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Businesses Microsoft

Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research 109

walterbyrd writes with news of Microsoft layoffs. Microsoft Corp will close its Silicon Valley research-and-development operation as part of 2,100 layoffs announced on Thursday, as it moves toward its new CEO's goal of cutting 18,000 staff, or about 14 percent of its workforce. News of the closure of the Microsoft Research lab at the company's campus in Mountain View, California, was first made public on Twitter by employees. The company later confirmed the move and said it would involve the loss of 50 jobs.
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Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday September 18, 2014 @08:06PM (#47941391) Homepage Journal

    Back around 2000 when Microsoft had something like $100 billion in the bank I said that with that kind of money, they could afford to make no income and still pay their 40,000 or so employees at the time for the next 13 years. I wasn't serious though.

    • Back around 2000 when Microsoft had something like $100 billion in the bank I said that with that kind of money, they could afford to make no income and still pay their 40,000 or so employees at the time for the next 13 years.

      A basic fact of business is that when a company has no income but does have assets, the time has arrived to liquidate those assets and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. A minor variation of that reaches the same conclusion in the face of low, as opposed to zero, profitability.

      • Back around 2000 when Microsoft had something like $100 billion in the bank I said that with that kind of money, they could afford to make no income and still pay their 40,000 or so employees at the time for the next 13 years.

        A basic fact of business is that when a company has no income but does have assets, the time has arrived to liquidate those assets and distribute the proceeds to shareholders. A minor variation of that reaches the same conclusion in the face of low, as opposed to zero, profitability.

        What a quaint, antiquated idea. More likely, management will do something like use those assets as leverage to buy another company, lay off thousands, collect bonuses, then sell off the second company, rinse, repeat.

        Or sell itself to some other company, collect golden parachutes and/or high-level positions at the other company (with golden parachutes), award themselves bonuses. lay off thousands, etc. etc.

        Modern business can be so depressing.

      • Excellent point. Except of course that Microsoft is currently wildly profitable, 22 billion in net income this past year. If the total cost of each employee in the layoff is a quarter of a million dollars, the layoff boosts Microsoft profitability less than 3% when profits are already tremendously high.

        Now, I'm an open source software fan that is becoming more and more aligned with the GNU FSF fanatics as I get older. So part of me is inclined to think a move by Microsoft to sacrifice their chance to
  • Maybe Nadella got tired of hearing about the year of Linux on the desktop, and decided to finally make it happen? Anyhow, good luck without your researchers. I hope it was the ones responsible for Windows 8.

    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      Anyhow, good luck without your researchers.

      What, all 50 of them in Silicon Valley? FFS, I didn't even RTFA but I got enough from the summary to understand that this is less than a rounding error compared to Microsoft's overall R&D and engineering staffs.

      Also, can we make it Schnell's Law that anyone who mentions the Year of the Linux Desktop without irony has triggered Godwin's Law [wikipedia.org] about the Occam's Razor [ucr.edu] of Linux zealots' Panglossian [shmoop.com] combination of The Seven UI Laws [99designs.com], the Joel Test [slashdot.org] and Newton's First Law of Motion [physicsclassroom.com]? Unless of course they have do

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Any layoffs in Hyderabad? ... just asking.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. They're laying them all off in Hyderabad and Bangalore so they can import them over here as H1-B's. What do you think the H and B stand for??

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2014 @08:21PM (#47941469)

    The employees we could have paid with that 2.5 billion are a useless drag on our bottom line.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      they have to make room on the payroll for the java developers that they need to rehire (that were let go some 15 years ago as sun v microsoft ended)

    • Microsoft buying Mojang (Minecraft) makes zero financial sense. Notch and 2 other founders left, so I'm not sure how they expect to make their money back ...

      • How much work do you think Notch and the other two founders DO on Minecraft on a daily basis?

        How many pieces of merch do they make for Minecraft?

        How many servers via Minecraft Realms do they sell a month?

        I'm not sure you have any idea how Minecraft operates.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday September 18, 2014 @08:32PM (#47941517) Journal

    "We desperately need more H1B's to manage the staff reduction! We cannot afford to retrain our existing employees in staff reduction management technologies." -MS

    • Are they even an American company anymore?! Like IBM, Mocrosoft is practically owned operated out of India!

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      We desperately need more H1B's to manage the staff reduction!

      I was working as a lead tester for a video game company that decided every video game must appear on ALL platforms. We were hiring more testers to implement this strategy that ultimately failed, as each game looked like an obvious Sony Playstation 2 port on Microsoft xBox and Nintendo GameCube. Lead testers were filling out paperwork to justify hiring more testers to fill out more paperwork. to justify hiring more testers. I bailed out a year before the company went bankrupt.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        Go into the bankruptcy paper-work business. If you ever have to file bankruptcy, you'll be ready.

