Zoom announces layoffs and major CEO pay cut, experts warn AI could eliminate jobs

Plus, Nintendo announces pay raises amid lower profits.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at some news stories from this week and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Zoom to lay off about 15% of its workforce while CEO takes a big cut to compensation

How the times have changed. Zoom, the platform that kept many of us connected throughout the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, is, cutting 1,300 jobs in response to changing post-lockdown behaviors and a murky economic outlook. In addition, Zoom CEO and founder Eric Yuan is set to take a 98% percent pay cut and forgo his corporate bonus.

According to NPR:

“As the world transitions to life post-pandemic, we are seeing that people and businesses continue to rely on Zoom,” he wrote. “But the uncertainty of the global economy, and its effect on our customers, means we need to take a hard — yet important — look inward to reset ourselves so we can weather the economic environment, deliver for our customers and achieve Zoom’s long-term vision.”

On top of Yuan’s compensation cut, the rest of Zoom’s executive leadership team will take 20% cuts to their pay and also forfeit their bonuses.

It’s rather striking to see one of the most identifiable parts of the work-from-home movement downsize in a major way, but this is the reality of the post-lockdown workplaces. While seeing jobs cut is obviously never a positive, it’s encouraging that Zoom afforded affected employees up to 16 weeks of severance pay and healthcare coverage. With many other tech companies fumbling layoff announcements, it seems Zoom did as well as it could have here. The forgoing of bonuses and pay helps to present solidarity from the executive board to the workforce (though much of this is likely in stock, making it more of a gesture than anything else), and having that sort of messaging is important for public perception.

2. Experts warn that AI could kill jobs, deepen wealth inequality

The rise of ChatGPT has led to conversations about how the AI prompt-writing tool will impact how we all perform our jobs, or even if some jobs might dry up because of it. We even asked the software to write a press release and news article over on PR Daily to test it out, with mixed results. But some experts are claiming that ChatGPT is going to not only take jobs away from skilled human beings but also widen the wealth gap.

According to The Guardian:

Like many revolutionary technologies before it, AI is likely to eliminate jobs. But, as has been the case in the past, experts argue, AI will likely offset much of that by spurring the creation of new jobs in addition to enhancing many existing jobs. The big question is: what sort of jobs?

While past rounds of automation affected factory jobs most, Anu Madgavkar of McKinsey Global Institute said that AI will hit white-collar jobs most. “It’s increasingly going into office-based work and customer service and sales,” she said. “They are the job categories that will have the highest rate of automation adoption and the biggest displacement. These workers will have to work with it or move into different skills.”

In other words, many office workers could face downward mobility.

The report goes on to state that 50-60% of companies in the modern workforce are going to pursue AI-related projects, this sort of tech is something we’re just going to need to learn to live with and work alongside.

As writers and communicators, ChatGPT is a force to be reckoned with, as Google just announced its competitor to the AI writing software. The tech is adept at distilling ideas into short prompts, and with a human touch, but we can refine them to make them really pop. It’s important to note though, that tech such as ChatGPT can allow for more time to strategize and figure out what audiences we need to reach rather than bogging us down in writing small bits of copy that come along.

3. Nintendo implements 10% pay raise for developers despite profit dip

A video game giant is bucking the trend of layoffs that have dominated the news lately, instead telling investors that game developers will receive a raise, with some Nintendo of America contractors reporting that they’ve already seen a bump in their paychecks.

According to Kotaku:

“It’s important for our long-term growth to secure our workforce,” Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said during the company’s earnings report today, according to Reuters. The news comes after Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently called on companies to pay workers more after inflation hit its highest point in the country since 1981.

The raises were also announced during an earnings presentation that otherwise included disappointing news. Switch sales fell even though the recently released Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games were the fastest-selling ever in the company’s history, already reaching 20 million. As a result, Nintendo actually announced it will make less money during its current fiscal year than it had previously planned.

Leave it to the creators of smile-inducing characters like Mario and Kirby to provide us with a positive news story this week. Sure, while there are still reported issues in the Kotaku story regarding the use of contract staff in the United States so benefits don’t have to be provided, a pay bump in a sea of tech layoffs is encouraging news. In any industry, the people behind the product are what make it great. That’s a lesson we can all hold on to as communicators, and it’s one we should share when we’re crafting stories around our organizations.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars! Enjoy the Super Bowl this weekend, and Go Eagles!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. He will be spending this weekend thinking about little else other than the Philadelphia Eagles and the upcoming Super Bowl. As always, he says, Go Birds.


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