Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Moves Ahead With Layoffs on Wednesday: The Sad Details

While there are layoffs all over now, as evidenced by the dismal jobs reports last week, the long-planned Yahoo (YHOO) layoffs will definitely be taking place Wednesday.

The layoff number was announced by its (eventually outgoing) CEO Jerry Yang on its last earnings call on Oct. 21. BoomTown wrote about the exact timing of the sad date a few weeks ago.

Many Yahoos have emailed me to ask the particulars last week, since most at the company don’t know what’s up.

Here is what I found out:

1. The number currently remains at 1,500, although given the current economic environment, several sources at Yahoo expect the eventual numbers to add up to be more that that, up to 2,000.

“Things have changed since these layoffs were announced,” said one source close to the situation. “But those additional cuts might not come Wednesday, but through attrition and a hiring freeze first.”

2. The layoffs are mostly across the board. But expect general, human resources and finance to take a bigger hit, since the expenses are cost-based and most of their costs are staff.

3. Employees targeted will be told on Wednesday morning with a “normal separation period,” said a source close to the situation, which means they will be out within a few hours on the same day.

4. Yahoo execs, sources say, are not expecting any serious problems, i.e., extremely upset employees, because these layoffs have been long anticipated. But there will be security present at its Sunnyvale HQ and elsewhere, as there always is with most big layoffs at any company.

Still, said one source, that does not mean there will security hovering over departing workers, except perhaps in cases of those who deal with more sensitive information.

5. Most employees do not know if they will be let go yet, nor has management in charge of the cuts made that public.

That’s because whole projects might be eliminated, sources said, and the cuts might present yet another chance to restructure more. Already, there are rumors of whole divisions being moved among big managers, probably to stake out territory before a new CEO is installed.

While constantly moving around furniture in a living room does not change the room shape or size, rejiggering is a favorite Yahoo management practice.

But, as Yang said in an interview with me in late October:

“I look at these cuts as both a short-term and long-term effort. In the short term, we have consolidation and organizational corrections to make. In the long term, we will look at our whole portfolio and are now asking ourselves in each case if we need to be in this business. We’re asking ourselves–should we sell it or should we shut it down? That is the kind of comprehensive look we are doing across the company.”

6. No, Yang is not leaving as CEO quite yet, although this week is a perfect time to name a new CEO and get the focus off of the bad news at Yahoo.

As I have previously written, many would not be surprised if one of these current directors is named to lead Yahoo, even temporarily, and to get a new CEO in place by the New Year (a board priority): John Chapple, Maggie Wilderotter or Frank Biondi Jr.

But a dark horse outside CEO–with the public company experience Yahoo’s board is looking for as its top priority–could emerge. More on those names later.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus