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13th Jul 2023

CEO fires 90% of support staff, claiming AI outperforms them on every metric

Steve Hopkins

He said it was the ‘start of something beautiful’

An e-commerce CEO is giving the boss who went viral for firing 900 people over Zoom a run for his money on the bad-boss stakes.

In a tweet now viewed two million times, Suumit Shah explained how he had to layoff 90 per cent of his company’s support team because of this “AI Chatbot”.

The 31-year-old boss of the Dukaan platform explained that the decision was tough, but “absolutely” necessary, before detailing just how much better AI was at the job than the people he let go.

In overhauling the customer support branch of the company based in Bengaluru, India, Shah said the time to first response went from 1.44 seconds to “instant”, resolution time went from two hours and thirteen minutes to just over three minutes and customer support costs plummeted 85 per cent.

Dukaan helps businesses set up their online storefronts.

Shah’s tweet was the start of an explanatory thread where he said he started feeling like the character Edward Morra in the movie, Limitless, and it was the “start of something beautiful”.

The tweet wasn’t well received and reminded some commenters of Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg, who went viral in December 2001 with a heartless mass-layoff done over Zoom. In around a minute he axed 900 workers, “effective immediately”.

One Twitter user attempted to provide context to the layoffs, writing: “Note to all young starry-eyed startup folks – Make no mistake. The support team was laid off here because business is failing and funding is dry. Not because of AI.”

Another just slammed Shah for his approach: “What horrible storytelling. No emotion, no empathy.”

Echoing the sentiment, another commenter wrote: “This is extremely disrespectful towards all the people who were laid off.

“And a founder is boasting about layoffs along with a new feature in the same thread?

“This leaves such a bad taste for everyone who knows Dukaan and have followed its journey.”

Shah told Insider that he let go of 23 of the 26 members of his support team, reducing the Dukaan headcount to 60.

He battered aside the criticism, saying AI taking jobs was inevitable.

“AI is taking our jobs,” he told the publication.

“Over time, everybody will start doing this. It’s not just us. Maybe I’m just too straightforward to have put it on Twitter.”

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