Microsoft criticised for hosting private Sting concert for executives before mass layoffs

Microsoft has been criticised for hosting an exclusive Sting concert for top executives last week before announcing mass layoffs the next day.

The intimate gig of around 50 people was reportedly held last Tuesday (January 17) at a ski resort in Davos, Switzerland – where the annual World Economic Forum was being held – before announcing plans to layoff some 10,000 people the next day.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the announcement was the largest round of layoffs at the company since 2014.


Some employees told the outlet that the private gig was a bad look, adding that it was poor timing for a company-sponsored concert at the event, which was being hosted under the theme of ‘sustainability’.

A Microsoft sign is displayed in a branch on December 7, 2022 in New York City. (CREDIT: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress)

The latest round of layoffs includes the gaming developers behind Halo at 343 Industries and Starfield developers at Bethesda, and has reportedly also have affected 10-year veterans of Xbox Studios.

In a statement concerning the layoffs, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “US-benefit-eligible employees will receive a variety of benefits, including above-market severance pay, continuing healthcare coverage for six months, continued vesting of stock awards for six months, career transition services, and 60 days’ notice prior to termination, regardless of whether such notice is legally required. Benefits for employees outside the US will align with the employment laws in each country.”

Nadella added that the layoffs represent “less than five per cent of our total employee base” and are a result of “severance costs, changes to our hardware portfolio, and the cost of lease consolidation as we create higher density across our workspaces”.

Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, meanwhile, sent a company-wide email to staff last week referenced a “challenging moment in our business”, adding that the recent decisions were “painful choices” (via Kotaku).


“The Gaming Leadership Team had to make decisions that we felt set us up for the long-term success of our products and business, but the individual results of those decisions are real. I know that hurts. Thank you for supporting our colleagues as they process these changes.”

It continued that “moving forward with ambiguity is challenging, but I am confident that together, we will get through this difficult moment in time”.

“Xbox has a long history of success thanks to the work you do in service of players, creators, and each other. Your work is so deeply appreciated and valued in these times of change and is integral to our business momentum. I am confident in our future and proud to be part of this team, but also conscious that this is a challenging time and I want to thank you for everything you do here.”

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