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Layoffs at Microsoft, Intel, and IBM 623

Normally I try to avoid posting straight business news, but I think that these 3 stories combine to something meaningful. Muleguy noted Microsoft is laying off 5,000, Mspangler reports that Intel is cutting 5-6k, while nonyabidness afraid4myjob submitted that IBM Layoffs have begun with no number, but estimates as high as 16,000.
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Layoffs at Microsoft, Intel, and IBM

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  • WTF is up with IBM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:05AM (#26559665) Journal

    So yesterday, IBM posted great profits that beat wall street estimates []. And today they're doing layoffs? That makes no financial sense to me. Why should any company lay off people just because "Everyone else is doing it"?

    • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#26559699) Journal

      I don't know about Intel or Microsoft, but IBM is at a 20 year high for employment; the highest since it dropped 150k workers in the 90's.

      Even though they managed to pull some solid growth last year, they're on the heavy side for a significant down turn. For a company that deals in services and hardware, it'd be shortsighted not to tighten up a bit.

      Still, no fun. I sympathize with the workers over there. (Before anyone starts calling me heartless; I work for a newspaper company. My department has lost almost 70% of it's staff in the last 3 years. )

      • by momerath2003 ( 606823 ) * on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:26AM (#26559969) Journal

        I work for a newspaper company. My department has lost almost 70% of it's staff in the last 3 years.

        Well, with apostrophe errors like that, it's no surprise to me!

        • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @03:11PM (#26563729)

          Joking aside, most of the "journalism" I read today from major news outlets is filled with apostrophe errors, spelling errors, grammar errors, and just plain poor writing style. Go back 25 years or more and compare newspapers from then with newspapers from today; today's "journalists" can't write for shit. My local paper is even worse: "too-to-two" errors, words left out, just plain unintelligible writing, and more.

          Newspapers aren't just being killed by the internet; they're being killed because no one wants to pay for such poor quality writing any more, especially when many papers are so blatantly biased in their reporting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Touvan ( 868256 )

        I don't know how directly this relates to you personally (probably not much), but there are some up and coming organizations that I think are doing better reporting than most dead tree presses I'm aware of - is my prime example. They usually provide context, and aren't afraid to draw obvious conclusions - both of which are sorely lacking in "old" media like newspapers, tv and radio (Bill Moyers is an exception to that statement - the only one I can think of).

        At Ars the writers actually seem

      • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:08PM (#26560655)

        > IBM is at a 20 year high for employment; the highest since it dropped 150k workers in the 90's.

        Yes, but where? We've done a huge amount of hiring in India, Argentina, and Brazil, and have been laying off US employees left and right.

        We are absolutely cut to the bone in the US, and have been mildly dysfunctional for the last couple years as a result. Every time you try to get anything done, people have either been laid off or reorg'ed to death, and no one knows who to talk to anymore. Last year I was reorg'ed four times, and I can't even tell you who I report to beyond my first-line manager (seriously - I don't know off-hand).

      • by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) <TEA minus caffeine> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @02:21PM (#26562791) Journal

        Everything that is old is new again, including the classic IBM joke:

        Two lions escape from the zoo. They decide to split up and meet back in two months to see how the other is doing.

        Two months later, one lion is scrawny and beat up, the other is fat and happy. The scrawny beat up lion says, "I went to the park and started eating children. The police and national guard came after me and I haven't stopped running since. How are you so well fed?"

        The second lion replies, "Easy! I Just hid outside the IBM office and ate a manager every day. Nobody even noticed!"

    • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

      Well I'm not saying this is the case, but a theory would be that if everyone else is in trouble, even if IBM is not, then demand for IBM's services will go down. My sympathy to anyone who has lost their job though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Because culling the lowest 5-10% performing staff is good for the overall business, and now is the perfect time to do that because the story of your job cuts will get lost among all the other stories about job cuts and not cause you as much bad publicity.

      • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:30AM (#26560041) Homepage
        Sadly it sounds like that's not what they're doing. The articles and the leaked Balmer memo mention a number of divisions that will be included in the cuts, and product development is suspiciously lacking. It sounds like they're cutting all the fringe divisions (legal, HR, R&D, etc) and leaving the developers alone entirely. Which is really a shame, since they have a number of completely incompetent devs who need to go as well.
      • by Richard Steiner ( 1585 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:38AM (#26560155) Homepage Journal

        Don't know how it works at the there companies mentioned in the header, but it's been my experience that layoffs at many companies are based on seniority, not job performance. The jumior people tend to get the axe.