        • by creimer ( 824291 )
          Been there, done that. I was out of work for two years (2009-2010) and filed for Chapter Seven bankruptcy in 2011.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Has Microsoft gotten off the "we need more H1-Bs" bandwagon?
    I guess the shortage of highly skilled workers is over.
    Or, maybe only unskilled workers are being laid off.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      This year alone they have hired 2985 H1B's

    • by bjwest ( 14070 )
      H1-Bs with the same qualifications as someone being laid off should be the first to go. Hell, H1-Bs should be required to be let go and someone being laid off retrained if they're anywhere near qualified (no requiring secretaries to be retrained as developers, etc).
      • New law: If, in your district, there is a net gain in H1-B visa hires over net gain in non-H1-B visas hires. Then you cannot run for re-election. Problem solved. This would give the incentive to representatives to make sure Americans are being hired/retrained as needed. The status quo system we have now -- crony capitalism -- is geared toward looking after business and not the voter.
      • If you are going to drag someone in from halfway around the world you are normally expected to not fire them at a whim. The problem here is not the guest workers, the problem is a management mentality of firing at a whim and local conditions that do not protect the locals fired at a whim as much as guest workers fired at a whim. Firing guest workers gets noticed on many levels. Kicking a local out the door with no reason given is just American business as usual in some states.
        It's far too common to blame
        • by bjwest ( 14070 )

          This worker was "dragged" halfway around the world to fill a position where there was (supposedly) no qualified U.S worker available. Is it OK to import an H1-B worker and a few weeks later lay off a U.S worker from the same or similar position at another location within the same company?

          I vote no on that one. If there are lay offs to be done due to one division being downsized, then lay off the H1-B workers and relocate the U.S worker. This should be part of the H1-B regulations, but it never will be.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )

            Is it OK to import an H1-B worker and a few weeks later lay off a U.S worker from the same or similar position at another location within the same company?

            Of course not, but there's little or nothing to prevent it while it is less convenient to fire a guest worker in the US - plus guest workers are normally cheaper. If management have no reliable performance metrics they'll always go with cheaper. If management have the guest workers as contractors paid out of a different pool to the local workers it can

  • Hmmmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWW ( 79176 ) on Thursday September 18, 2014 @08:42PM (#47941569)

    When the announcement that cuts were coming I made a comment on /. about how everyone at Microsoft would be looking over their shoulder wondering whether their job would be cut.

    Howling responses insisted that no, the only jobs being cut were going to be in Finland and tied to Nokia.

    Now we find out that jobs are being cut in Washington, Silicon Valley, and Fargo. Hmmm, thats a long way from Finland.

    • by gewalker ( 57809 )

      From the article.

      Thursday's cuts were spread over different countries and teams, the spokesman said. The last wave of cuts mostly affected the handset business of Nokia, which Microsoft bought earlier this year.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      When the announcement that cuts were coming I made a comment on /. about how everyone at Microsoft would be looking over their shoulder wondering whether their job would be cut.

      Isn't it MS that has the toxic culture of making sure that somebody in every team gets a poor review? That's already a reason to wonder about being cut.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Hmmm, thats a long way from Finland.

      Not according to iMaps

    • by eriqk ( 1902450 )

      Now we find out that jobs are being cut in [...] Fargo.

      Aw, geez.

  • by pkinetics ( 549289 ) on Thursday September 18, 2014 @08:52PM (#47941617)

    Layoffs in the USA, and hiring increases elsewhere.

    I remember a few years back reading how MS was proclaiming that they weren't increasing their H1B hirings. However, they were achieving the same results by doing it in Canada instead.

    More recent layoffs

    http://www.murthy.com/2014/05/... [murthy.com]

  • I worked at a company that made multiple layoff cuts over several months. It was really demoralizing. I hope for Microsoft and its employees' sake that this is the last layoff, else morale will plummet and people will start leaving of their own free will. They should have done just one larger cut and moved on.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somebody is doing it wrong.

  • by tgeller ( 10260 ) on Thursday September 18, 2014 @10:23PM (#47942153) Homepage
    Microsoft's Pear Street office across the street houses at least two ACM A.M. Turing Award winners: Leslie Lamport and Chuck Thacker (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/lamport-031814.aspx). I wonder what the company will do with them, if anything....

    (I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Lamport when he won: See http://vimeo.com/95177539 . Nice guy!)
  • This really makes me want to give up my stable software development job and go work for you. No wonder why they say there are no qualified applicants....

  • I've been there many times for forums and talks by some of Silicon Valley's smartest people. MSFT is on its way down; it's a behemoth. Balmer knew that and that's why he flew the coop. In fact, it's Balmer's crummy management of MSFT that led to this. Probably the most overrated CEO in the last 50 years.
    • Bill Gates didn't do that great a job He produced MSBasic, convinced IBM to hand him a monopoly for software that he bought. They managed to write a few pieces of software for the Mac with support from Apple which they then ported to Windows. From there on it was mainly anticompetitive practices, until the internet came along at which point Gates totally ignored it. Until; it became too popular to be dismissed, then to make up for the huge blunder, they had to engage in anticompetitive practices so onerous

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        I'm not the biggest MSFT fan, but that's really giving MSFT the short stick, by saying they were done after MS-Basic and MS-Dos...

        For example, Bill managed to recruit David Cutler for WinNT which really allowed them to take over the server market and kept their desktop windows franchise alive for another 15 years (do you think it could have had WinXP legs by limping along with WinME as a code base?)... Of course you can't be at the top of the hill forever and I suspect the Nokia acquisition won't be as tran

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Satya is an Indian. He'll probably cut costs by hiring more of his cheap kind from India.

  • Look at Apple, they have no research department where actual scientists work (who publish).
    If you're unfamiliar with it, check out research.microsoft.com, and you'll see what I mean.

  • CEOs with no imagination do layoffs. Nayda is a terrible CEO, nothing he has done so far impresses me.

  • This is your punishment for your sins against humanity. "following orders" is the same excuse the nazis used so don't pull that card.

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