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Netflix to Lay Off 50. Blames Silverlight.

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In a corporate blog post today, Netflix (s NFLX) said 50 of its technical specialists in its customer service group will be let go at the start of next year. The reason? The company isn’t blaming the economy, it’s blaming Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Silverlight. From the post:

For those of you who watch movies instantly on your PC or Mac, you may have noticed our player is much easier to install and use now with Silverlight. The good news is fewer problems for you. The bad news is that we are now overstaffed with technical specialists in our Customer Service (CS) group.

Fifty of these technical specialists will work through the holidays and then be let go in early January. Fifteen specialists will take new roles in the main customer service group.

We thought it odd that the company would be reducing headcount in streaming technical support, as streaming is one area where the company is expanding its efforts. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even told us at NewTeeVee Live that the company was struck by how many people were watching on their laptops. Plus, Silverlight penetration is still not as ubiquitous as Flash, so it would seem you’d need technical people to help with the impending installs.

I asked Steve Swasey, Netflix VP of corporate communications and author of the Netflix post, about the cuts (note to all other Netflix employees, Swasey was online and answering emails at 6:46 a.m.). He sent the following response:

“The tech support folks have been underutilized. They’re specialists and the calls are able to be managed by our main Customer Service group, which continues to grow. In January we will add at least as many people to the main CS group as we’re letting go from the tech group.”

Swasey also said that it hadn’t been getting the level of inquiries from Netflix members that required the higher level of technical expertise in customer service. Any technical issues people have with streaming will be handled by the main customer service team.

The Netflix streaming service hasn’t exactly been problem-free as of late. Users of the Roku and Xbox flavors of Netflix streaming were plagued by poor video quality issues that was caused by an mysterious glitch. Netflix fixed the issue, but declined to identify what happened.

In other Netflix news, TiVo turned on its Netflix streaming capabilities today.

14 Responses to “Netflix to Lay Off 50. Blames Silverlight.”

  1. เวย์แม็กซ์…….เทรนใหม่ของคนรักสุขภาพ! เวย์แม็กซ์ เป็นเวย์โปรตีนสูตรผสมเข้มข้นที่ผลิตจากนม นำเข้าจากประเทศแคนาดา เหมาะกับทุกเพศทุกวัย โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งนักกีฬา นักเพาะกาย คนที่ต้องการเพิ่ม หรือกระชับกล้ามเนื้อ หรือลดน้ำหนัก และคนที่ออกกำลังกายเป็นประจำ มี อ.ย.ทุกรส ปลอดภัย ทานแล้วไม่มีผลข้างเคียงใดๆ ค่ะ

  2. Sorry for the late reply; didn’t realize comments were still lively.

    “Joe the Rocket Man”, Netflix kept their backend in WMV, and switched on clientside from Windows Media Player to Silverlight. Offers Mac access now, for modern Macs using common browsers. Support costs are still high though, as comments at attest.


  3. Silverlight Sux

    Its so good they laid of 50 employees and the remaining employees simply say, “its not our problem call microsoft”.
    Doesn’t take a specialist to say that. Silverlight works on all sites but Netflix. Buh-bye Netflix!

  4. Joe the Rocket Man

    So let me get this straight: They’re saying that by switching to Silverlight from Flash, they eliminated the need for 50 employees b/c Silverlight is (inferrably) so much easier to use and maintain?

  5. People always hate to talk about when they are laid off. But as it has become every day’s news headline since Yahoo started it with cutting 1500 of its task force last year, now a need of platform has been in demand where people can express their selves in words how they are feeling about their company, whey the got laid off was that justified or not.
    And every thing they want to tell anonymously.And is providing you that platform.

  6. This may seem evil to those who were laid off…

    But isn’t the whole point of improved technology to be more efficient than humans? And isn’t the inevitable result of that being that people will lose jobs and need to find new ones?