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Joel Klein’s Amplify Lays Off 2/3 of Its Employees: “The Cold, Inhumane Hand of Capitalism at Work”

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This morning, Amplify laid off two-thirds of its staff–some 800 people. Amplify is a division of Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Its CEO is education reformer Joel Klein. Murdoch invested $1 billion in Klein’s Amplify. NewsCorp has been trying to find a buyer for Amplify since it has never earned a profit in the five years of its existence. This past year it lost $371 million.

“In a tweet this morning, Alex Modestou wrote that Amplify Education laid off 800 employees today. The Observer has reached out to the company to confirm. NewsCorp has been looking for an investor to take over the division, as the Observer previously reported.

“Multiple sources inside and outside the company said that most of its staff lost their jobs today, effective immediately, at around 10:30 a.m.

“Mr. Modestou told the Observer in a phone call that he worked part time on the math curriculum for the company in its Durham office, before being let go today at 10:30 a.m. Mr. Modestou wrote the tweet, he told us, because full time employees had been offered three months salary in a lump sum in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. He did not sign because he was not offered any kind of package.

“He said, “This is like the cold, inhumane hand of capitalism at work, and it seems wrong that they could stay in the shadows.”

“The 800 employee figure was based on an estimate Mr. Modestou made based on documents he’d seen before leaving. When Amplify announced it was first looking for a buyer, he said that people in the company had warned staff to expect layoffs of a sixth of the company. That rose to half over time. If 800 people were laid off, that would be roughly two-thirds of the reportedly 1,200-person company.

“Another source told the Observer in a phone call that employees in New York City were taken to meetings in the company’s Manhattan office and its Dumbo offices today. Employees in the Manhattan office were told that they were either keeping their job or they would be staying longer to help with the transition, in some new role.

“Mr. Modestou said that he and his fellow employees were told by Amplify CEO Joel Klein and Amplify Learning President Larry Berger via a conference call. We’ve also heard that this is how employees sent to the Brooklyn office were told. Mr. Modestou described the call for us, saying that “They didn’t say anything but ‘we’re letting you go’ in very lawyerly terms.”

“He added that the pair added a note of appreciation for their service and an apology that they had let the company grow larger than its revenue could support.”

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