The Silicon Valley Business Journal annually publishes a list of the tech companies who are the biggest local employers. In recent years, Apple and Google (now Alphabet) have vied for the number one spot, with Cisco holding a lock on number three. That hasn’t changed. But there have been wild swings in headcount among those on the list.
Looking at the 20 largest tech employers in Silicon Valley, the overall workforce as reported by the Business Journal ranges from 25,000 at Apple to 2789 at Symantec. But what a difference a year makes. Since the Business Journal’s 2016 report, Apple hired 5000, Tesla Motors hired 3471 (for a total local workforce of 10,000), Facebook hired 2586 (for a total of 9385), and Gilead Sciences hired 1719 (for a total of 6949).
Among those companies shedding staff, eBay led the list, losing 3222 employees (for a total of 2978), followed by Intel (minus 3000 for a total of 7801), and Yahoo (minus 193 for a total of 3800).
Overall, headcount gains among the top 20 far exceeded losses, with a total of 16,604 new employees at those tech firms with a growing Silicon Valley presence, compared with 3299 fewer employees among those companies making cutbacks.
(Note: Western Digital was on the list at number 18 this year, and not on previous years, having consolidated operations to its San Jose office. The Business Journal reported the company had 3000 local employees in 2017; it did not make the 2016 list, and the consolidation makes comparing annual totals complicated, so I didn’t include it in this discussion.)
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.