Of the recent layoff announcements, you will see one company noticeably missing from the long list—Apple. With over 68,000 tech workers downsized in 2023, Apple employees have—so far—been able to avoid the ax.
Is the iPhone maker an anomaly amidst the economic downturn that has shaken up the tech sector? Not quite. Apple was the first company to hit a market cap of $3 trillion in 2022; however, its share price fell 27% throughout the same year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected next month to report its first quarterly sales decline in over three years.
While its peers conduct layoffs, such as Google and Meta, Apple announced in January that CEO Tim Cook would take a pay cut. Also, unlike his Big Tech counterparts, Cook didn’t aggressively hire during the pandemic.
Tim Cook’s Pay Cut
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Cook’s annual compensation target for 2023 is $49 million, down from $84 million last year. This marks a more than 40% dock in pay for the chief executive.
Cook yielded to resistance over his lush compensation package, as advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services expressed to Apple shareholders “significant concerns regarding the design and magnitude,” Reuters reported. Despite the fact that stockholders ended up approving his pay package—64.4% voting in support—the billionaire CEO agreed that it should be scaled back.
Although Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took public accountability for their purported missteps that led to their respective layoffs, neither volunteered to slash their compensation to correct their wrongs. Instead, their employees bear the brunt of job losses when they aren’t responsible for the executive decisions of the company.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced 12,000 layoffs last Friday. Pichai said in a companywide memo about the downsizing, “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here and over the past two years, we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”
Similarly, in a memo to his staff, Zuckerberg announced in November that he was laying off 11,000 people, representing around 13% of his workforce. He gave reasons for the job cuts, “Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”
Apple Hired Judiciously Throughout The Years
Compared to the other Big Tech companies, Apple scaled its workforce at a relatively slow pace and has generally followed the same hiring rate since 2016. While there was a hiring surge in Silicon Valley during the pandemic, Apple added less than 7,000 jobs in 2020. In September 2022, it was reported that the company employed 164,000 full-time workers, in both its corporate and retail divisions. In August, the iPhone maker let go of 100 contract recruiters.
The Rest Of Big Tech—Not So Much
The tech companies undergoing layoffs right now hired fervently during their pandemic—and even before.
Alphabet has consecutively expanded its workforce at least 10% annually since 2013, according to CNBC. The company grew its headcount over 20% in 2018 and 2019. The growth continued, adding over 16,000 new hires in 2020 and 21,000 employees in 2021.
Since 2012, Meta has expanded its workforce by thousands each year. In 2020, Zuckerberg increased headcount by 30%—13,000 workers. The following year, the social media platform added another 13,000 employees to its payroll. Those two years marked the biggest growth in the company’s history.
Amazon has initiated its plan to separate more than 18,000 white-collar professionals from its payroll. In 2021, the online retailer hired an estimated 500,000 employees, according to GeekWire, becoming the second-largest employer in the United States after Walmart. A year later, the company expanded its workforce by 310,000. Prior to its layoff announcement, it was reported that Amazon employed 1.5 million workers, including corporate and warehouse staff.