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Salesforce trims workforce as growth slows post-lockdowns

The COVID-era hiring spree which saw thousands onboarded comes to an abrupt end

Salesforce is set to lay off hundreds of staff as the COVID-19-related hiring boom runs out of steam.

The SaaS CRM giant was one of the beneficiaries of the work-remote, work-from-home trend — in part driven by pandemic-related lockdowns — and in 2020 CEO Marc Benioff said it would hire 12,000 or more people over the following year.

Most of the world has eased or totally removed lockdowns on movement of their populations, although China is still enacting them, including in its Guangzhou manufacturing district.

The wave of recruitment seems to have come to an end though, as numerous reports indicate Salesforce is laying off hundreds of staff because of challenges in its markets and closing deals.

"Our sales performance process drives accountability. Unfortunately, that can lead to some leaving the business, and we support them through their transition," a Salesforce spokesperson said in a statement to the media.

The figure represents less than 1 percent of the tech giant's 78,600 workforce, which has almost tripled in the past five years.

But there are mixed messages from Salesforce. In September, reports emerged it was set to hire 2,500 staff in India, bringing the headcount in the sub-continent to 10,000, up from 2,500 in April 2020.

Following second-quarter results in June, CFO Amy Weaver told investors Salesforce was taking a cautious approach to hiring in the uncertain economic environment. Benioff said deals were taking longer to close and being inspected at a higher level.

The Salesforce layoffs come as the wider tech industry looks to reduce its headcount. Meta, the owner of social media outfits Facebook and Instagram, is makking a 13 percent cull, a move which will see "11,000 talented employees go," according to a statement from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Twitter is laying off around half of its workforce following the takeover by Elon Musk, who is the Tesla and SpaceX head honcho too.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is letting go of about 1,000 employees, less than 1 percent of its workforce. Ride hail app Lyft and payment service Stripe are also set for layoffs in the teens, percentage-wise.

Elsewhere, Google was set to slow hiring on the back of Q3 results. The search and cloud giant has hired 51,000 new heads since the start of 2020 ands investors want to see a return on that investment. ®

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