Southeast Asian e-commerce giant Shopee recently recruited its new technologies from limbo, sparking outrage on social media in China.
“After landing in Singapore on August 25, I received a phone call that Shopee had decided to withdraw my job offer. I feel like the most miserable person ever because all my plans to start a new life here have been thwarted,” a user who goes by the handle “Linge” said on Chinese social app Maimai on Friday.
A number of others left comments below the post, complaining that they too had had their job offers recently revoked by Shopee.
“When I had already obtained a work visa in Singapore and was about to start working for Shopee, I received a call from them saying that my offer had been revoked. Few people were affected, from new grads to experienced candidates,” said another anonymous user.
The precise number of new recruits whose offers were withdrawn is unclear, but around 60 people formed a WeChat group, trying to explore countermeasures and protect their rights.
Even for the company’s recruiters, the decision to withdraw the job offers was hasty. Some new hires said they were still in contact with recruiters regarding post-integration work arrangements days before their positions were cut.
According to those in the know, all of the revoked job offers were related to research and development roles. “The company generally hires based on the headcount it had planned for the previous year, but this year, with the increase in macroeconomic uncertainties, Shopee may have made a change to reduce costs and improve efficiency. “said a person familiar with the matter.
“Due to adjustments to hiring plans for some technical teams, a number of positions at Shopee are no longer available. We are working closely to support those affected,” the company told PingWest.
The mass cancellation of job opportunities is unprecedented for Shopee. To keep up with its rapid expansion over the past few years, especially as the Covid-19 outbreak has boosted e-commerce, the Singaporean e-tailer has been hiring aggressively, attracting large numbers of software engineers from China.
For some Chinese tech talents, the intense crackdown on the internet industry by regulators in 2021 and the recent slowdown in economic growth have weighed on their career path. Moreover, the long working hours and hostile policies against tech talents over 35 pushed by Chinese companies are pushing some of them to seek employment opportunities overseas.
With its large Chinese community, proximity to China, and plentiful tech job opportunities, Singapore is a top choice for those aspiring to move overseas. Therefore, in recent years, Shopee has been regarded by Chinese engineers as the safest and most convenient way to travel to Singapore for work.
But alas, this door seems to be closing. As the company’s focus shifted from rapid growth to profitability, it began cutting costs and cutting expenses, suggesting it doesn’t need as many engineers. .
On August 16, Sea Limited, the parent company of Shopee, announced its second quarter results, with a net loss of $931 million, more than double the $433.7 million in the same period last year. . Although its quarterly revenue increased 29% year-on-year to $2.9 billion, the rate of growth was slower than in previous quarters.
As the global economy reopens, the company said it saw slowing online retail sales and growth in some markets and suspended its 2022 e-commerce guidance.
Previously, fueled by accommodative monetary policy, Sea secured significant investor funding to accelerate the expansion of its Shopee e-commerce arm, beyond Southeast Asia, into Latin America, Europe and in India.
As 2022 approaches, public market volatility, coupled with rising interest rates, inflation, war and growing investor pessimism, has led many companies to adjust their strategies. , focus more on core markets and businesses, and prioritize profitability.
Shopee followed suit, closing its operations in India and France in March, leaving Spain in June and downsizing its food delivery team the same month.
The cold has already branched out to the United States. Big names such as Meta, Google and Microsoft have announced hiring freezes, and dozens of startups have cut jobs in an effort to expand their leads until investors give them more money. Twitter, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and real estate brokerage Redfin also canceled some job postings in June.
Coinbase offered its potential former employees severance packages, which ranged from two to three months on full pay, depending on their start date. It also gave them access to a “talent hub,” where they could add their name and resume for recruiters from other tech companies, according to Wired.
Similar to Coinbase, to assuage the rage of these applicants, Shopee will offer one month’s salary as compensation and said that other expenses including airfare to Singapore, hotels, etc. could be covered.
But for now, the affected engineers are unhappy with the severance package as some of them say they put a lot of energy and time into their move to Singapore and even changed their life plans.
‘Linge’ said he has no plans to return to China in the near future, but will continue to discuss compensation with Shopee and seek other job options in the city-state. . Others said they were preparing to file a complaint with Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower over Shopee’s actions in hopes of a more satisfactory settlement.
“Going through the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) and MOM to find a settlement could be a long and trying ordeal,” said Momentum Works, a Singapore-based venture capital firm. For those still looking for a job in Singapore, ByteDance, Grab, Google and some startups etc. are all good bets, the firm suggested.
Cover image by Bára Buri on Unsplash