Shutting up Shopee? Singapore shopping app sacks China staff

Shopee is to “optimize efficiency” and has already fired 3 percent of staff in Indonesia. At a meeting on Monday morning China staff were told that they would be next.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP



Singaporean e-commerce company Shopee is laying off workers in China. Staff attended a seven-minute meeting on Monday morning, and were told there would be layoffs. Those fired have already left. 

Shopee is one of the two main businesses of Sea Limited alongside a gaming company and employs 67,000 workers, about 7,000 in China. Businesses that don’t make money will see more people go. Employees say some groups, such as food, will be worse hit than others. 

Raising prices and cutting costs, Shopee shut down in France, India and Spain in the spring, and has been scaling back in Latin America. Shopee’s explanation is that it needs to focus on core business amid macroeconomic uncertainty. 

Shopee was founded in 2015 and was able to beat off competitors in Southeast Asia. By 2021, it was operating in more than a dozen countries and raised US$6 billion (40 billion yuan) to fund global expansion. But since then, growth has slowed significantly in Sea’s gaming business, leaving Shopee in a poor financial condition, reporting a loss of US$931 million in Q2, more than doubling its losses in Q2 2021. Stocks are down 80 percent from October 2021 highs.

Earlier this month, the company was reported to have canceled dozens of job offers in Singapore. CEO Forrest Li said last week that top management will forgo salaries and cut expenses. In an internal email, he said Sea has been struggling amid rising interest rates, accelerating inflation, and a volatile market, and that the “storm will likely persist into the medium term.”