The second half of 2019 saw big engineering workforce moves both positive and negative.
HP (big layoffs), WeWork (more layoffs), Oracle (layoffs and hiring), and TSMC (hiring explosion) made big moves. The bulk of the hiring news came from outside Silicon Valley—with a flurry of activity outside the U.S. And the trends show that it’s a good time to be in AI and machine learning or 5G development, perhaps not such a good time to be developing consumer cybersecurity tools.
The big swings:
HP Inc. in October announced that it would cut up to 16 percent of its workforce, between 7000 and 9000 jobs. How many of those cuts affect technical professionals and how they would be distributed geographically wasn’t announced.
Struggling WeWork in October reportedly decided to lay off 500 from its technology division, including about 150 tech professionals from companies it had recently acquired. In November, WeWork-owned Meetup announced layoffs of 50 employees, mostly engineers, and coding boot camp Flatiron School planned to lay off dozens. Overall, including architects, cleaners, and maintenance workers, WeWork is expected to axe as many as 4000, about a third of its total staff.
Oracle announced in October plans to hire 2000 engineers to work on cloud computing technology around the world, including in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and India and at new data centers to be established. Oracle’s announcement came after a major round of layoffs in March. And in August Oracle laid off at least 300 engineers from its flash storage operations in Silicon Valley and Colorado.
In Silicon Valley:
Apple in October began ramping up hiring of engineers to work on its smart-home platform and new smart-home devices in its Cupertino and San Diego, Calif., offices, according to Bloomberg. Apple hasn’t announced specific numbers.
Robotic pizza-maker Zume, based in Mountain View, Calif., has been steadily increasing its engineering workforce in recent months, Thinknum Media reported in October, but didn’t speculate on exact numbers.
JP Morgan, meanwhile, has been recruiting engineers with AI and machine learning expertise for its San Mateo, Calif., office, according to efinancialcareers.
Around the U.S.:
Amazon in September announced plans to add 400 tech professionals to its Portland, Oregon, tech center, including those with expertise in development, information technology, software architecture. The hires will double the company’s engineering workforce there.
In August, Uber announced a tech hiring freeze for all software and services jobs based in the U.S. and Canada. Then in September, Uber announced that it had cut 435 from its product and engineering teams, the majority from U.S. operations, but lifted the hiring freeze. Just weeks later, Uber announced long-term plans to hire 2000 professionals to staff a headquarters and engineering center for Uber Freight in Chicago.
Stratifyd, a four-year-old artificial intelligence and machine learning startup based in Charlotte, N.C., announced in November that it would add at least 200.
Microsoft is also ramping up in North Carolina, announcing in November that it would be adding 430 jobs at its Charlotte campus, mostly in engineering and management. This expansion followed on Microsoft’s October announcement of 575 new positions opening at its tech center in Irving, Texas.
Health tech startup Well announced in November plans to hire 400 in North Carolina.
Computer security toolmaker McAfee in October gave notice of 107 layoffs in Hillsboro, Oregon, by year-end, including 44 software engineers.
Symantec, another cybersecurity tools company, in October indicated that it would be cutting 213 software engineering and middle management jobs from its California operations and an additional 24 engineers and other professionals from its Oregon staff. (Broadcom acquired part of Symantec in August.)
Samsung in October gave notice that it would cut a significant but unspecified number of engineers working on CPU development from its Austin, Texas, R&D center, according to Extremetech. That month, Samsung also announced plans to hire an additional 1200 engineers in India for its R&D centers there.
Goldman Sachs in August announced plans to hire 100 software engineers to be based in its trading divisions in New York and London.
More from around the world:
The biggest hiring news for the second half of 2019 came from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC). TSMC in late July announced plans to fill 3000 new tech jobs by the end of this year distributed among three Taiwan locations.
Ikea executives in October told the Financial Times that the company aims to add more smart products to its line of home furnishings. The retailer is in the process of adding engineers to its Swedish hub, and is considering setting up development operations in the U.S. and Asia.
Nokia, based in Finland, announced in November that it had recently hired 350 engineers to work on 5G technology.
BFS Capital announced in October that it would be hiring 50 to staff its new data science and engineering hub in Toronto.
Essential, the mobile device developer founded by Andy Rubin, tweeted in October news of a hiring push for engineers and designers in Bangalore, India. Essential didn’t release specifics about the eventual size of this team but at this writing listed 10 openings.
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.