        Sometimes those people are the weakest link, but sometimes they aren't.

      • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:55AM (#26560443) Homepage

        I've got news for you, kid: After firing the 10% worst-performing staff, a company STILL has a 10% worst-performing staff, along with newly lowered moral.

      • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:24PM (#26560903)

        I had a boss who thought like that. He wanted to annually cut the bottom 10%. The problem is defining who that bottom 10% is... some of his buddies were jerks who deserved to disappear, but no chance they would go. Not to mention this constant mentality of "we have to fire people" is horrible for morale.

        Basically the people who get fired are the ones farthest from the boss who wants to do the firing. He just tells everyone they have to fire 10%, and then he gets to sleep well at night, while everyone else suffers the agonies of the damned.

        • by jcnnghm ( 538570 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:30PM (#26561955)

          You might not like it, but it does work. From 1980 to 1985, Jack Welch reduced GE from 411,000 employees, to 299,000 employees, while substantially increasing their market capitalization. Plenty of people thrive in highly competitive, pressured environments. In my experience, the ones that don't are the ones that prefer "group work" as it allows them to more easily pass the buck to the people that actually perform.

          • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:43PM (#26562153)

            Well, I've seen it once, and I can guarantee you it didn't work. In our case, we had already had pretty massive layoffs, so any deadwood was long gone. The basic problem is that you probably aren't going to get rid of the lowest performing 10%, you're gone to get rid of the 10% that the boss doesn't know or doesn't care about, regardless of how valuable those people are.

            And on a basic level, I strongly object to the idea that it's a good business practice to just keep turning up the heat on your employees. I worked for many, many years for a very successful company that thrived because we kept a strong, informed staff that knew how to work together. We were acquired by a "high pressure, gotta deliver now, fire the bottom 10%, no time to do it right just do it!" company ,and the result was dismal failure after dismal failure. So to say the least, I'm not impressed.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jcnnghm ( 538570 )

              And on a basic level, I strongly object to the idea that it's a good business practice to just keep turning up the heat on your employees. I worked for many, many years for a very successful company that thrived because we kept a strong, informed staff that knew how to work together. We were acquired by a "high pressure, gotta deliver now, fire the bottom 10%, no time to do it right just do it!" company ,and the result was dismal failure after dismal failure. So to say the least, I'm not impressed.

              That's probably because you don't have a strong enough personality for it, and the organization wasn't structured for it. Welch wasn't big on firing the grunts, he fired the bottom-performing 10% of managers. Performance motivated people need to be in place for the system to work. Strong performers loved to work at GE under Welch because they were promoted quickly and paid accordingly, with brutal honesty respected more than gushy crap.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:08PM (#26561565)

        hey man everyone who actually works for ibm knows that the real bloat is up top. if ibm wanted to save money they would take the ax to the ridiculous tripple tiered management. then you wouldnt need to make excuses for getting rid of your best guys. (and they were the best)

        stop drawing blood from the stone already and cut all the fat from up top. Why does every customer need 3 project mgrs??? why are new tools introduced and the old ones not repaired? why is every data center walk through an exercise in tickling 10 managers butts with a feather?

        its only a matter of time before they begin to feed on themselves.

        bunch of "personalities"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aceticon ( 140883 )

        Unfortunately most companies have a terrible record of cutting away the muscle along with the fat when doing a big downsizing.

        The truth is, the way it usually goes is that:

        • Whole departments/groups are fired, competent people, incompetent people and everybody in between, all together. Badly managed teams will be thrown out, even if some (most) of the non-management people are competent.
        • The reasons for dismissal of someone are not explained to the ones that stay. Being fired or not starts getting perceived as
  • by ColonelPanic ( 138077 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:08AM (#26559697)

    There's 5,000 new empty chairs to fling around in Redmond!

  • Some perspective. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:10AM (#26559719) Homepage

    Microsoft are cutting up to 5,000 from a total of 90,000 employees - 5.5% of its workforce.

    IBM might cut 16,000 from a workforce of 387,000, a cut of 4%.

