A new round of layoffs at Microsoft begin today, February 1, according to several of my contacts (and one Microsoft official on Twitter).
Reports that hundreds of layoffs could be coming to Microsoft's marketing organization surfaced in mid-January. I've heard that the brunt of the cuts could hit the Central Marketing Group (CMG), headed by Corporate Vice President Chris Capossela, but that marketing departments in some product groups -- including Server and Tools and Windows Phone -- also could be affected.
One of my contacts said that the cuts will affect most of the business groups, as well as the Central Marketing Group, commence on February 1.
One Marketing Manager at Microsoft tweeted on February 1 that the layoffs had begun. "Microsoft to announce major layoffs today as a result of marketing org restructuring," tweeted Commercial and Communications Sector Lead Maher Al-Khaiyat.
Robert Wahbe, the most recent head of Server and Tools Marketing, announced he was leaving Microsoft earlier this year. And the Windows Phone marketing team has shed several employees over the past few months.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on anything to do with the layoffs when I asked on February 1.
I've heard from a couple of my contacts that the goal of the new round of layoffs is to reduce the duplication in marketing functions between CMG and the business groups.
"Field marketing for the US has been cut back so extensively, it has become ineffective in the enterprise space," said one of my contacts, who requested anonymity. "Hopefully, resources will get shifted back to the field and closer to the customer" as a result of the marketing cuts.
Microsoft cut 5,000 jobs three years ago, with CEO Steve Ballmer saying at that time that he couldn’t guarantee there might not be further cuts at some time.
Update: Microsoft wouldn't give me a quote confirming the layoffs, but it looks like they did give one to Todd Bishop at GeekWire. Bishop quotes a Microsoft spokesperson saying:
“Given the rapid changes in technology and the shifts in how our customers connect with Microsoft, great marketing is more important than ever to Microsoft’s future success. We’re taking steps to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our marketing, and to strengthen career paths for marketers at Microsoft. Some of these changes involved the reduction of a small percentage of marketing positions, to better align our resources with our business needs and clarify roles across the marketing function.”