Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Laid-Back Layoffs at Yahoo?

laidback

There have been a plethora of reports over the last week about what is happening at Yahoo in relation to layoffs.

As regular readers of BoomTown know, cutting staff is one thing we have suggested as something many think the Internet giant should do more of, perhaps even in a dramatic way, even though Yahoo has also seen a steady stream of employees leaving the company.

But although layoffs are getting a lot of attention, expect the changes to be less bold than has been reported, much in the same way CEO Jerry Yang has been handling other changes at Yahoo–slow and decidedly nondramatic.

In other words, sacred cows are still safe. For now.

“It is more like moving people around than anything to areas that are more promising,” said one top exec at the company of its 14,000 employees.

In other words, maybe several hundred jobs cut rather than the 1,200 or more reported by Silicon Alley Insider last week.

Cutting costs is a good idea, of course, especially since the company is not as productive per employee as competitors like Google.

And Wall Street, where Yahoo shares have been languishing, would love a big, juicy cut in the company’s employee base to jack up profits in the short term.

In addition, when pressed, most execs at the company still complain of too many high-level execs–which I once called the “attack of the Yahoo vice presidents.”

Said one exec to me a few months ago: “There are too many chiefs and not enough people who get things done.”

To be fair, most agree that that problem has improved at Yahoo since Yang and President Sue Decker have focused on streamlining the executive ranks, which has been welcomed.

But Yahoo can’t cut itself into greatness. So, expect more movement of current employees in arenas where Yahoo can excel. That means toward things like mobile, communications, email and its graphical ad network.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work