Amazon freezes hiring levels in profitable advertising business

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Amazon.com Inc. is freezing staffing levels in its profitable advertising business, according to a person familiar with the matter, showing that the world's largest e-commerce company is taking more drastic measures to align expenses with slowing sales.

The headcount freeze was announced internally Tuesday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Amazon will continue to fill vacancies in its advertising business, but won't create any new positions, the person said.

"Amazon continues to have a significant number of open roles available across the company," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We have many different businesses at various stages of evolution, and we expect to keep adjusting our hiring strategies in each of these businesses at various junctures."

The decision to keep the advertising unit workforce at its current level shows Amazon is looking to squeeze more profit out of the fast-growing business in the busy holiday quarter. Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in a media call last week that Amazon would continue to invest in its advertising division and its cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services, while looking for other places to cut costs.

Amazon's business—largely sponsored on its web store—generated $9.55 billion in the quarter ended Sept. 30, an increase of 25% from the same period a year earlier.

Amazon shares have dropped 13% since Oct. 27, when the company projected the slowest revenue growth ever for its holiday quarter. Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy has been busy reducing expenses in the face of sales that have come off their pandemic highs. Amazon in October imposed a hiring freeze on corporate roles in its retail and has been cutting and shutting down several experimental and smaller programs to reduce costs.

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