Not much information makes its way out of the Valve corporate headquarters….ever. So when you hear of layoffs at the private mega-company, you might want to take note.
From a report by Gamasutra, it was confirmed that multiple employees were fired recently in an effort to change things up at Valve. Several contacts close to the company suggest that this is part of a “great cleansing” and that “large decisions” have been made.
These firings seem to have affected more than one area of business, with the report saying that there were people let go in both the hardware and Android departments (among others).
On the hardware side, Jeri Ellsworth was the one major name that came up as a casualty. Her tweet yesterday was simply, “Yup, I got fired. Time for new exciting projects.” Wow, she took that amazingly well.
This layoff in particular is surprising because Jeri has been one of the main people working to bring Valve hardware into the living room. Valve started in this direction because they were frustrated with the lack of innovation in the market. So, were these layoffs due to the company realizing that the task was a lot harder than they originally expected?
Although we may never know, because Valve has absolutely zero obligation to give us the details behind these types of things, we can speculate on why they are changing directions.
New ventures come with major costs, and Valve, with their nearly spotless track record, may have gotten ahead of themselves. This could be one of the few examples of Valve being a bit arrogant and thinking they can revolutionize the space because of their previous success.
When thinking of hardware, the reorganization may point to the fact that the company’s “Steam Box” project could be hitting headwinds in development. Some worries about this device include the sheer expense of creating such hardware while keeping the performance up to Valve standards…probably not very easy. The other concern is competition. With the announcement of the Ouya, Project Shield and the Razer Edge (all of which came with generally strong initial receptions) Valve has a lot of other challengers to deal with…..oh yeah, and Apple.
Being a company that provides an excellent product that is constantly improving, I am sure Gabe Newell came to the decision by keeping in mind that the evolution of business practices is essential in moving his company in the right direction. I have a feeling ‘ol Gabe knows exactly what he is doing and that he believes this short-term pain will end with long-term gains.
What are your thoughts on the “surprise” layoffs. What direction do you think Valve should be trying to go moving forward?