it’s unclear as to the exact impact and number let go. It’s only been described as “numerous” by some within the company stating it’s 50% to 75%.
ComiXology was an early digital comics storefront/reader and quickly dominated the market. They were then purchased in 2014 by Amazon leading into a bumpy time for the digital storefront. The platform was then transitioned into the Kindle store beginning in 2021 and a full transition as part of Amazon’s marketplace in 2022. The comiXology experience suffered numerous issues due to the transition causing a backlash online from irritated customers who felt the product had suffered and lost key features. ComiXology co-founder David Steinberger left comiXology in 2022 for another role in Amazon which he left not long after. Other key senior staff have moved on as well. From the outside, it would seem Amazon hasn’t leveraged the company as one would hope and generally have let it languish, never living up to the potential when it was purchased.
We’ll have more updates as they come and you can read the email sent to Amazon staff regarding the cuts below:
I want to send a note that today we will be notifying employees impacted by our decision to reduce our Amazon WW Stores corporate headcount. Notification emails will be sent out to impacted employees shortly, and we expect all notifications in the U.S., Canada, and Costa Rica to be completed *end of the day today. In other regions, we are following local processes, which may include time for consultation with employee representative bodies starting as soon as today and possibly resulting in longer timelines to communicate with impacted employees. And in China, we will notify employees after the Chinese New Year.
While it will be painful to say goodbye to many of our talented colleagues, it is an important part of a wider effort to lower our cost to serve so we can continue investing in the wide selection, low prices, and fast shipping that our customers love. During Covid, our first priority was scaling to meet the needs of our customers while ensuring the safety of our employees. I’m incredibly proud of this team’s work during this period. Although other companies might have balked at the short-term economics, we prioritized investing for customers and employees during these unprecedented times.
The exit out of Covid this past year was challenging, with labor shortages, supply chain difficulties, inflation, and productivity overhang from growing our fulfillment and transportation networks so substantially during the pandemic, all of which increased our cost to serve. As we head into 2023, we remain in uncertain economic times. Therefore, we’ve determined that we need to take further steps to improve our cost structure so we can keep investing in the customer experience that attracts customers to Amazon and grows our business.
Our plan to improve our cost structure will unfortunately include role reductions. It is painful and rare for us to take this step, and I know how difficult this is on the individuals impacted and their loved ones. Our goal is to make sure every impacted employee is assisted in this transition, so for example, in the U.S., we are providing packages that include a 60-day non-working transitional period with full pay and benefits, plus an additional several weeks of severance depending on length of time with the company, a separation payment, transitional benefits, and external job placement support. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you affected by the planned changes for your contributions to our customers and your broader team.
Role reductions are one of several steps we are taking to lower our cost to serve. We are also increasing local in-stock of the most popular items, making it easier for customers to consolidate shipments for multiple items, and increasing the ways customers can buy the low-priced everyday essentials they need to keep their households running, all with the aim of reducing our network and delivery costs.
And by improving our cost structure, we are also able to continue investing meaningfully in big growth areas such as grocery, Amazon Business, Buy with Prime, and healthcare.
To those who are staying, I know this is a difficult time for you, as well, and it’s important we support one another. We are saying goodbye to people we’ve worked closely with, and there is plenty of hard work ahead as we innovate on behalf of customers. Although I would prefer not to eliminate even a single role, we are making these changes now to keep investing in improving the customer experience, which will strengthen our business for the long term.
As I’ve shared with many of you, I have never been more optimistic about the opportunity in front of us. For over 25 years, we’ve innovated on behalf of customers, and in so many ways, we are just getting started. Lowering our cost to serve will be a core priority for us in the years ahead to fund even more innovation. It’s not just about doing more with less, but rethinking how we serve our customers, how we organize internally, and what new areas of innovation we invest in. Every team has a role to play in finding ways to reduce costs while improving selection, pricing, and delivery speeds. I am confident that Amazonians will bring their ownership, innovation, and bias for action to this challenge, unlocking even more value for customers.