Intuit decimates staff, hopes to hire same number in AI refocus

What's that Lassie? The IRS hopes to offer free direct tax filing for everyone next year?

Intuit has announced plans to lay off 1,800 people, which is roughly 10 percent of its workforce.

It also claims it's not actually eliminating jobs overall – and will be hiring the same number of staff in Bangalore, Tel Aviv, and some US locations to do AI-related work. 

Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi shared the news in an email to employees Wednesday morning that was filled with references to his plans to become an artificial intelligence leader, and as such things need to change at the TurboTax maker.

"As I've shared many times, the era of AI is one of the most significant technology shifts of our lifetime," Goodarzi said in his missive, also shared publicly. "For over 40 years, we've had a successful track record of self-disruption and reinvention … we must accelerate our innovation and investments in the areas that are most important to our future success." 

Those areas all center around supporting customers with AI-powered products, according to the Intuit CEO, and presage a change in strategy at the software developer. 

"Our vision is to be an AI-driven expert platform for mid-market customers, delivering industry-specific experiences to fuel their success as the complexity of their business grows," Goodarzi wrote. Intuit has been focusing on growing its mid-market business since 2019, we're told. 

... embedding AI in all our customer experiences, enabling our customers to manage their money

In order to further that mission, the California corporation plans to get rid of around 1,050 people "who are not meeting expectations" in the cuts announced today, and where those employees being eliminated are located wasn't made clear.

The cuts will also include a 10 percent reduction in the number of director or higher executive positions at Intuit, and the elimination of more than 300 roles "to streamline work and reallocate resources toward key growth areas."

Intuit's director of external corporate communications Kali Fry told The Register the biz considers its most critical growth areas to be "embedding AI in all our customer experiences, enabling our customers to manage their money end-to-end, and accelerat[ing] our mid-market offerings and international growth." 

Eighty technology roles at the developer are also being consolidated "to sites where we are strategically growing our technology teams and capabilities," Goodarzi said. He explained two offices in Edmonton and Boise would be closed, impacting 250 employees, "a certain number" of whom were asked to relocate, with the rest terminated. The new tech roles will be located in Atlanta, Bangalore, within Maine and New York, Tel Aviv, and Toronto. 

The 1,800 new jobs, replacing the same number cut, will be mostly in engineering, product, and customer-facing roles like sales, support and marketing, we're told. 

"In context of the actions we are taking today, we expect our overall headcount to grow in FY25 and beyond," Goodarzi told employees.

Feeling threatened?

Intuit has been in the cross-hairs of US regulators of late, with the Federal Trade Commission ruling earlier this year that the tax filing app biz falsely advertised its products as "free" when most US folks filing taxes using Intuit's tech had to eventually pay for it. Intuit has said it believes the FTC lacked authority to make such a decision. 

The IRS, meanwhile, just trialed a free tax preparation program to save Americans from the likes of Intuit's "junk fees" in a selection of states. The tax collectors said in April this Direct File pilot program was used by just over 140,000 taxpayers, and that the IRS saw "strong interest" in the system.

The agency subsequently made the program permanent and invited all states to take part. Meanwhile, Republicans have vowed to defund the Direct File system.

With Intuit officially on notice that it's likely to lose a chunk of its revenue – due to the above IRS program rendering the biz's filing prep software and services unnecessary for taxpayers – that refocus on mid-market customers makes a lot of business sense, and eliminating a bunch of jobs that are part of a now-outdated business model does, too.

Intuit didn't directly answer questions about how its strategy, and accompanying layoffs, may be driven by the IRS's moves, telling us only that today's announcement was "not related to a particular business." ®

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