    Intel are cutting up to 6,000 from a workforce of 84,000 - 7% of jobs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some more perspective: H-1B program still going strong, with up to 65,000 visas for 2009! (more if you include the universities, which are exempt from the cap as they work only for the public good, with no self-interest whatsoever.

      Step 1 to help employment: stop issuing H-1B visas. Period. No exceptions, no delay.

      • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:22AM (#26559899) Journal

        Do the words "Smoot-Hawley" mean anything to you?

        International trade is good for overall productivity, whether we're talking about commodities or services.


        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Agreed, partly. 1) That doesn't mean we should be providing tax incentives for businesses that outsource to India, either. 2) H1-B visas aren't trade per se. 65,000 H1-Bs for IT workers means 65,000 domestic IT workers without a job. 65,000 TVs imported from China, OTOH, create more jobs than they cost.
          • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:38AM (#26560163) Journal

            I will concur that our tax system is severely broken. American workers are the most productive in the world, and if we had a rational tax system (like, corporate tax rates at least as low as Europe), that would remove most of the incentive for offshore production.

            65,000 H1-Bs for IT workers means 65,000 domestic IT workers without a job

            It's not that simple. A lot of those visas do in fact go to workers for jobs that an employer can't fill locally. It's like claiming that if we forced all the Mexicans to go home, that Americans would take the fruit-picking jobs.


            • Re:Some perspective. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#26560235)

              >It's not that simple. A lot of those visas do in fact go to workers for jobs that an employer can't fill locally.

              Yeah right. Im sure thats true a certain percentage of the time but the scenario "why pay someone 80k when we can get a slave for 24k" plays itself out too.

              • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:15PM (#26560755)

                Yeah right. Im sure thats true a certain percentage of the time but the scenario "why pay someone 80k when we can get a slave for 24k" plays itself out too.

                The problem with H1-Bs is that both of you are right. You're giving two extreme sides of a continuous spectrum of arguments. Increasing supply of labor with constant demand will lower equilibrium price, so yes you can get wage slaves. Likewise, decreasing supply will raise price, so you'll get Americans demanding $10/hr to tend fields.

                Neither of these scenarios are wrong, it's a comparatively simple market situation. But the government is going to have to clarify what it means by "no available person" to fill a job. At what price? It's the law that's out of touch with economics.

              • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @05:18PM (#26565909) Journal

                How many H1-B empoyees working for 24k do you actually know?

            • Re:Some perspective. (Score:5, Informative)

              by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:19PM (#26561765) Homepage Journal

              Not quite.

              Maine is known, among other things, for the blueberry crop. This used to be picked mostly by Micmac Indians from Maine and Canada, and high-schoolers (like me) and other locals that would do what is by any measure back-breaking work for pretty good pay. I made $600 a week for a month in 1970-1972. Not bad for a student. The majority of the crop was picked that way through the 80's.

              Today, maybe a fifth is picked by hand [], and most of that by Hispanic migrants. The Micamcs mostly pick on an Indian reservation farm.

              The reality is that the major producers prefer migrant workers from away for several reasons. The one I hear the most is 'lower pay'. Just the way it is.

              I hear a complaint sometimes that migrants, illegals, etc. take jobs Americans won't do. Mostly, I suspect this is because we 'Americans' don't want to do some jobs for the pay some employers want to pay. Not the same thing as 'not wanting' a job. How did toilets get cleaned before we had a serious illegal immigrant problem?

              But the H1-B problem is a particularly nasty slap in the face. There are so many stories of qualified citizens not able to find work in fields where H1-B workers were being recruited that I'm not going to list any. Not hard to find.

              I work for a company that uses both H1-B and other immigrants liberally for many sorts of IT work. Many of us are at a loss to explain how they can claim there are no US citizens available for the wor, the skill set is not unique, and neither is the workload.

              One clever way around that they use is to contract with an offshore firm. No justification needed. the biggest number of these offshore workers are part of, you guessed it - IBM.

              We'll be dealing with this soon enough, won't we?

        • by dwarg ( 1352059 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:47PM (#26561267)

          Do the words "Smoot-Hawley" mean anything to you?

          Well Smoot was a cornerback with the Minnesota Vikings for a while, but he's best known for the "love-boat" scandal [] that made the team a laughing stock.

