HTC has confirmed that it’s laying off staff in order to streamline its business amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The news was first reported by Taiwan’s English language China News Agencystating that HTC was set to “strategically adjust” its staff and continue optimizing its organizational structure to reduce operational costs.

An HTC spokesperson confirmed this with Road to VR, citing a direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like many companies, we are seeing impacts from COVID-19 and global economic conditions. HTC has continued its work to reduce expenditure by optimizing processes, practicing cost control and seeking prudent uses of new technology. These efforts have brought forth positive results such as continuous growth of gross margin of our primary products. However, HTC remains under tremendous pressure,” the HTC spokesperson told Road to VR.

“After cautious discussion and study, we are strategically reallocating human resources to optimize company structure and reduce operational expenditure. This has required us to make select employee reductions across the world. We want to thank all HTC employees for their contributions and we believe these efforts will help us to meet the innovation demands of our global customers.”

China’s business and finance publication Jiemian (Chinese) reports the company’s VR department was directly affected by the layoffs. The spokesperson declined to confirm which departments are involved or the number of employees affected. A source familiar with the matter told Road to VR that layoffs won’t affect China-based staff.

This isn’t the first time HTC has needed to strategically cut staff. In 2015, the company laid off 2,250 employees, or about 15 percent of its workforce at the time. Two years later, Google acquired much of the company’s smartphone engineering talent and intellectual property for $1.1 billion, leaving it to reorganize around its VR efforts.

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Despite having captured essentially half of the VR market share opposite Oculus, in 2018 HTC laid off 1,500 of their Taiwan-based employees in the company’s manufacturing division. At the end of 2019, HTC cut an unspecified number of employees from its payrolls shortly after assuming its current CEO, Yves Maitre, who vowed to grow the company in the direction of both 5G and XR.

Outside of its smartphone troubles, HTC has had difficulties seizing the consumer VR market after its initial success with the original HTC Vive released in 2016; many of its headsets afterwards straddled the enterprise and prosumer segments such as the higher-resolution PC VR headset HTC Vive Pro and the standalone Vive Focus Plus. Arguably its second bona fide PC VR headset targeted directly at consumers, Vive Cosmos, faced a number of stumbling blocks with consumers, namely its high price and relative lackluster tracking and ergonomics.

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  • kontis

    Can’t wait for all the comments making fun of HTC. People who mock HTC are missing the whole picture.
    They notice that HTC never had proper VR tech or ecosystem that could compete (and they never had the funds for that), but usually don’t realize that HTC was, in a way, basically exploited by Valve (although it was fully consensual and they were pretty much asking for it…)

    Anyone who knew how this Valve+HTC partnership worked also knew it wouldn’t last for long as it was terribly unsustainable.

    Valve was looking for a gullible company to make hardware for them so they would make all the money on software sales on Steam. As Gaben said back then, making money with hardware profit margins is ridiculous, so he preferred when other took the huge low margin risk for him (how nice – it’s even better because he openly admitted to it).

    In case of Steam Machines those were alienware and some others companies. In case of VR it was supposed to be Oculus (“let’s give them all the tech” –> zuckerberg loves Valve’s VR room –> Facebook buys oculus -> Valve: “I made a terrible mistake” – even though Oculus announced plans for digital store long before FB bought them, but Valve the Goliath treated it as a pathetic joke of a little David) and then they found another gullible subordinate, that is HTC, which didn’t have much options, because they were struggling with phones.

    After the failure of Steam Machines and HTC trying to actually start making money / separate themselves from Steam/Valve, Gaben finally learned the lesson (and admitted to it, partially, in an interview) that in business he cannot be the only winner with other partners making pennies or it’s not going to work for too long (or at all).

    The greatest irony in the Valve and HTC story is that the actual hardware breakthrough that changed VR industry forever was made by the software giant, Valve, but the most popular VR software of all time, VRChat, was founded by a hardware giant, HTC. While Valve made the critically aciolamed super high quality HL Alyx, HTC invested in a broken, stupid social app that has probably 10000x more cumulative VR hours played by its users…

    • Sofian

      You should make a second account and have a conversation with yourself.

      • Bob

        He’s a bit of a nutter, yep.

        • asdf

          think again ass hat.

    • Trenix

      Not sure what you’re talking about, HTC Vive was the leading VR headset in the beginning when it came to performance, at least for PC gaming. Instead of improving their lenses, FOV, features, controllers, and reducing costs, they went down the enterprise route. Then they kept making a bunch of different types of headsets, complicating the whole process of purchasing a headset. The company is a big failure due to poor decisions.

      Within 4 years (or longer because of the outbreak), I’m sure Oculus and Valve will complete with new generation headsets and HTC would still be struggling or will vanish. Even with the current improvements, VR gaming is still a niche. It’s like when people were buying their first computers, expensive, crappy graphics, lacking in features, and plenty of potential. For example, Valve Index users are still heavily limited by their graphics cards despite the high refresh rates. We have a long way to go and we’ve yet to get started with FOV.

    • Bob

      Perhaps it’s time to get out of the house and stretch the legs a bit?

      Maybe see another human face?

