Following yesterday’s new of massive layoffs at the Comixology division of Amazon, further information confirms that calling it the “Comixology bloodbath” is sadly accurate: nearly everyone at the division has been let go, and those remaining are only there on “mop up” duty.
A subsequent tweet from Comixology employee Scott McGovern confirmed that 75% of the staff had been laid off.
Closer to 75%.
The majority of the employees are gone.
— Scott McGovern (@CocktailsAndInk) January 19, 2023
Other sources close to remaining employees within Comixology have reached out to the Beat to confirm this and give an even clearer picture of the dismantling of the staff of what was once the premiere digital comics app.
According to those insiders, all of the jobs at Comixology have been eliminated, and the entire division was laid off in three parts, some immediately (yesterday), some slated to leave in June after fulfilling remaining obligations to publishers, and a final group that will stay on until October to mop up the migration from the original Comixology site.
Remaining employees question whether all of the technical work can be completed with such a skeleton staff, but we’ve all heard that story in tech before.
While this is all brutally devastating to the business, I’m told the layoffs are, generally speaking, part of the larger Amazon staff reductions which saw 18,000 people lose their jobs this week. And as tech site Recode reported, Comixology is not the only Amazon division to be gutted; Smile, a popular charity project, was also eliminated as were various other divisions, and the giant retailer faces many issues.
Since then, founder Jeff Bezos stepped down and named a new CEO, the online shopping boom slowed, and Amazon had to dig itself out of a costly and overly aggressive warehouse and staffing expansion. The past two months have been a strange, even frightening, time inside the company, current and former employees told Recode: Amazon announced unprecedented layoffs of more than 18,000 corporate employees and began culling areas of the business, like its Alexa voice assistant division, that Bezos had long championed.
The Recode piece by Jason Del Rey is a must read for how even the biggest can mess it up. While Amazon sales soared to ridiculous heights during pandemic lockdown purchases, they predictably slowed afterwards, but Amazon invested too much in brick and mortar infrastructure like warehouses and bookstores that (ironically) couldn’t compete with existing bookstores.
Still, the Comixology situation is unique. Insiders were apprehensive about whether the platform would survive as a separate identity after the migration from the standalone site to the main Amazon site began, as announced late in 2021. Even so, the suddenness of the shutdown came as a surprise.
The outpouring of emotion from Comixology employees and the wider comics community was was all over Twitter. Like McGovern, above, this CX employee was elegiac about the passion the employees had for the project over time:
The end of Comixology as its own business unit with dedicated employees, leaves many questions going forward about the future of digital comics and publishing. But we’ll be examining those in a second post.