The move is surprising for those familiar with the industry, since Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had said that the company would be cutting 10% of its salaried staff but increasing the hourly jobs. The team that was laid off in San Mateo, California worked on evaluating customer vehicle data, which is used to drive the autopilot driver assistance features. Many of the 200 workers worked as data annotation specialists on “data labelling.”
According to the Bloomberg report, of the 350 employees that were at the San Mateo facility, some workers had already been shifted to another location in the last few weeks. The cuts seem to be part of a larger goal of the company to trim its ranks after the last few years’ hiring surge. The electric carmaker has expanded rapidly, setting up a factory in Berlin and moving its base of operations to Austin, Texas.
Just this month, Musk, who’s become increasingly known for his statements on social media platform Twitter, said that cuts were likely, given the state of the economy. Later, at the Qatar Economic Forum, the billionaire told Bloomberg that the cuts would hit salaried employees first. He went on to say that in a year’s time, the company’s headcount would grow.
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The cuts are all the more surprising, given that data annotation specialists, who worked on “data labelling,” the process of giving raw data (like images, sounds and videos) to a machine learning model, is especially important to the carmaker. It is what drives the technology behind Tesla’s powerful neural networks.
Many of the job cuts have come to areas that grew too quick. Human Resource employees and software engineers were amongst the lay offs, with some of them having been at the company for just a few weeks.