Major Layoffs Reported At Amazon And ComiXology

ComiXology staffers are reporting widescale redundancies today across the digital comics publisher and distributor, as well as its parent company, Amazon.


Today, there are significant redundancies and firing occurring at Amazon, with executives sending statements to staff. This included staff members at the digital comic book publisher and distributor ComiXology, acquired by Amazon and later integrated into the main Amazon site, with reports of up to 50% layoffs.

Former ComiXology CEO and co-founder David Steinberger, who sold ComiXology to Amazon, tweeted, "Feeling for the @comiXology and @amazon folks being cut today. Super talented folks that will land on their feet, for sure, but today it just sucks. Reach out if I can be useful."

The other ComiXology co-founder, John D. Roberts, added, "Saddened to hear of all the cuts at @comiXology and @amazon. The crew at comiXology are some of the best people I ever worked with, this is truly a loss. Happy to help if I can so please, feel free to reach out"

Self-described "Comixologist" Scott McGovern, who worked as a Program Manager at ComiXology, tweeted, "Can confirm. There have been numerous cuts at @comixology this morning. Myself included."

In a longer series of tweets, he wrote "So. Comixology. My name is Scott and I spent my ~10 years at Comixology working on the pages and lists customers clicked on, the pulllist (way back when)…. and the discount sales that everybody likes. It'd the best job I ever had, and the best people I ever worked with. This morning, there were significant cuts to the Comixology staff. I have no numbers to share, but it looks like, from the outside, that at least 50% of the staff have been let go. Possibly 75%. One of the things I've noticed over the years is that CMX employees rarely mention much about their jobs on social. Obviously, there's clauses in contracts about all this, but we generally kept our mouths shut, even on the worst days. But there's another reason. We loved our jobs. We loved comics. We loved manga, we loved super-heroes, we loved young adult & middle grade, we loved graphic novels, single issues, all of it. All of it. And we loved working with each other. We really did – that's not horsesh-t.

"See, a lot of people at tech companies move around every 2-3 years," the thread continued. "They go some place new, learn something new, take on new duties, get promoted, and then move on to their next adventure. Not us. Many of us stayed. Because our passion for comics and respect for each other was off-the-charts. How often in life do you get work with people like this? How often do you get paid a salary and healthcare and benefits that allow you to go on vacation and take sick time, and all that in comics? It's very rare. I'm so grateful for the opportunities I was given. And always, always, always grateful for the people I worked with. You really don't know, because we never talked about it. But we worked our asses off because of our love of the medium – and each other.

"As for what happens next, I don't know," in the last series of tweets from the thread. "You'll have to ask @comixology or @amazon . I suppose a statement will be coming forward at some point. I don't know what the future of digital comics (@comixology) is at Amazon. Sadly, I'm not optimistic. But I know that for ten years, 100's of people busted their ass in every way possible to make Comixology happen. And even knowing how it ended, I'd do it all over again. To my co-workers, whom will always have my eternal respect: It's time to tell your stories. Tell the good parts. Let people know how much we loved comics. And still do. Don't lose faith or hope, my friends. Tom & Jeff – if you see this: It's not your fault. We all did the best we could. As for me, I'm, uh, gonna be looking for new work. Don't know if I'll stay in comics – although 15+ years in thee industry does add up. I think though, this week, I'll have a bourbon, maybe two.  And think about the great work we did together, and all the good times (and a couple of the bad). To you, my friends, and now-former co-workers. We didn't deserve this ending, but what an adventure. Thank you for everything."

Tia Vasiliou tweeted, "You may have seen the news that comixology was among the latest Amazon layoffs. Myself included. If you know of any opportunities for someone with experience in content policy and ops, writing, editing, curatorial, or project management, my DMs are open." David replied, saying, "Tia, I'm so sorry to hear that. Everyone else: Hire Tia for all of the above." John added, "I'm sorry to hear that Tia, please let me know if I can help in any way."

In 2014, Bleeding Cool ran the story that Amazon was buying digital comic distributor and publisher ComiXology three weeks before it was officially announced. At the time, this was painted as giving ComiXology a far greater reach, but over time that began to changeEight years on, as part of continuing merging operations between ComiXology and Amazon, big changes kicked in, with reduced services and merging with Kindle with user-friendliness destroyed and complaints emanating from across the industry.  Today's changes can be seen as a continuation of this story. Might Chip and David have something to offer in 2023?

Amazon Closes ComiXology Website, Merges Accounts With Amazon
ComiXology Logo

This was the note that came from Amazon Retail CEO Doug Herrington. Interpret as you see fit.

I want to send a note that today we will be notifying employees impacted by our decision to reduce our Amazon WW Stores corporate headcount. Notification emails will be sent out to impacted employees shortly, and we expect all notifications in the U.S., Canada, and Costa Rica to be completed *end of the day today. In other regions, we are following local processes, which may include time for consultation with employee representative bodies starting as soon as today and possibly resulting in longer timelines to communicate with impacted employees. And in China, we will notify employees after the Chinese New Year.

While it will be painful to say goodbye to many of our talented colleagues, it is an important part of a wider effort to lower our cost to serve so we can continue investing in the wide selection, low prices, and fast shipping that our customers love. During Covid, our first priority was scaling to meet the needs of our customers while ensuring the safety of our employees. I'm incredibly proud of this team's work during this period. Although other companies might have balked at the short-term economics, we prioritized investing for customers and employees during these unprecedented times.

The exit out of Covid this past year was challenging, with labor shortages, supply chain difficulties, inflation, and productivity overhang from growing our fulfillment and transportation networks so substantially during the pandemic, all of which increased our cost to serve. As we head into 2023, we remain in uncertain economic times. Therefore, we've determined that we need to take further steps to improve our cost structure so we can keep investing in the customer experience that attracts customers to Amazon and grows our business.

Our plan to improve our cost structure will unfortunately include role reductions. It is painful and rare for us to take this step, and I know how difficult this is on the individuals impacted and their loved ones. Our goal is to make sure every impacted employee is assisted in this transition, so for example, in the U.S., we are providing packages that include a 60-day non-working transitional period with full pay and benefits, plus an additional several weeks of severance depending on length of time with the company, a separation payment, transitional benefits, and external job placement support. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you affected by the planned changes for your contributions to our customers and your broader team.

Role reductions are one of several steps we are taking to lower our cost to serve. We are also increasing local in-stock of the most popular items, making it easier for customers to consolidate shipments for multiple items, and increasing the ways customers can buy the low-priced everyday essentials they need to keep their households running, all with the aim of reducing our network and delivery costs.

And by improving our cost structure, we are also able to continue investing meaningfully in big growth areas such as grocery, Amazon Business, Buy with Prime, and healthcare.

To those who are staying, I know this is a difficult time for you, as well, and it's important we support one another. We are saying goodbye to people we've worked closely with, and there is plenty of hard work ahead as we innovate on behalf of customers. Although I would prefer not to eliminate even a single role, we are making these changes now to keep investing in improving the customer experience, which will strengthen our business for the long term.

As I've shared with many of you, I have never been more optimistic about the opportunity in front of us. For over 25 years, we've innovated on behalf of customers, and in so many ways, we are just getting started. Lowering our cost to serve will be a core priority for us in the years ahead to fund even more innovation. It's not just about doing more with less, but rethinking how we serve our customers, how we organize internally, and what new areas of innovation we invest in. Every team has a role to play in finding ways to reduce costs while improving selection, pricing, and delivery speeds. I am confident that Amazonians will bring their ownership, innovation, and bias for action to this challenge, unlocking even more value for customers.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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