E-signature company DocuSign announced today that it will be laying off 6% of its workforce to support “financial and operational efficiency,” with the majority of the layoffs coming from the company’s Sales & Marketing wing. Six percent of the company means around 440 layoffs out of 7,336 employees, according to SEC filings reviewed by CNBC.
While a steady drumbeat of tech layoffs have been in the news since the beginning of 2023, it was the fact that DocuSign had over 7,000 employees in the first place that caught people’s attention online.
“Please someone explain this to me,” posted @elaifresh on X over a screenshot from DocuSign’s Wikipedia page listing the number of employees it has.
“I just started working at a 20,000 person firm and it seems sooo enormous I can’t even fathom it,” they added in a follow-up tweet. “But we, like, build bridges and structures on 6 continents. They are doing e signatures. I don’t get it.”
“Jesus, DocuSign has over 7000 employees?” posted one user on Reddit. “How?”
DocuSign is mostly known for facilitating online signatures on contracts, but offers a variety of services related to legal agreements and has the type of scale that accounts for its large workforce.
According to the company’s website, it have over 1.4 million paying customers, a billion worldwide users, and a large client base for federal, state, and local agencies. In 2021, the company also met requirements from the U.S. Military’s Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to store and handle controlled unclassified information, including documents designated For Official Use Only. In the same year, it also started providing cloud services to DISA.
The surprisingly high number of DocuSign employees is periodically marveled at online, especially when layoffs happen.
In 2022, the company announced that it was laying off 9% of its workforce, or around 670 employees, sparking a Hacker News thread trying to break down the workforce and make a “steelman” (the opposite of a strawman) argument that the amount it has is necessary.
“How would you get to 7,400 employees at Docusign? I literally can’t do back-of-the-napkin calculations that make it plausible,” one user said at the time.
Users pointed out that the amount of employees the company requires to run far exceeds just the software engineers needed to build the product.
“You can hire a lot of sales people if they’re generating enough business to cover their own salaries,” posted Hermitian909 in the 2022 thread.
“One common driver of headcount is enterprise sales and support,” ekidd added. “Once you charge at least $75,000/year, you need to put salespeople on planes, you need to provide actual tech support, and (unless you’re disciplined and lucky) you end up with hundreds of features that are only used by one or two big customers each. Enterprise software is fundamentally a whole different beast. Customers will write big checks, but they expect a lot of different things in return for that money.”
“Stories like these … always make me realize I know nothing about what it takes to run an online business,” posted a redditor in response to the news from today. “If you asked me to guess how many people worked for DocuSign, I would have guessed like 12.”
DocuSign didn’t immediately respond to questions about what their 7,400 employees do all day, but a look at their Third Quarter Fiscal 2024 report from last December shows that Sales & Marketing accounted for just under 55% of their operating expenses.