Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

"Optics" of Yahoo Layoffs Take Precedence Over All–Sacred Cows Finally Nervous?

As BoomTown and many others in the blogosphere have reported for weeks now (so glad the glacial old media outlets have finally discovered the Yahoo layoffs are happening), Yahoo management is working on at least a 10 percent layoff of its almost 15,000 employees.

But, because top execs have decided they need the cuts to have good “optics” for Wall Street, they have instructed managers over the weekend to make sure that all cuts include specific staff reductions, even though previous marching orders only had called for percentage cuts in costs.

In other words, a manager had been told he or she must cut about 15 to 20 percent of the budget, although only a portion of those cuts are actually “controllable.” That means those variable costs that are not payments that must be made regardless–such as to a utility for power or a publisher for content.

And because a lot of a department’s costs are baked-in like this, the figure managers must actually cut will be much higher–up to one-quarter of a budget. And now Yahoo (YHOO) brass is insisting that managers make sure a certain number of employees are fired in their cuts.

The sudden shift is irking many managers I spoke to at Yahoo, who now have long had a modicum of control over their own businesses and feel they are being dictated to by top management who got the company in trouble in the first place.

“They make a huge mess of Yahoo and now I have to clean up after them, and they are telling me how to clean up,” said one unit head. “It would be funny, if it were not so pathetic.”

Indeed, the too-much-too-little-too-late approach to this current round of pain at Yahoo, whose staff has been through quite a ringer over the past year, is breathtaking, if it were not so very sad.

Was it only a year ago that Yahoo was just coming out of CEO Jerry Yang’s 100-Day No-Sacred-Cows Vision Quest? In that debacle, he promised to rethink and shake up the company from top to bottom and then did essentially nothing.

Back then, on Oct. 25, 2007, I wrote in a post titled “Day 100!!!!!!”:

Come home, Jerry Yang.

All is forgiven.


The Cows”

Tomorrow, Yahoo announces its likely-to-be-weaker-still earnings and whatever else its management plans for its tattered and bone-weary troops.

But I can tell you for sure right now that the cows have just about had it at Yahoo.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle