Stack Overflow experiences layoffs as engineers turn to AI for assistance

Coding community Stack Overflow has announced that it will be laying off 28% of its staff due to a decline in online traffic. The company experienced a decrease in traffic earlier this year as coders turned to AI for answers, as previously reported by Insider. This shift towards AI for software development help has led to a decrease in the demand for Stack Overflow's services, resulting in the need for layoffs.

The use of generative AI models, such as GPT-4 and ChatGPT, has become more widespread among software engineers and programmers. These AI models, along with specific AI-powered coding services like Codex and GitHub Copilot, provide answers to coding questions, making the 15-year-old online forum less necessary. OpenAI's GPT-4 was released earlier this year, and by April, Stack Overflow's online traffic had dropped by 13% compared to the previous year.

Stack Overflow has recently announced a second round of layoffs after already laying off 10% of its workforce in May. This decision comes after the company had significantly increased its headcount in 2022. Stack Overflow sold to an investment firm for $1.8 billion in 2021.

The company has been trying to adapt to the changing landscape by charging other companies for the use of its data for AI training. Stack Overflow has also developed its own generative AI model, Overflow AI, which was released as a test version in July.

Stack Overflow CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar stated that the company's changes were aimed at minimizing the impact on its employees. However, the layoffs were deemed necessary due to the ongoing decline in traffic.

Chandrasekar believes that Stack Overflow's human element is still indispensable, as reliable sources of truth are needed for AI models. The company has a wealth of human experts providing answers and expertise, which is valuable in ensuring the quality of AI-generated content. However, it remains to be seen how Stack Overflow can retain these experts in the face of the growing popularity of AI.

As the coding community continues to evolve, Stack Overflow is adjusting its strategy to remain relevant. While the company faces challenges in the era of AI, it is working towards finding its place in the broader industry shift.


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