Microsoft is facing criticism for hosting a private Sting concert the evening before it announced layoffs that affected some 10,000 people.
The exclusive gig was an intimate gathering of around 50 people that included Microsoft's top executives who got to enjoy an evening's entertainment in the company of the British musician, reports The Wall Street Journal. This concert hasn't gone down well with Microsoft's rank-and-file and former employees as the next day the company announced that it would lay off 10,000 of its workforce.
Related: Microsoft CEO Enjoyed 10 Percent Pay Rise Just Before Layoffs
The layoffs are Microsoft's largest since 2014, and CEO Satya Nadella has said it represents a 4.5 percent reduction in the company's total employee base. The layoffs also affects its games division with affected studios including Bethesda Game Studios, The Coalition, and 343 Industries. The significant number of layoffs at the latter, which is responsible for Halo Infinite, especially irked former staff. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that it was "painful decision" in an email to staff, but that it was necessary for Microsoft's long-term growth.
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The WSJ reported that employees thought it wasn't the right time for a Sting concert paid for by the company, while the theme of the event was sustainability. Microsoft execs have been attending the World Economic Forum in Davos recently, with Nadella speaking about AI and the future of the tech industry, and the challenges it faces, in Q&A sessions and keynotes at the exclusive event held in Switzerland.
As Microsoft splashes out on private gigs, it's also making sure its executives are getting well remunerated. It's been reported, for example, that Nadella got a ten percent increase in his pay from 2021 for 2022, with his reported earnings topping $57 million once his bonuses are factored in. MarketWatch noted that this increased the difference between Nadella's pay and that of an average Microsoft employee. Meanwhile, CFO Amy Hood made more than $26 million in 2022, and vice chair and president Bradford Smith received over $23 million. Every executive in fact would get at least $11 million.
The company is also in the process of closing its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, although various regulators are investigating the deal. While the likes of Meta, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have been enacting huge layoffs, it all contrasts heavily with the famous example set by Nintendo in the 2010s when executives there decided to take major pay cuts, which was credited in helping to prevent mass layoffs.