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Xsolla reportedly lays off up to 150 people based on big data

CEO's communications cause controversy as staff deemed "not present" when working remotely are fired

Xsolla, a company that provides payments solutions and other services to the games industry, has reportedly laid off up to 150 people -- based primarily on a big data analysis of their productivity.

The news first emerged from Game World Observer, which shared an email sent by CEO and founder Aleksandr Agapitov to affected employees at the company's office in Perm, Russia.

According to the site's translation, the redundancies were based on an analysis by Xsolla's big data team of each employee's activity in Gmail, Jira, Confluence, as well as various chats, documents and dashboards.

Anyone tagged as 'unengaged' or 'unproductive' was told they would be laid off because they were "not always present at the workplace when [they] worked remotely."

The email has sparked controversy due to its tone and some of the phrases used, such as the statement "Many of you might be shocked, but I truly believe that Xsolla is not for you" or the promise that Xsolla will help affected employees find new roles elsewhere in which they will "earn more and work even less."

Agapitov's conduct around the layoffs was further criticised after he posted a tweet in Russian that, across various translations, can be summarised as "Get the fuck in or get the fuck out."

There is also debate over the implications of a company using big data to judge employees' performance, especially during a period in which the majority of the industry shifted to a remote model for the first time due to the pandemic.

GamesIndustry.biz reached out to Xsolla for comment and clarification, but has yet to receive a response.

Agapitov told App2Top.ru the layoffs were made due to slowing growth of the company, and that Xsolla aimed to cut expenditure on salaries by 10%. Leadership decided this should be focused on employees with the lowest performance metrics.

The CEO told the site he expects up to 40% of the company's total headcount across all offices to be affected, although layoffs are expected to most impact the Perm office.

However, he later told Forbes Russia that up to 60 of the employees who received the email could be kept on.

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