Tech workers are left stranded as Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Sea, cancels job offers.

Four people interviewed by Reuters who took part in a WeChat group of around 60 people set up to discuss the withdrawal of Shopee’s offers said their offers were withdrawn just days before they started work.

A 27-year-old engineer who asked for only his first name Wang to be used said his call came a week after he arrived in Singapore after leaving a Shanghai job at TikTok owner Bytedance.

“I thought it was a scam…until I realized it was a general cancellation of offers by Shopee,” said Wang, who had already made an advance to rent a car. home.

Singapore-based company Sea said it had recently canceled some Shopee deals, but declined to say how much.

“Due to adjustments to hiring plans for certain technical teams, a number of roles at Shopee are no longer available. We are working closely to support those affected,” a company representative said.

The move follows other recent job cuts at Sea. Staff at Booyah!, a games livestream app, part of Sea’s Garena games unit, have been told they will be made redundant and the app will no longer be updated, separate sources said. Reuters, adding that projects in Sea’s development unit have also been halted.

Earlier this year, the media also reported that Shopee had laid off employees in Southeast Asia, Mexico and Latin America. Shopee declined to comment on those reports.

A PESSIMISTIC TONE

As recently as March, Sea said it would continue to invest in Shopee, which competes with Lazada, the Southeast Asia arm of Alibaba Group Holding, and that the unit’s growth remains at forefront of his concerns.

But last month, Sea withdrew its e-commerce forecast for the year. Founder and CEO Forrest Li noted an increasingly uncertain market environment and stressed the need to prioritize profitability and efficiency. Sea reported a net loss of $931 million in the second quarter, more than double the loss in the same period a year earlier.

“Their tone has never been so pessimistic,” said Ke Yan, principal analyst at Singapore-based DZT Research, who added that Sea’s strategy of using Garena’s cash flow to offset Shopee’s cash consumption was unbearable.

Sea’s handling of the layoffs was “ugly and embarrassing” and likely to damage his reputation, he added.

Sea saw its market value soar more than $200 billion last October thanks to the popularity of its Garena unit during the pandemic, but its shares have since tumbled to just $27 billion.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower said the relevant authorities were aware of the complaints about Shopee and that he was in contact with the company to find out more, but he also said that in such situations, the parties had to find an amicable solution in good faith.

The four people interviewed by Reuters said that as compensation, Shopee offered a month’s salary and, in cases where people flew in from overseas, it will reimburse the cost of airfare and temporary accommodation.

Although the possibility of legal action has been discussed in the WeChat group, those left behind by Shopee are mostly concerned about finding new work.

“The cost of legal action is too high. I just want to move on and find a new job,” said one of four people interviewed by Reuters who declined to be identified.

For her part, Wang wants to continue her job search in Singapore.

“The cost of returning to China is too huge, it is very difficult to find a new job given the economic situation there,” he said.

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