UC Web suspends Indian operations and lays off staff amidst border tensions

UC Web

Alibaba’s subsidiary UC Web has suspended its operations in India and has laid off nearly 90 percent of the employees. The overall workforce of UC Web in India amounts to 350 and reports indicate that over 330 people are now without jobs. It will be tough for them to find another similar job in these tough economic situation in the backdrop of COVID-19. Alibaba also laid off Indian employees working with the short video blogging platform Vmate.

According to reports, the employees working in the associate, managerial, and entry-level positions are affected. They have been informed verbally about the layoff decision over video conferencing. Moreover, employees were given a notice of 30 days prior to the layoffs. A senior UCWeb spokesperson revealed that the company has complied with the Government of India’s recent directive concerning 59 Chinese apps.

The layoff by UC Web comes in the midst of the decision of the Government of India to ban 59 Chinese apps after the deadly battle between Indian and Chinese forces. This includes TikTok, UC Browser, UC News, WeChat, Helo among others. TikTok was the most popular app since it garnered over 200 million active users. The creators and influencers who worked with TikTok have been struggling to find a reputable alternative. Even though there are competing apps, none of them matches the expectations of the TikTok.

It is to be noted that UC Web operates UC Browser and UC News in India since 2009. The UC Browser was shipped with Xiaomi smartphones without the capability to uninstall the app and was the second leading mobile browser in India.

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The browser had a significant 10 percent market share after Google Chrome. Among the 430 million active users, over 130 million are from India. The loss caused to UC Browser and UC New has been significant. The Indian employees who worked with these firms with big bounty salary also got laid off.

India also banned Mi Community, WeChat, and others that had a huge user base. Xiaomi had employed a team of volunteers for the management of Mi Community and their fate now hangs in balance. Even though Xiaomi won’t pay Mi Community volunteers for their work, people got the relevant experience they deserved including compliments like F-Codes and other prizes.

Before the 59 Chinese app ban, ByteDance had announced plans to invest up to $1 billion in India. UC Web also announced plans to expand the e-commerce business in India including launch of online movie ticketing.

We noted that several third-party companies who have been supplying hardware spares of the companies like ByteDance are also affected. We don’t see any scope for the return of the 59 Chinese apps. With the mass layoff and other measures, it will be tough for the companies to bring back the lost staff. That being said, the employees should stay positive and focus on a better future.

Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com