      • Zantetsu

        What is the point of your comments? Just to make fun of people trying to have a legitimate conversation? Pathetic.

        • Bob

          If you actually took the time to read that little essay of his which blathers on into pure incoherence then you would have a better idea. Or perhaps you did and you’re feeling a little bit righteous today so you make an equally useless comment.

          • asdf

            how high are you? youre literally trying to stifle conversation for literally no reason at all. How shiity does your life have to be for you to go out of your way for that lol like goddamn i feel bad for you man.

            like who bullied you recently that made you think you have to attack people online to feel big lol?

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    Brave new World, where workers are not needed anymore. I just read that Microsoft is Replacing MSN Journalists with Artificial Intelligence. This is very scary. I work on designing/deploying assembly lines for factories and since Covid-19 hit Europe, we see enormous rise in companies inquiring if complete automation of assembly processes would be possible in their case. Usual barrier has been the price (worker costing less than automation of a work place) but now they’re willing to pay a lot more just to get rid of “human risk factor” (aka workers going on a sick leave). That’s good for automation businesses, but scary as F… if you think about it from socioeconomic perspective. We do the job and go away, rendering up to 2/3 of factory’s workforce redundant. What will all these people do in the near future? These are the places that (used to) create tons of jobs. I think UBI is a real possibility after Covid or we risk massive civil unrests in the near future. At least in the West.

    • Zantetsu

      It’s a good thing. Eventually when almost everything is automated, we can reduce the work week to 1 day per week and most work will be creative work that actually uses the human mind instead of toils of the human body.

      People already have to work much less hard than they did 100 years ago for a much higher standard of living. A huge, huge part of that is due to the efficiencies in manufacturing of which the logical next step is full automation.

      Change is always disruptive though in the short term so yes, there will be pain for people who have to alter their lifestyle or learn a new trade, some will thrive and some will unfortunately suffer. But that’s been going on for hundreds of years, and is the cost of progress.

      The real problems we have are not technical, they are political: at least in the USA we’ve created a system that creates vast wealth disparity that is only getting worse. The bounty of our collective efforts are being concentrated in the upper 1%, and that’s the single biggest problem we have, by far.

      • asdf

        100% couldnt agree with you more!

      • mirak

        No, they will just let you die of starvation.

      • Trenix

        The problems you’re talking about are political conspiracies. The 1% only exist and remain profitable because YOU personally do business with them. So if it’s someone to blame, it’s the customers like you. After enough people realize that they’re being exploited, hopefully they’ll pay extra at mom and pop shops. Take for example, I intentionally did not buy the Oculus because Facebook owned it.

        • nasprin

          The 1% exists because they own a progressively growing amount of industrial and financial capacity – this capacity is what supports our modern style of life.
          Saying that people themselves enabled them to become what their are now is the same as to blame a drowning guy for living in an area where floods happen – I mean, he could just swim away, couldn’t he?

      • david vincent

        “in the USA we’ve created a system that creates vast wealth disparity that is only getting worse”
        This system is called capitalism (I know it’s a taboo word but a bit less these days). It’s also destroying the planet and the climate.
        In this system – if we don’t destroy ourselves or our techological civilization before -, the 1% will own all the AIs and machines and us, the 99%, will just have to die of starvation.

    • Trenix

      Why do people keep blabbering this conspiracy. Automation started in 1771, since then, jobs have increase, not decreased. They said the same stuff you’re saying for years. My dad still rambles this conspiracy that robots will take away all of our jobs one day. Still to this day and we’re not even a step closer to making this a possibility. All that occurs is job displacement. In the future, we will utilize different skills and starting a new business will be far easier because of specialization.

      Think about how many jobs computers provided, how much easier automation has allowed small businesses to rise, the backbone of the economy. Things like card readers, pay pal, machines, and services that made people with a small investment are now be able to become profitable. You’re not arguing logically, but rather politically because there is not any factual proof behind it. People are being laid off because the business is failing and needs to downsize to sustain itself, usually because of poor leadership. How is anyone surprised about HTC with all of their terrible decisions, one after the other?

      • nasprin

        I heard these opinions before and always had a big issue with them – the automation that started in the 18th century did mostly automate crude labour jobs, negating physical strength requirements and allowing people to pursue a more skillful approach to working with machines. The machines themselfes were just instruments.

        Nowadays robots do not just take away heavy labour intensive jobs. They starting to make even high skilled human labour inefficient. This deveplopment happens in all branches, even though with different speed. At some point the absolute majority of people will not be able to catch up to the automation level of modern machines and will either lose their job or be forced to get an even higher level of skills.

        • Trenix

          None of what you said is the reality. Heavy labor intensive jobs, especially manual labor, will drastically drop. So what? People will just learn new skills, move to other jobs, and will create new jobs. Machines are still tools and will continue to be tools. Who programs them? Who builds them? Who comes up with them? Who maintains them? Someone has to be behind it at some point. AI is no where near, nor do I ever think it will reach the capability of a human brain.

          Everything you see these so called “robots” do, is because a human allowed them to do it. Robots don’t think, they only calculate and rely on whatever functions they have available to them, even if it means adding or rewriting previous functions. For example, I can program a dot to move on it’s own. I can rely on random generated numbers to decided where they move and I could make them avoid collision. I could even make them move to a specific area at a given time and they will take the best possible route in whatever situation they’re in.

          But is that really thinking? Of course not. Robots take jobs but create new ones. As a human I can program things to make them do stuff for me that if I did, would take longer. So that means I can create a tool and sell it for other people in the similar situation.

          • ShaneMcGrath

            A.I. is already starting to write its own code!
            Automation is nothing like last century, It is increasing at an alarming rate and exponentially. Unlike last century where WE built the machines to replace mundane jobs, It is now machine/robots building machines and robots even faster.

            To make matters worse it is cheaper for companies to automate, Increase profit margins where machines can run 24/7 all year round, No need for RDO’s, No need for maternity leave,sick leave,holiday pay,superannuation, Some warehouses hardly have any people now. You will see it even more in future as factories just have a skeleton crew for maintenance, No need for an entire workforce.

            First it was factory jobs moved offshore, Now it’s high paying office jobs moved offshore for cheap workers in 3rd world, Why pay an accountant $80k when you can get the same job done in India for $10k, Seen it with the office workers at the last factory I worked at.
            Next comes the cost cutting with automation and machine learning that will fill in yet more jobs once considered safe. What is left will be service type jobs in future, Not even sure brick layers will be safe, Already seen a machine in my country that can lay bricks for an entire house in little time. Average brick layer is around 5 bricks a minute, 300 an hour where as the machine can do over 1000 an hour and more precise.

          • Trenix

            That’s a bit misleading. An A.I. is created by code, made by people. You can have A.I. code write new code and replace previous code, but there are limits to it. They’re limited by how they were programmed. Robots make machines, but robots were made by people. You make it seem like A.I. creates itself and machines and does it far better than humans. Not even close. Humans are the creators, you seem to forget that. Behind every machines and tech, is a human. Machines also break down, have issues, and need to be maintained. A machine running 24/7 without any issues is unrealistic and deceptive.

            And as for the rest, you’re just repeated what was previously said while ignoring what I’ve said. We don’t need manual labor, humans are too intelligent for that. It will be replaced by tech and tech is stupid without human interaction and intervention. None of this will replace human’s jobs, humans will just take advantage of the new tech and create new jobs. This has been proven throughout history, you’re just refusing to acknowledge it.

          • ShaneMcGrath

            You seem to forget it doesn’t take an army of people to code an entire line of robots. 1 person can code for thousands anywhere in the world.

            You need to look at the bigger picture, It’s not going to slow down,It’s going to get faster and better.

            Plenty of articles by experts for you to look up on the subject.
            Have you worked in a factory?

            I have, Do you know how many people there is to maintain all the machines? Was only 1 person at the factory and when that didn’t work they called in a professional, Once again 1 person to fix all the machines.

          • Trenix

            I’m assuming you aren’t a programmer and haven’t coded before. Coding isn’t easy, it’s difficult and time consuming. There are plenty of amateur programmers that get away with high salaries, because the process is difficult and highly demanding. Games for example, aren’t made in a day, not even when companies provide them with game engines. For my company, we have handful of programmers and the software they produce is terrible, consisting of bugs, it’s optimized, and user-unfriendly.

            Coding is not the same as a factory. Just because manual labor goes away, doesn’t mean there isn’t any other jobs around. Is automation replacing workers in factories? Certainly. However, who’s building these factories? Who came up with the plans to make these machines? Who’s shipping the parts? Who’s maintaining them? Who is repairing them? Who is providing troubleshooting and customer service? I am looking at the bigger picture, you’re clearly the one that’s not.

            Manual labor is going to be history. The way we learn in classrooms will also be history. At the end, everything will be about creativity and using our minds to solve problems and improve our everyday lives. It’s only taking so long because of greedy big businesses with CEOs that lack creativity, and use power and their wealth to prevent this from happening. Give it time.

          • Zerofool

            AI is no where near, nor do I ever think it will reach the capability of a human brain.

            That’s most people’s mistake. Not realising how close this (AGI) actually is (10-30 years from now).
            Just read this (already outdated) two-part article:
            https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html
            https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html

          • Trenix

            Sorry, I’m not going to take some random link seriously with no credible sources. Still to this day, we don’t comprehend the brain. We’re not even remotely close to comprehending it based on numerous of neuroscientists. A brain is also not the same as a computer, we operate in completely different ways. We’re not even certain the capacity of a brain and our predictions are far more than any computer can contain, some even estimate the ability to contain the information of the entire internet. Everyday scientists also find that this number rises as they learn new things about the brain.

            The only reason we are progressing so fast with time is because of our human intelligence. The smartest AI uses the internet, which is information humans provide, to make decisions. The more people on this world, the more intelligence and creativity to go around. It’s rather simple and it’s not AI that will move us forward, it’s our ability to use AI to move us forward.

  • care package

    “strategically adjust”, lol gotta love PR speak bullshit.

  • So sad to hear this, I hope that the new CEO will bring more success to this company

    • ymo1965

      As lay offs are a sad fact of life, I should think it won’t effect their customer support. It was pretty lousy to start with.