Even AWS isn’t immune to a hiring freeze

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Amazon sent a memo to staff on Wednesday announcing company-wide hiring freeze, in a bid to suspend additional new hires for its corporate staff. The company said it plans to fill some positions and add staff in targeted areas.

The pause even extends to AWS, the company’s trusty profit center.

As of Thursday, when Amazon released the memo, more than 9,000 jobs were listed as open at AWS, according to CIO Dive’s review of the jobs site. As of Friday afternoon, just over 5,700 jobs were listed, marking a decline of around 35% for AWS openings referenced on the Amazon job site in about 24 hours.

This is a sharp drop from the 21,100 jobs open at AWS on October 3, according to a screenshot of the return machine. Amazon did not respond to CIO Dive’s questions about hiring freezes affecting AWS at press time.

The economy-wide contraction is far-reaching as the biggest tech companies take a cautious approach to business operations.

AWS, which is reliably Amazon’s most profitable segment, has seen slowing growth rates. In the third quarter, the period ending September 30, AWS saw 27% year-over-year growth, topping $20.5 billion in net sales.

While prolific, it’s still down from the 39% year-over-year growth AWS saw this time last year.

AWS isn’t alone among cloud players looking to control operational spend. Microsoft plans to slow hiring over the coming year and has made a small number of layoffs.

Axios reported in mid-October that Microsoft plans to cut approximately 1,000 jobs across job tiers, teams, and geographies.

During Microsoft’s fourth quarter, for the period ending June 30, Microsoft recorded costs of $113 million related to employee severance costs. Its headcount still grew 22% year-over-year, Microsoft said in its Oct. 25 earnings call for the period ending Sept. 30. But Microsoft expects a minimum total. headcount growth in the next quarter.

Microsoft did not respond to questions about the job cuts or which segments were affected by slow hiring. A company spokesperson said, “Like all businesses, we regularly assess our business priorities and make structural adjustments accordingly. We will continue to invest in our business and hire in key growth areas in the coming year.”

At Alphabet, the parent company of Google Cloud, a slowdown in the pace of hiring will become more apparent in 2023, in an effort to moderate operating expense growth. Staff additions in the fourth quarter will slow to less than half of those added in the third quarter, CEO Sundar Pichai said during a Third quarter earnings call last week for the period ending September 30.

Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google, said she was pleased with the momentum of Google Cloud and plans to continue significant investments in the company. “We’re still focused, to a large extent, on the path to profitability and free cash flow strength here,” she said on the earnings call.

In a statement to CIO Dive, a spokesperson said, “Google Cloud continues to hire for critical roles.”

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