Top Microsoft executives reportedly hosted a performance by music legend Sting at the ritzy World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday night, just hours before the embattled tech giant announced a massive round of layoffs.
Sting performed at “an intimate gathering of 50 or so people” that included top Microsoft brass and touted a theme of sustainability, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the event.
The star-studded event reportedly struck a “sour note” for some employees as they face the uncertainty of sweeping job cuts and worsening conditions in the tech sector.
Workers reportedly grumbled over Microsoft’s significant presence at the proceedings in Davos, where billionaires and elites fly each year to rub elbows and talk major global issues.
The company’s involvement included two appearances on stage by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in which one discussion in which he warned the tech industry would “have to do more with less.”
The Journal noted that events at the World Economic Forum are likely planned far in advance of the conference.
The Post has reached out to Microsoft for comment.
Microsoft laid off 10,000 employees in a cost-cutting move as the company contends with decreased consumer spending and a tough macroeconomic outlook. The layoffs were Microsoft’s most significant cuts since 2014 and represented more than 4% of its 221,000-employee workforce.
In a lengthy blog post explaining the move, Nadella wrote that the company was “living through times of significant change” and described the round of pink slips as “difficult, but necessary.”
Nadella noted that impacted workers would receive support, including “above market severance pay,” six months of healthcare and other benefits.
“When I think about this moment in time, the start of 2023, it’s showtime – for our industry and for Microsoft. As a company, our success must be aligned to the world’s success,” Nadella wrote.
Nevertheless, the Sting performance struck some staffers as an instance of bad optics.
“Maybe that was what Satya meant in his blog post by saying “It’s showtime!” one Microsoft employee wrote on the anonymous forum Blind, which verifies users based on their work email addresses.