With the rise of software like ChatGPT, artificial intelligence has become a very real threat to job security in multiple sectors.
Ironically, the rapid growth of AI has caused a wave of layoffs in the same industry driving its development: tech.
Following the example of Silicon Valley, the CEO of an Indian e-commerce platform made waves on social media when he announced the dismissal of 90% of his support staff in favor of AI technology.
A Tech Start-Up Based in Bengaluru, India
In a roller-coaster of a Twitter thread, Suumit Shah informed his audience (and presumably his employees) that he would replace nearly all of his customer service staff with an AI chatbot.
Dukaan, his company, is a tech start-up based in Bengaluru, India, that enables merchants to sell through their own online stores.
“We had to lay off 90% of our support team because of this AI chatbot. Tough? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely,” shared Shah in his first tweet, a tone celebratory. “The results? Time to first response went from 1m 44s to INSTANT!”
It Saved Time and Money
In his subsequent thread, Shah emphasized the importance of pursuing profitability, highlighting that Dukaan had achieved an 85% reduction in customer support expenses—a number that includes the salaries of those he fired.
The young CEO described the struggle of providing customer support until he came up with a solution: “Dukaan’s own AI assistant, which would answer customer queries instantly and precisely, anywhere.”
It Was a Raging Success
Having decided upon a course of action, Shah recruited company data scientist Ojasvi Yadav (@ojasvi_yadav) to help him create the AI chatbot. In the work of two days, Yadav was able to build a virtual assistant capable of answering both general and user-specific queries “instantly and accurately.”
Not long after, Dukaan launched its new AI assistant, named ‘Lina.’ According to Shah’s tweets, the chatbot has been a resounding success for the site. After launching the chatbot before going to bed, the young CEO woke up to 200 live chats and 1400 support tickets resolved by Lina overnight. The accomplishment prompted Shah and his team to build an AI assistant personalization platform, bot9.ai—which he took the opportunity to promote at the end of his thread.
He Received Backlash For His Tweets
The public backlash to the young CEO’s Twitter thread was swift and overwhelmingly negative, despite Shah’s decision to limit replies to only the users he follows. “How do I unread this?” asked Saloni Mittal (@whysaloni) in disbelief.
How do i unread this.— Saloni Mittal (@whysaloni) July 11, 2023
Another user (@Naina_2728) reiterated the sentiment in a meme.
Many Twitter users criticized Shah for his apparent disregard for the employees he dismissed.
“As expected, I didn’t find any mention of the 90% staff that were laid off. What assistance were they provided?” @arnob1 demanded to know.
As expected, didn’t find any mention about the 90% staff that were laid off. What assistance were they provided?— Arnob (@arnob1) July 10, 2023
“As expected, ‘someone’ will get offended on behalf of ‘someone else,’ so I had this reply ready: … ‘It was a tough decision [broken heart emoji],’” Shah volleyed back at the critic.
A common theme in the replies was general disapproval of Shah’s choice to turn the layoffs at Dukaan into a social media stunt. “Maybe it was the right decision for the business, but it shouldn’t have [been] turned into a celebratory/marketing thread about it,” advised @santoshp.
“Dude, you disrupted the lives of 90% of your support team and you’re celebrating it in public. You also likely destroyed your customer support … all for a basic ChatGPT wrapper,” wrote Lakshmi Narayanan G (@_glnarayanan). “This is a new low, even for you.”
Dude,— Lakshmi Narayanan G (@_glnarayanan) July 11, 2023
You disrupted the lives of 90% of your support team & you're celebrating it in public. You also likely destroyed your customer support (disprove with good CSAT for the bot) – all for a basic ChatGPT wrapper. 🤦🏻♂️🤦🏻♂️
This is a new low even for you.
In an interview with CNN, Shah stood by his remarks and added that he believes “in a future where AI and humans work together, each doing what they do best.” He shared screenshots of his interviews with multiple media outlets in a tweet, asking the public: “Where are the words like ‘heartless,’ ‘internet angry,’ ‘outrage,’ ‘boasts firing,’ ‘insensitivity,’ ‘lack of empathy,’ ‘bragging’?”
According to their website, Dukaan currently has multiple open positions on their team, which Shah has advertised on his Twitter account: “If you’re passionate about AI, E-commerce, Product Design and want to be part of the unf*ckwithable team, you know how to reach out to us.”
“You just fired 90% of your staff, lol,” pointed out Danny Thompson (@DThompsonDev). “Why not let go of 50% and then no need to rehire, or was that planning a bit too much? … [Or] is it to help make the next viral thread?!”
Probably one of the most wildest twitter threads I have ever seen. Genuinely shocked at this.— Danny Thompson (@DThompsonDev) July 11, 2023
Man lays off 90% of his staff and said "Great idea! Time to make a viral thread about this!" Folks are so hooked on likes they completely forget about real life.
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This article, CEO Replaces 90% of Support Staff With AI And Celebrates The Occasion on Twitter, was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching.
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