Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

Summary: Microsoft marketing layoffs are set to be announced internally on February 1, according to various sources.


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.

Microsoft veteran Capossela was appointed as the new head of Microsoft's centralized marketing, advertising and corporate communications unit in April 2011.

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.”

Topics: CXO, Microsoft, IT Employment


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • the end is coming folks

    I've been telling you for a while that M$ is on the ropes.
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

      @The Linux Geek Indeed. Looking at the revenue these last years it looks like MSFT is really in trouble. So little money coming in :-(

      I hope the irony came out well :-)
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @Cyrus_V2000 I assume you mean "sarcasm" rather than "irony, because if you meant 'irony' then you're just as misinformed or uninformed or trollish as Linux Geek. I do think you meant sarcasm, though, since only a troll would actually claim that Microsoft has a problem because they're only bringing in a few 10s of billions of dollars in profits each quarter- I'd love to have that problem! A lot of people seem to have an irrational hatred of all thing MS, yet think the set top box and server markets indicate that Linux is King!!! On set top boxes, yes, but is that really a high profit market? As for servers, Microsoft's server software is far ahead of Linux in profitability and generally considered the better system. So, Linux freak can crawl back into his cave of no light, and if he waits long enough, Microsoft may actually "be on the ropes". Of course, the sun will burn out someday as well, so those are pretty easy predictions to make but neither is true right now, which I'm sure is what your response to the geek meant!
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @xplorer1959 My apologies, I obviously was being sarcastic :-)
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @Cyrus_V2000 Actually, you should look at the breakdown of those revenue figures. Their product lines are shifting in weight, and those that are becoming the largest are not invulnerable...they are simply the ones that were not the first targets for reduction (i.e., not the easiest to remove or replace). That doesn't mean those moats aren't narrower now than 5 years ago, or won't be 3 years from now than now. Look at industry trends -- the shift to mobile, where the OS is not Windows; the app dev space, where code development only needs to be done on Windows for native Windows apps; cross/multi-platform code can be done elsewhere. Office has good-enough competitors like Open/Libre Office and others. What's left? Sharepoint? Servers? Linux rules the server space -- it's only maintenance of ASP/.Net apps that keeps Server from evaporating.

        Good luck to all MS shareholders...I no longer use a dollar sign in the acronym.
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1


        Look at Astrazenca, massive all time high profits but about to lose patent protection on two drugs that are nearly half it's revenue and be open to cheap generic competition. A week is along time in business
        Alan Smithie
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @xplorer1959 - after reading your comment, I think you are really misinformed. How did you you say MS Servers are superior. The Server OESs are very clearly giving the indication that customers are purchaing the server hardware really for using with Linux OS. It supports the fact that all the Server Management tools have a web or linux versions (which was not the case few years back). I myself working on data centre and quite often communicate with the Server hardware vendors. Sad to say you are uninformed.
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @xplorer1959 probably because not all linux distros are paid versions. probably you are just comparing MS and Redhat. if you combine linux distros usability in server environment to MS, linux clearly wins
  • "Capossela" (I, ii, 46)

    O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt
    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
    Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
    His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
    How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
    • Why? you said that their marketing sucked

      so it looks like they're cleaning house in the marketing dept, so you where right, there.
      Too bad the rest of your predictions have never panned out, but hey, at least you got [b]one[/b] right after so many years! :D
      William Farrel
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @William Farrel probably they just need a small team for the marketing department for consumers. but for servers? they need to come up a good plan since linux is dominating on that market
  • Good. Microsoft's marketing sucks!

    This layoff is severely needed. Microsoft's marketing department had NOT helped Microsoft's image at all!!!
    • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

      @day2die -

      the layoffs are needed? You make it sound like product quality has nothing to do with it. Their ads are good but xbox freezing, wp7's lackluster look, win7 bugs, etc, are less important...
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @HypnoToad72 xbox freezing? wp7 lackluster look, win7 bugs?

      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        @HypnoToad72 Was this supposed to be sarcasm? You just named 3 excellent products.
        Winning Guy
      • I know, TardHugger@...


        I think he lost pretty much everyone on that post.
        William Farrel
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1

        You just named three best in category products...
        When Win 8 launches this this year with the Metro interface, you will see WP7 take off.
      • RE: Microsoft marketing layoffs said to begin February 1


        To poke fun i will say 2012 will not be the year of wp7..
        As for take off i been hearing that for a long time.
        Wait till Nodo it will take off, then wait for mango it will take off. Wait till more carriers it will take off, now wait till windows 8 it will take off....

        What next wait till mobile phones get replaced by the new technology then old WP7 wil take off...
        Anthony E
      • W7 could still use some fine tuning

        @TardHugger | Winning Guy | William Farrel | rickhan<br>HypnoToad72: [i]Win7 bugs...[/i]<br><br>Well if none of you have yet to notice a whole slew of bugs and shortcomings resident in W7 (as HypnoToad72 alludes to) - and I'm not sure how this could be when some are rather glaring - then you haven't hammered the GUI enough. Or you're not too picky. Take your choice.

        Cleaning up (and building upon) existing code is how WXP went from marginal (~SP1-) to superior (SP2+) as time went on. Shades of W98SE, or W95 OSR2 + 2.5, or W3.1 vs 3.0. W7 is a solid platform and a welcome v2 refresh of Vista, but could still use some fine tuning.

        To cite but one thing: Instead of dumbing down and restricting the reach of the W7 start menu, they should increase its flexibility and customization capability (as in the past). Of course with Metro they seem to be throwing in the towel on it altogether, by dumping the SM content onto the desktop in a giant scrolling ribbon (how tidy). So I won't hold my breath for much improvement there.
  • Not surprised, though.

    Given how horrible Microsoft's own marketing of WP7 has been, and that Nokia has completely eaten their lunch in that department, Microsoft NEEDED to can most of their marketing folks. To create great products like WP7 only to have them sit idle is completely the fault of bad marketing.