Walmart will close three tech hubs, relocate some employees to San Bruno

Walmart says it’ll close three U.S. tech hubs and some of those jobs will be reassigned to the Bay Area. The company says this is part of its strategy to consolidate and streamline its workforce. 

Over the last few months, thousands of jobs have been cut from tech companies but the experts I spoke with say there are still plenty of jobs available and the Bay Area remains a destination for people working in tech.

Retail giant Walmart recently announced it’ll close three of the 11 tech hubs it has in the United States, including hubs in Portland, Austin and Carlsbad in San Diego County.

"Each of those hubs were not particularly large. Sometimes there were dozens of employees, other cases hundreds. So, they’re clearly consolidating those into a few different locations," said Saikat Chaudhuri, Berkeley M.E.T. faculty director. 

Hundreds of tech workers will move to San Bruno or Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas. Those who choose not to relocate will be offered severance pay.

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"A layoff is a shock and affects individuals, let’s not forget that. If you look at the overall unemployment rate in the country, it’s still at record lows. There are plenty of jobs to be had, and it’s really hard to find tech talent," Chaudhuri said. 

Walmart also announced all tech workers must work in the office at least two days a week and some may be allowed full-time remote work. Relocating workers to San Bruno signals to tech industry insiders that Silicon Valley is still thriving despite thousands of job cuts.

"It seems as though a lot of people are picking up jobs pretty quickly even though they’ve lost them. Overall, this seems to be a net gain since before the pandemic which a lot of economists say is generally a good thing," said Ian Sherr, CNET News Editor-at-Large. 

Sherr says companies are trying to balance their goals with the needs of workers and Silicon Valley still has to address some serious issues if it wants to keep attracting the best in the industry.

"Income inequality, the ability for people to find housing easily, all these other issues that exist around trying to squeeze as many people as you can into the Bay Area and be able to do it without a ton of housing," Sherr said. 

Walmart also has six international tech hubs, and the company says it doesn’t have a set date for the relocations.