Microsoft has made the decision to close Skype's London offices and to let go most of the staff employed there.
The news of the upcoming closure of the video and voice chat company's original office comes at a critical time for the British tech industry, which is doing its best to show the world that it is still thriving and full of opportunity despite the country's recent decision to break off from the EU.
Microsoft defended the move to close Skype's London offices by pointing out that it “made the decision to unify some engineering positions, potentially putting at risk a number of globally focused Skype and Yammer roles.” The company will enter into a consultation process in order to do its best to help those affected by the redundancies caused by the closure of Skype in the UK.
Skype was originally founded in London in 2003 and was later acquired by Microsoft in 20111 for $8.5 billion. Currently it employs around 400 people who work in its London offices.
Russ Shaw, the founder of the industry group Tech London Advocates and previous vice-president of Skype EMEA, expressed his disagreement with Microsoft's decision, saying: “This is disappointing. Skype is one of Europe's iconic technology businesses and a genuine 'unicorn' with an amazing pedigree of innovation and talent. While London is working hard to build a strong base of world-class technology businesses, this decision is a step in the wrong direction.”
Former Skype employees were not surprised by Microsoft's decision to shut down its offices in the UK as Skype executives have been silently departing over the past three years. An anonymous employee offered insight into how the company has changed over the years, saying: “I know it's natural to integrate, but Skype is a shell of the company it once was.
"One of the things that was always a big issue for Microsoft was that big decisions at Skype would usually always be made in Europe, not in Redmond. Now, it's a Redmond, Microsoft-led company rather than an independent Skype.”
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