“Turnitin Reduces Workforce Following CEO’s Prediction of AI Streamlining”

Turnitin laid off staff earlier this year, after CEO forecast AI would allow it to cut headcountPeople worry that advances in AI will lead to job losses, but rarely does a company’s CEO openly admit that AI will help to reduce their headcount. TechCrunch learned that Turnitin laid off around 15 people earlier this year, as part of broader organizational changes. Klarna recently announced that its AI Assistant can do the job of 700 workers, shocking the industry. (Klarna later clarified that the customer service workers the AI was replacing were hired from outsourcing firms, not direct employees.) Turnitin confirmed its layoffs in a statement to TechCrunch, but not the headcount:

Plagiarism detection company, Turnitin, made headlines earlier this year when it announced layoffs amidst the rise of AI. This came after CEO Chris Caren’s bold outlook in 2022, where he shared his company’s plans to cut headcount by 20% in just 18 months thanks to advancements in AI technology.

While many fear that AI will lead to job losses, it’s uncommon for a CEO to openly admit that this will be a direct result of implementing such technology. However, Turnitin’s recent layoffs confirm Caren’s earlier comments, further igniting discussions on the impact of AI on employment.

Through our sources, TechCrunch has learned that approximately 15 employees were let go as part of organizational changes. This may not seem like a significant number for a company with over 900 employees according to LinkedIn and Pitchbook data, but it still warrants attention, especially in light of Caren’s previous statements.

During a conversation in 2023, Caren pointed out that Turnitin had a few hundred engineers on staff, but believed that within 18 months they would only need 20% of that number. He also mentioned the potential shift towards hiring more high school graduates rather than those with four-year college degrees for positions in engineering, sales, and marketing.

“And we’ll be able to start hiring a lot of them out of high school versus four-year colleges — probably the same for sales and marketing functions,” he shared, discussing the efficiency AI would bring to their workforce.

Turnitin’s software uses machine learning and AI to detect plagiarism in student writing, making it a popular choice for schools, colleges, and universities. It has also partnered with other educational platforms, including Coursera and Blackboard.

There has already been evidence of AI replacing jobs. The recent announcement from Klarna that its AI Assistant can do the work of 700 employees sent shockwaves through the industry. (Klarna clarified that the workers being replaced were hired from outsourcing firms, not direct employees.)

A spokesperson from Turnitin confirmed the layoffs, although the exact number was not disclosed:

We can confirm that there were layoffs at Turnitin earlier this year as part of broader organizational changes. However, we cannot comment on specific numbers at this time.”

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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