[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Sept. 14, 2013.]
MSN is cutting a substantial number of its freelancers, contractors and vendors — all apparently in a move away from providing original content as Microsoft focuses on becoming a devices and services company.
Microsoft declined to say how many people will lose their jobs.
Some who have been affected estimated that at least 100 people working for the MSN Entertainment channel have been cut. Other cuts reportedly range across MSN’s channels, including News and Money.
“Bloggers, freelance writers, producers, as well as editors are being let go left and right,” said one person affected by the cuts.
Full-time Microsoft employees do not appear to be affected. But MSN has many contractors, vendors and freelancers who provide, edit or produce much of the news portal’s content.
Microsoft declined to say how many full-time employees, and how many contractors, work at MSN.
The reduction comes about a year after Microsoft had saidit was boosting its support for news after the company’s breakup with NBC over their MSNBC.com joint venture.
Microsoft said earlier this week the cuts are part of the larger companywide reorganization announced in July intended to transform the software company into one that provides devices and services.
MSN gets about 480 million unique visitors worldwide a month — about 115 million of them in the U.S. — and had been in the same perennial money-losing Online Services division as Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. That division lost $1.28 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30.
Under the sweeping reorganization, MSN and Bing are still in the same division — now called Applications and Services — along with Office and Skype. The division is charged with producing apps and services related to productivity, communication and search.
In recent months, the company has seemed to be lavishing far more attention on Bing than MSN, touting it as a platform for developers, and as a way to power searches across a range of devices and services with the upcoming Windows 8.1.
[Continue reading the story here.]