Technology giant Microsoft is planning to close its London office of Skype and to lay off most of the nearly 400 people employed there, a media report said. “Microsoft made the decision to unify some engineering positions, potentially putting at risk a number of globally focused Skype and Yammer roles,” the Financial Times quoted Microsoft as saying.
Skype will still maintain offices throughout the world, including in Redmond, Palo Alto, Vancouver, and several locations in Europe. Another report on ZDNet says “Microsoft cut about 300 additional people globally this past week,” and a company spokesperson confirmed this number.
But the layoffs in Skype indicate a shift in priorities, with anonymous former employees telling media that Microsoft has increasingly been taking control of Skype, replacing Skype’s employees with its own.
Skype was one of the first big voice chatting apps, but it has increasingly come under threat from basically all sides. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, among others, offer the same features and have enormous user bases. Meanwhile, business tools like Slack are beginning to build in the features, like video chatting, that people have traditionally gone to Skype for.
Microsoft bought Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion, but over the years Skype has seen a decline in popularity. Video-calling has many options now, including Apple’s FaceTime and Google’s over Duo app. WhatsApp which is the world’s biggest instant messaging app is also expected to launch the video-calling feature on its app soon, which could pose an even bigger threat to Skype’s current existence.
In July, it was reported that Microsoft will cut 2,850 jobs, about 2.5 percent of its workforce in the phone business. The Redmont-giant is expected to shutdown the Lumia smartphone brand and instead launch a Surface smartphone next year. In May this year, Microsoft had announced plans to further restructure the struggling Lumia smartphone business, which included close to 1,850 job cuts.
With IANS inputs