          And Hawley Minnesota [] is a small town near my hometown that we played high school football against.

          So I guess it has something to do with international recognition of Minnesota football?

    • Re:Some perspective. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @01:08PM (#26561571) Homepage Journal
      More perspective: Intel says that those jobs are "affected", not "terminated" or "cut".

      Intel is actively trying to make sure those people aren't cut, but rather just moved to another facility. They're just temporarily consolidating their labor into fewer plants, since the need for production has been scaled back.

      Disclaimer: I work for Intel, but I don't have any more information about this than the general public does. The only difference is that I knew about this last week, before it was made public.
  • SKID ROW, Redmond, Friday - Microsoft Corporation has enacted swingeing layoffs [] in mid-January after the failure of its stock buyback program, and has called for a government bailout in the face of the credit crunch.

    "Vastly popular operating systems like Vista just aren't selling," said marketing marketer emeritus Bill Gates, "and it's all because people aren't confident to spend their money. In fact, they didn't start buying it in 2007 because they were expecting this even then. A subsidy to buy good, honest American computer operating systems is essential to the health of the economy, or my part of it."

    Should the Big One of American virtual office supplies fail, economists predict that it could free up millions of dollars in business spending and provide a devastating boost to an economy reeling from the impact of the credit crunch.

    Hiring in most Microsoft divisions has frozen in the last six months and 30GB Zunes are already on suicide watch. "The workload's impossible to keep up with," said blog technical evangelist Gary M. Stewart. "I've even been answering Slashdot comments on Boycott Novell or Groklaw. It's impossible to keep track of! Anyway, you're just another Twitter sockpuppet. Or Mini-Microsoft. Admit it."

    Additional bailouts have been hooked on the bill as riders for HD-DVD, eight-track cartridges, 78rpm gramophones and Babbage analytical engine gear manufacturers.

    Senators have stated they will only bail the company out with a change in top management. "What the shit," said Linus Torvalds as his draft notice arrived.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elashish14 ( 1302231 )
      Rules for bailout:

      1. Crappy product
      2. Unnecessary industry
      3. Heartless executives

      I can dig it.
  • When will it end? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:13AM (#26559755)

    Economists like to pretend that they're dealing with a hard science but they are wrong, so very wrong. Economics is certainly a complex field of study but it is also one of the squishiest sciences there is. Economics is psychology with graphs and math. You can talk about supply and demand, this curve and that, but we're ultimately talking about human psychology. You can't use normal logic to figure this stuff out, you have to work with crowd dynamics, herd instinct, quit talking about how people should behave and pay attention to how they really behave.

    If you want to understand how everything is going pear-shaped, just look at the Great White club fire. Huge crowd, small venue, and the band's pyrotechnics set the place on fire. Rationally speaking, there's no reason why anyone had to die. There were sufficient doors and sufficient time for a calm and orderly evacuation. And our economists are the ones who would look at that situation and not quite grasp why there was a panic, a human log-jam at the door, and a whole lot of dead bodies. "That wasn't rational behavior! That was irrational exuberance, or maybe irrational shit-the-bed terror. The problem here is that my observations of this event do not fit my models."

    That's what we're seeing in this economy, a fire in a club. Everyone is working to maximize their own survival even though it will harm the chances for the group as a whole. Companies are shedding jobs everywhere, getting work is damned near impossible, and we've got a negative feedback loop that nobody seems to be able to break. And nobody wants to take a look at the wall where the writing stands hundreds of feet high -- "we need to reform the way we're doing business and this will change our entire economy as we've come to know it." The thought is too frightening.

    • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:19AM (#26559853)

      That's why the role of Govt. is so pivotal - not just in this instance, but also in cases where 'individualistic' impulses will not work for the common good - infrastructure development, for example.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr ( 53032 )

        Oh, for crying out loud.

        First of all, the bulk of the freshly-inflated money that those geniuses on capitol hill are giving away is going towards keeping unprofitable ventures in business, not towards building roads. Secondly, every dollar that the government taxes, borrows or inflates is a dollar that's taken from private parties and spent on things that those people have not chosen to spend it on. Government can not "stimulate" an economy by increasing government spending, as Hoover and Roosevelt thoro

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 )
          Government can, however, get useful productivity out of people who would otherwise be unemployed. Better to have people working for government funded projects than to pay them the money as welfare checks instead.
        • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:54PM (#26561375) Homepage Journal

          Bullshit. The money that governments are currently spending on bail-outs and stimulus programs is not coming from any private parties. It is coming from the future.

