There’s a “Red Wedding” at Uber – But Not Just With Their Marketing Layoffs

Like so many people, I loved Game of Thrones. And that’s why ANY big company layoff that’s referred to as a “Marketing Red Wedding” gets my full and undivided attention. The fact that the company is Uber, and the “Red Wedding” description comes from Uber employees about a big layoff that took place there in…

There’s a “Red Wedding” at Uber – But Not Just With Their Marketing Layoffs

Like so many people, I loved Game of Thrones. And that’s why ANY big company layoff that’s referred to as a “Marketing Red Wedding” gets my full and undivided attention.

The fact that the company is Uber, and the “Red Wedding” description comes from Uber employees about a big layoff that took place there in late July, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

In case you never got into Game of Thrones (and yes, I know there are a couple of you), the “Red Wedding” was a massacre that took place during a wedding feast where the father of the bride had his army kill the family of the groom and slaughter most of their army. It’s based on some real events in Scottish history, including one referred to as “The Black Dinner.”

Any event known as “The Black Dinner” can’t be good, either.

“Red Wedding” references are never good

But more to the point, a big layoff described as a “Red Wedding” style massacre is not something that any company, much less a struggling one like Uber, wants to see the media talking about.

As first reported by The New York Times, all of this was about Uber laying off about 400 members of its 1,200 person marketing team “as the ride-hailing company tries to cut costs and streamline its operations after its initial public offering in May.” A Quartz story said that “the layoffs equal about 2 percent of Uber’s global staff but a third of its marketing team … (and) the layoffs are the largest at Uber since it was founded in 2009.”

I thought laying off three or four people was rough; I can’t imagine having to handle hundreds the way Uber just did.

Layoffs are an unfortunate part of life in the workplace. I’ve never had to deal with one anywhere near the size of what’s happening at Uber, but I have had to lay off a small group of people a couple of times and they were some of the worst things I ever had to do in my management career.

Uber didn’t have any experience at doing this either. As the Quartz story points out, “Uber has rarely cut employees in its 10-year history. The company laid off about 100 self-driving car operators
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