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Microsoft Shuts Down Silicon Valley Research Lab, Amid Broader Layoffs

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The company laid off 2,100 employees yesterday, and today is shutting down Microsoft Research Silicon Valley.

Credit: Asa Mathat

Microsoft laid off another 2,100 employees on Thursday, as part of the software giant’s previously announced plan to reduce its ranks by 18,000.

What wasn’t expected, however, was that the latest cuts would include shutting down the company’s esteemed Silicon Valley research group, a powerhouse of computer science talent tasked with dreaming up Microsoft’s next product lines and pushing forward the computer science field.

That decision will affect more than 50 top-level engineers and scientists, the bulk of the staff at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, according to a source close to the company. A few researchers may continue to work on projects from Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, Calif., but the lab itself will close.

There’s an obvious risk in letting go staff focused on inventing new business lines for Microsoft, particularly given the company’s struggles to make the leap to the mobile computing era. But the company is confident that it is continuing to invest at an appropriate level in research and development after these cuts, the source said.

Microsoft Research’s 11 other worldwide labs will continue operating as before, including the main facility in Redmond, Wash. Following the layoffs, the company will still employ more than 1,000 scientists, constituting one of the largest basic research teams within a corporation. Ongoing research projects will be consolidated across the remaining labs.


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