Generative AI forces Stack Overflow to lay off 28% of its workforce


Stack Overflow, a question-and-answer portal for developers, is laying off nearly a third of its workforce to replace it with generative AI-driven coding assistants, such as Microsoft Copilot, Amazon CodeWhisperer, and Google Bard.

“This year we took many steps to spend less. Changes have been pursued through the lens of minimizing the impact on the lives of Stackers. Unfortunately, those changes were not enough and we have made the extremely difficult decision to reduce the company’s headcount by approximately 28%,” company CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar wrote in a blog post.

The downsizing activity, which impacted the go-to-market and support teams, was a result of the company’s strategy to focus on its products and move toward profitability, especially at a time when macroeconomic conditions are uncertain, Chandrasekar said.

Stack Overflow has also restructured the remaining workforce in order to boost its Overflow AI offering, which uses generative AI to answer developer questions.

While Chandrasekar blamed macroeconomic conditions for the layoffs, the downsizing can be directly linked to the proliferation of generative AI assistants, a study from Cornell University showed.

The study, which investigated how the release of ChatGPT changed human-generated open data on the web by analyzing the activity on Stack Overflow, found that ChatGPT is displacing duplicate or low-quality content.

“These results suggest that more users are adopting large language models to answer questions and they are better substitutes for Stack Overflow for languages for which they have more training data,” the authors of the study wrote.

While the authors called out the improved efficiency of the generative AI-driven coding assistants, they also pointed out that widespread adoption of such tools may result in a shift away from public exchange on the web, which will limit the open data that developers and models can learn from in the future.

This is the second round of layoffs at Stack Overflow so far this year as the company tries to meet its profitability goals. In May, the company laid off 58 staffers. The impacted employees included positions such as UX designershuman resource professionalsproduct designers, and senior software developers, LinkedIn posts from the affected employees showed.

Layoffs at several technology companies, including AmazonMeta, Google, and Microsoft, have seen professionals across roles lose jobs since last year.

According to data compiled by Layoffs.fyi, the online tracker keeping tabs on job losses in the technology sector, 1061 technology companies have laid off about 243,141 staff so far this year, compared to 164,769 employees laid off last year.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.



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