          It is coming from the future in the form of debt. It is based on the faith that eventually there will be enough wealth to cover the tremendous costs of yesterday's bad decisions and today's corrective actions. These debts are high risk since there is no collateral to back them. However, if these become bad debts, that means we're screwed anyway. We'll be back in the day when it is more valuable to know how to clean a pig sty than to know Python or even the Pythagorean theorem.

          It isn't like we've got much choice in the matter. Marketplace decisions for the last few years have left us with trillions more dollars on paper than there is real wealth to back, and with all the risk management schemes, there is no way to attach the shortfall to any one region or segment. It's now a general system failure. We're screwed if we don't act, and we might be screwed no matter what we do.

          It would be nice to see those who were responsible for watching the marketplace who should have raised the alarm about this five years ago hung screaming by their cojones in a Texas desert. That wouldn't help us out of the bind the world is now in, but I and others would feel a bit better if that were to happen. Which should count for a little something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Skreems ( 598317 )
      Getting work is nowhere near impossible if you're really good at what you do. I quit MSFT about 4 months back (they just pissed me off too much to continue there) and went to work for Amazon. Now MSFT is in layoffs, and we still can't find enough qualified people to fill our open headcount. Not coincidentally, the working environment is much more relaxed and friendly, pays significantly better, and we actually keep out the cruft that MSFT gladly hired when they started lowering their standards 5 years ago.
    • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:25AM (#26559951) Journal

      It's not for private enterprise to try and throw itself on the economic grenade. They're SUPPOSED to save themselves, their stockholders can SUE them if they don't try to save themselves, and having the whole crash next year when you could have cut sensibly beforehand is ridiculous.

      The whole point of the capitalistic system is that the individual knows what is best for themselves. They need to act to preserve themselves, just as (in better times) they need to act to increase their gains.

      Now obviously, this isn't good for the whole in times of crisis. That is where the government can step in, to pump money into the economy through targeted public works and infrastructure projects. Which is what it's been sorta doing...

      This bank bailout crap has been a fiasco in terms of loosening up money, which also needs to happen. The other prong of recovery is often new private enterprise, which is fueled by large numbers of skilled workers who are no longer employed, but that usually requires some start-up capital, and that's problematic right now.

      Anyway, socialist chicken little freak outs don't really help either. It's not the duty of the company to provide jobs, it's to maintain themselves. In the long run, that preserves more jobs.

    • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:58AM (#26560489)
      Well psychology is a real experimental science. Economics isn't. That is why economics is strongly affected by politics. Do you ever hear of liberal and conservative chemists? Or even psychologists? Furthermore, economics doesn't want to acknowledge the findings of psychology, so it is just plain wrong on many things. Economics is a social science like sociology. It is a discipline that attempts to be reasonable, but is ultimately not guided by the discipline of experimental results or even the need to only propose testable ideas. There is a lot of sophisticated math in economics, but without experiments that is just a rich toolbox to make up any story you want about anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )

      Is it damn near impossible to get a job? Are the job listings on Monster, etc. really empty? My experience suggests not. Unemployment is higher than it has been in a long time, but it is still less than what is normal for Europe.

      It's just another recession, man. Don't buy the media panic. Fear is their business model.

  • Perfectly normal (Score:3, Informative)

    by carvalhao ( 774969 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:16AM (#26559811) Journal

    This is a normal management decision. When you have prospects of declining growth, cutting 5 to 10% of your under-performers is just good management.

    Rationality aside, my sympathies for the families of those being laid off (although in the USA job market this is not such a big deal).

    • by Hodar ( 105577 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:37AM (#26560133)

      Jack Welch, when he took over GE started the whole 10% of your under-achiever hog-wash.

      Now, if you have poor achievers in your company, who have been there for decades - as GE had - perhaps a 1 time 'cleansing' is necessary. But, if you are doing your interviewing competently, and are teaching and mentoring your new hires - to continuously 'fire' 10% of the workforce is not only stupid, it's counter productive.

