Microsoft will close its Skype office in London
Microsoft is going to close Skype’s London office, in a move that could impact the jobs of the nearly 400 people employed there. The company told the Financial Times that is will “unify some engineering positions,” but that it “will be entering into a consultation process to help those affected by the redundancies.”
Microsoft said it has “made the decision to unify some engineering positions, potentially putting at risk a number of globally focused Skype and Yammer roles”, and will be entering into a consultation process to help those affected by the redundancies.
“We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to help those impacted through the process,” it said.
The online communications service, originally founded in London in 2003 and which was acquired by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5bn, employs close to 400 people in the UK capital.
“This is disappointing. Skype is one of Europe’s iconic technology businesses and a genuine ‘unicorn’ with an amazing pedigree of innovation and talent,” said Russ Shaw, founder of industry group Tech London Advocates and previously vice-president of Skype Emea, who left when the company was sold to Microsoft.
“While London is working hard to build a strong base of world-class technology businesses, this decision is a step in the wrong direction.”
Former employees say the move is not surprising given several Skype executives have been quietly departing over the past three years. “I know it’s natural to integrate, but Skype is a shell of the company it once was,” said a former employee, who wished to remain unnamed.
“One of the things that was always a big issue for Microsoft was that big decisions at Skype would usually always be made in Europe, not in Redmond. Now, it’s a Redmond, Microsoft-led company rather than an independent Skype.”
Dan Wellman, another former employee, wrote on the Quora site in April: “I found it unusual that while I was employed there, over a very short timespan any manager that was originally a Skype manager was replaced by a Microsoft manager. And I mean every single manager with a connection to the original company either left or was replaced.”