Sun, Sep 18, 2016 - Page 16 News List

Skype to close UK office: report

‘WRONG DIRECTION’:The company is one of Europe’s iconic technology businesses and the decision to close the office is disappointing, a former vice president said

The Guardian

The UK office of one of the world’s leading technology firms, Microsoft Corp-owned Skype, is to close, it has been reported.

According to the Financial Times, the move is likely to lead to the loss of many of the nearly 400 jobs at the London headquarters.

The reports that one of the most valuable “unicorns” — tech firms valued at more than US$1 billion — in Europe is to leave London will come as a blow at a time when Britain is trying to position itself as an attractive option after the Brexit vote.

Microsoft said it has “made the decision to unify some engineering positions, potentially putting at risk a number of globally focused Skype and Yammer roles,” the newspaper reported.

It said the firm would enter into a consultation process to help those affected by the redundancies and was “deeply committed to doing everything we can to help those impacted through the process.”

The news follows encouraging signs for the British technology industry, which was in June reported as hosting 18 of Europe’s 47 unicorns.

Russ Shaw, who served as a vice president at Skype until it was bought by the Redmond-based technology giant for US$8.5 billion in 2011, said the move was disappointing.

“Skype is one of Europe’s iconic technology businesses and a genuine ‘unicorn’ with an amazing pedigree of innovation and talent,” he told the Financial Times. “While London is working hard to build a strong base of world-class technology businesses, this decision is a step in the wrong direction.”

A former employee, whom the newspaper did not name, was quoted as saying that the move was unsurprising, because many of the people who had been at Skype when the takeover happened had gradually been replaced.

“I know it’s natural to integrate, but Skype is a shell of the company it once was,” the employee said. “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.”

Microsoft has not responded to the Guardian’s request for comment.

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