      Consider, how long does it take a person to learn his job function and all the nuances that take it from being merely fulfilled, but where he can then magnify it? Given the proper motivation, a below average performer can become a top-performer. If a person knows what's expected, is shown how to do this, and is encouraged - he will either refuse to conform (termination case) or he will improve. I've seen this, I've done this and it works.

      Other employees see this, and morale improves. People do not want to leave that group/company. Motorola USED to be like this. When Samsung came into town, they had to offer 20%+ salary bumps to attract Motorola employees to leave. Why? Because the people at Motorola knew that they were 'safe', that they had a career and a future with the company. Then Hector Ruiz came along and killed Motorola, before moving on to AMD and killing them.

      I do not subscribe to the 10% cull; because you very quickly come to the point that you are cutting good people, and replacing them with good people who you will fire in a year or so. This creates a hostile work environment (why should I welcome you, help you or agree to work with you - if I'm competing against you to keep my job?), slows projects down (people shift departments constantly, at the slightest rumor of a reduction in headcount in a particular division), and you spend a great deal of your time where 90% of your employees are waiting for 10% of the team to come up to speed with their job requirements.

      Show me a company that embraces the 10% cull, and I'll show you a company that is on the way down the tubes. Companies that terminate the poor performers, not due to some obscure quota, but do to performance - tend to retain their employees for the long haul. IBM used to be famous for this, and they rose to world domination. Motorola used to embrace this, and they used to have a world-class semiconductor market, communications division, automotive parts, space, micro-controllers and cell phone groups. The people make a company great - not the managment. Management has never made a company great, but poor managment has certainly killed more than a few.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgd ( 2822 )

      And, to be even more clear, damn near every company can lose 5-10% of its workforce without impact.

      Layoffs are the perfect opportunity to get rid of the people who you don't really want there but don't want to go through the hassle of actually firing.

      Anyone who has gone through the process of making the list knows that its not random, not last hired-first-fired... when its individuals in a group and not the whole group, its "who have we wanted to get rid of and actually can now without giving them multiple

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      What do you mean, this isn't a big deal in the USA job market? Are you saying it's not a big deal to be laid off in the US, or that it's not a big deal because Americans don't have families? Or something else?

      As an IT worker who has been laid off twice in the last year due to downturns who has a family, let me tell you, it is a fucking big deal. HR types still very much have the mentality of "oh you were laid off? There must be something wrong with you" and won't even consider someone who's got multiple sho

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:16AM (#26559813) Journal
    Here is a link to the entire memo [] Steve sent to employees regarding the layoffs.

    No, it's not my blog nor am I affiliated in any way with the site.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kaneda2112 ( 871795 )
      While it is unpleasant, at least Ballmer acknowledges it's happenning. At IBM (and as an IBMer), no-one has any official information. It seems like employees are being liquidated by a death squad and made into Orwellian 'unpersons' as their names disappear from 'Blupages' - the company directory.

      I would rather get an offical word from the management folks ahead of time. I can only suspect IBM management is afraid of sabotage or people getting upset in public - from those that are to be shown the door. I
  • by Hodar ( 105577 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:21AM (#26559885)

    Once upon a time, a company had loyalty to it's people, and the worker's were expected to have some loyalty to the company. If the company had a rough quarter or a poor year, people pulled together and worked harder. A company USED to do layoffs to avoid going bankrupt. Workers viewed each other as extended family members - it was common for workers to get together at each other's homes on weekends and holidays. Families got to know each other, work was done in a 'team' enviroment; and if you pulled your weight and did your job - you could expect to retire with the company you worked for. 20 years of service was celebrated, opportunties for promotion were biased such that someone who had shown loyalty to the company had first dibs, over someone coming in from the outside.

    Today, despite record profits, companies close plants and terminate people - so the few executives can reap huge bonus's. Getting laid off by a plant closing, business downturn, or poor managment decisions punishes employees who were powerless to avoid the mistake - but end up taking full responsibility in that they have to sell their homes, and re-locate to find work elsewhere. With the cost of housing - this means that the 401K money must be robbed today, so they can continue to make mortgage payments while they try to sell their home, and have money to bring to closing when their home sells for less than what they paid for it.

    I've been there, I've had my retirment almost depleted because companies transferred jobs to India, a plant closing, terminating a project I was involved with, a company purchased and moved overseas, and a company that failed due to poor managment. Now after 20 years, I finally have solid career.

