• Business Insider spoke to four Wayfair employees, three of which were laid off this week who described how the "Valentine's Day massacre" unfurled.
  • These employees described the news as a shock. "I thought I would be an insider to what was happening...I was completely blind-sighted," one former HR employee said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

Between 10 am and 10.30 am ET on Thursday, February 13 hundreds of Wayfair's US employees were asked to gather in meeting rooms at its Boston headquarters or log in to Google hangout video calls for a mandatory meeting with heads of HR. These employees were told that they would be losing their jobs at the company effective immediately.

Around the same time, Wayfair's CEO Niraj Shah sent out a company-wide email informing the rest of the organization of the news.

"Since we founded the company in 2002 we have always had periods where we invested very heavily in the business and periods where we have worked to drive greater efficiency of all our resources," Shah wrote.

He continued: "On reflection this last period of investment went on too long (as an example, doubling our OpEx team from 4,000 to 8,000 in just two years) and we find ourselves at a place where we are, from an execution standpoint, investing in too many disparate areas, with an uneven quality and speed of execution.

"The difficult human impact of this is that today we are telling approximately 550 people that their roles no longer exist and they will depart Wayfair."

Just after 10.30 a.m. ET a spokesperson for the company confirmed the layoffs in a statement to Business Insider, clarifying that the cuts would impact 3% of its 17,000 person workforce and that 350 of the jobs impacted would be employees at its Boston headquarters. The 3% also included a group of employees at its Berlin office who were laid off earlier in the week.

In an email to Business Insider on Friday, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that the company had not made any prior announcements about US layoffs until Thursday morning. Managers of impacted employees were informed of the layoffs in advance of the meetings on Thursday, the spokesperson said.

Business Insider spoke to four Wayfair workers from its US offices about the events leading up to the layoffs; three of these employees were impacted by the cuts and described them as a "shock," as well as sharing details about the atmosphere at its Boston headquarters as hundreds of employees were asked to pack up their desks and leave the office. All four of these employees requested to remain anonymous in order to speak frankly about their experience their identities were verified by Business Insider, however.

The 'Valentine's Day Massacre'

One Wayfair engineer, who was not impacted by the layoffs, said that workers described the events of February 13 as the "Valentine's Day massacre," falling just one day before Valentine's Day.

Up until early Thursday morning, this employee said they had no knowledge of the cuts.

At 2.01 a.m. ET members of the engineering team received a Slack message from Bill Lincoln, an associate director of engineering, which said that various backend systems were being locked as the company "processes some changes." In this message, Lincoln said that he expected to unlock these systems by the afternoon.

A former employee from the talent team in its Boston office said that they first became concerned for their job security in November after they were told by management that there would be a halt on hiring. But three weeks ago, a director at the company said that their jobs would be "fine" and they "had nothing to worry about."

A spokesperson for Wayfair declined to comment on this.

On Thursday morning, this employee was told to head to a meeting room in Boston after being informed over an email that there was going to be an "organizational restructuring" and that they were "directly affected."

"I knew I was going to be laid off," the former employee said in a phone conversation with Business Insider. "Everyone [in the meeting room] was waiting for the shoe to drop."

These employees gathered in groups of 40 in each room and were handed their severance letters along with grey tote bags and told to go back to their desks to pack up their things. "Everyone was crying," including the people that weren't laid off, the former employee said.

Another employee, who was also laid off on Thursday and worked in the company's talent management department, said that they had no idea about the restructurings until the past week despite being part of the HR team.

This former employee said they were told by their manager on Tuesday that "something was happening" and that they "felt terrible" but in the day and a half that followed, heard nothing further from their manager. "My direct manager stopped talking to me," they said in a recent phone conversation with Business Insider.

"I thought I would be an insider to what was happening...I was completely blind-sighted. It was very shocking."

This employee was laid off over a video conference call. During the call, they were told they would have seven days to sign their severance package but if they spoke poorly about the company, they would forfeit the package. All three of the employees that Business Insider spoke to worked at the company for less than 12 months and were offered two weeks severance pay.

"I don't have any bad feeling about the situation but the situation was handled very oddly in my opinion," the former talent team employee said.

"There was no warning. To me, that was very odd," they added.

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SEE ALSO: Wayfair is laying off more than 500 workers