UW Professor: Microsoft layoffs will make Puget Sound tech industry stronger

by: John Knicely Updated:

REDMOND, Wash. —

Microsoft announced Thursday that it will lay off 18,000 employees by next June and 1,351 of those will be in the Puget Sound region.  But analysts tell KIRO 7 this will make Microsoft and the tech industry as a whole stronger in the region.

The majority of the layoffs will come with the newly acquired Nokia division in Finland.  IDC software analyst Al Hilwa sees the Redmond campus layoffs as being lumped in with the Nokia layoffs.

“They don't want multiple instances of bad news,” said Hilwa, who is also a former Microsoft product manager.  “So they probably took the opportunity of the Nokia layoff to announce a lot of the restructuring they're doing with the engineering teams.”

Hilwa says it will definitely be tough news for the 1,351 people laid off in the Puget Sound region, but he says this the timing is actually good because of the influx of tech hiring in the region.

“It's probably a good time to be laid off any time in the past 5 years,” said Hilwa.

Seattle tech companies can't hire people fast enough.  Amazon continues to grow its empire in South Lake Union and tech giants like Google and Facebook continue to expand in Seattle. 

University of Washington professor Ed Lazowska told KIRO 7 he sees the layoffs as a positive.

“I believe that those who are displaced from Microsoft in the Seattle area will rapidly find new employment in the field,” said Lazowska.  “I believe that Microsoft will continue to hire, and I believe that the end result will be a stronger Microsoft and a stronger Puget Sound area software industry.”

Hilwa agrees that this does not signal a decline.

“At the end of the day, everything depends on how Microsoft does on its platforms, its ecosystems, with Windows, with Office 365,” said Hilwa.  “It's all about the business.”

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