    When did all this change? Why did this change? It certainly hasn't been for the better - for the USA used to lead the world in production, in technology and development. People used to matter, now each of us is just a cog in the company machine. We are all expendable, and will be dropped on a whim. I wonder why.

    • by Punko ( 784684 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:33AM (#26560067)
      It changed when your company went public. As soon as the first duty of the company changed from working owners to non-employee shareholders, employees are simply meaningless. As a shareholder of our own privately held firm, our employees are our number one asset. Layoffs, when necessary due to lower service demands, are keenly felt. If our firm was to go public, we would morph into the same heartless money machines as all other publicly traded firms. You want employees to matter? Don't go public.
    • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:01PM (#26560549)
      I wonder if things really used to be much better. I would be more apt to say that the pace of change was slower so it seemed as if people held on to their jobs for the long haul and indeed some did. The information age has made it possible to make financial decisions at a pace previously unheard of. This is probably why layoffs are happening well before a company gets to bankruptcy. Still, when you here Microsoft going from profits above 4 billion to slightly below and they cut 5,000 jobs .... it has to make you a little angry. Obviously, Microsoft paid little heed to President Obama's plea for the country to be less self-centered and to realize that economic recovery will take people working together. It is more of a "We" approach vs. "I"

      Try to take a long view. This crisis is ultimately a "good" thing for our country. It will shake our country to its foundation and force us to come to grips that regulated capitalism is not such a bad thing. Even Richard Nixon understood that regulations placed on the banking and financial sectors were necessary. The deregulation from Nixon thru Clinton and finally Bush helped lead to this meltdown. We are on the cusp of greatness yet again. This is a chance for us to come together to be even better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hansamurai ( 907719 )

        "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." - President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel

        If this crisis has done anything for me, it's shown me that regulation is the main problem. If you think we had unregulated capitalism before, you are completely wrong. Banks were highly regulated, the entire financial sector was highly regulated. Government involvement is only making it worse.

  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:34AM (#26560083)

    I know somebody who works at IBM. They work on a project that supports HR department's requirements when they are doing big layoffs.

    In a kafkaesque sort of way, they have job security just so long as things suck and there are additional layoffs coming down the pipeline.

  • Job OPENINGS (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrazyTalk ( 662055 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#26560239)
    Go to the Microsoft Careers home page and search for job openings - there are six new openings for TODAY alone - 853 openings altogether. Wonder how many of those will eventually be closed?
  • Just ignore it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlpineR ( 32307 ) <> on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:42AM (#26560241) Homepage

    Previous economic discussions on Slashdot have included several posts with the sentiment: "I'm choosing to ignore this recession. I still have a job so I'm going to continue as before. The only economic problem we have is psychological."

    Are you still so certain that your job will remain when another 5% of your customers are about to become unemployed? Are you still so optimistic that you could easily find a new job with a million other educated and experienced workers back on the job hunt too?

    Even if this recession were purely psychological, it has set a wave in motion that will splash around for a while causing layoffs and bankruptcies. If there is a rational basis for the economic shrinkage then it could be even worse. I wonder how long it will take to return to growth and optimism.

  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:54AM (#26560425)

    Remember what that was deemed appropriate must have office equipment for the hip IT company?

    Why don't they sell some of that crap?

    If Ballmer and Gates chipped in half a billion each, that would pay 1000 employees a hundred grand for a year.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by east coast ( 590680 )
      Why pay these employees if they can function in getting their products to market without them? Why is it that a company has to be in the red before people understand why lay offs should happen?

      Most indicators at this point show that the PC market is in a decline much like most other markets during this current economic crisis. Paying the same number of employees to put out less product is a terrible business move.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @11:58AM (#26560497) Journal
    All 3 are hiring out of the states and EU. It is called this is a mass move of jobs out of the states.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:04PM (#26560593)

    15% layoff - or in that figure. We've known about it for months, coming, too. Today is the "notification day" for many Sun employees, too ;(

  • by dlsmith ( 993896 ) on Thursday January 22, 2009 @12:05PM (#26560603)
    And here I am looking for a job at IBM, Intel, Sun, . . . . Maybe I should take the in-laws up on their offer to let their son-in-law with a CS PhD live in the basement for a few years.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.