RealNetworks to lay off 4 percent

The Seattle area layoffs, which will affect about 70 people, come on the heels of Microsoft's cutting another 800 workers on Wednesday.

Kara Swisher

The Seattle area is going to get another jobless jolt Thursday, with RealNetworks planning to lay off 4 percent of its workforce, sources said.

That's a small number--just about 70 people out of its 1,700-person staff--but the move comes on the heels of layoffs of another 800 employees at nearby Microsoft on Wednesday. The software giant has cut thousands of jobs over the last year, part of a move to eliminate 5,000 positions by mid-2010.

While the dismissals--which are likely to be announced to affected RealNetworks employees sometime Thursday morning by managers--will be global, both RealNetworks and Microsoft are tech leaders with headquarters in the Pacific Northwest.

According to sources, the reasons for the layoffs at RealNetworks are, as was the case at Microsoft, to realign the work force after the recent economic downturn and to control costs.

But RealNetworks could also hire back some of the laid-off employees, as other parts of the company are expanding.

The company had signaled the possibility of staff cuts previously, but had not been specific.

The last staff cuts at the company, which makes digital media software and tools, were larger, with about 130 employees sacked about a year ago.

RealNetworks announced better-than-expected third-quarter earnings last week, barely returning to profitability by cutting costs to make up for weaker revenue.

(Digital Daily's John Paczkowski contributed to this report.)