On Wednesday morning Microsoft announced it was laying off 10,000 employees, about 5 percent of its total headcount, in response to lowered revenue and a “re-aligned core structure.” Hours earlier, dozens of Microsoft executives attended an exclusive, company-funded Sting concert outside of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The combination of the two events is a shockingly tone-deaf look for the world’s largest software maker.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the Tuesday night concert, which was reportedly an “intimate” gathering of 50 or so people. Gordon “Sting” Matthew Thomas Summer is one of the most recognizable rock musicians in the world, whose private appearances generally cost around $500,000 according to AAE Music. It’s not known if Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who personally signed the blog post announcing the mass layoff, attended the concert, though he was present in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
Nadella did not announce any cutbacks for executive pay or bonuses.
Ultimately a boujie, star-studded executive event that cost the equivalent of five to ten years of a regular Microsoft employee’s salary probably wouldn’t make a dent in the 200-billion-dollar company’s plan to cut its workforce. And Microsoft is hardly the only tech company to do so in the last few weeks — Google announced a similar cull of 12,000 workers just this morning. But it’s impossible to overstate how bad the optics are for Microsoft and its CEO, who claimed that the company was eliminating jobs “in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible.”