Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Layoffs Set to Begin Next Week, Followed by Restructuring the Week After

Yahoo is preparing to begin layoffs of what could be thousands of employees starting next week, according to multiple sources, and is then expected to announce a new restructuring of the company the week after.

The swirl at the Silicon Valley Internet giant has grown more intense this week, as new CEO Scott Thompson has brought in top management for a series of meetings both Tuesday and Wednesday to outline the plans.

What has emerged — although sources noted that Thompson and others communicating the pending changes said nothing was yet set in stone — is the picture of a drastically slimmed-down organization with a focus on media, advertising and new but unclear “future” initiatives.

First the layoffs: Sources said the cuts will be deep and mostly aimed at the product, research and marketing units of Yahoo, which are likely to take place Wednesday. The ultimate goal, said multiple sources, is to cut many thousands from Yahoo’s staff of close to 14,000 employees, which is actually much larger, due to contract workers not officially in its roster.

The entire cut will not take place at once, said sources, since Thompson and others are still trying to figure out how to dispense with its ad technology org and, potentially, its search business. He has been in discussions with both Microsoft and Google about this, although there are other possibilities, too.

Both these parts of Yahoo together have about 2,500 staffers, whose fate is not yet sorted out.

Also still baking is the new structure, although sources said it is most likely to be comprised of a global media division, one that encompasses Yahoo’s communications and search businesses, and ones focused on global and also regional sales. There could also be a small organization of about 50 aimed at future innovation.

Americas head Ross Levinsohn is the likeliest exec to run the media arm, while Shashi Seth — who now heads search and marketplaces — would be the obvious candidate for the the communications/search one.

Thompson has already been conducting a search for a new worldwide sales head, although one possible internal exec for the job could be Rich Riley, who was recently running Yahoo’s Europe, Africa and Middle East region.

It is not clear how Chief Product Officer Blake Irving fits in the possible new org, since much of the development could now move to the decentralized units.

Some current operational execs — such as service engineering and ops head David Dibble, CFO Tim Morse, and top lawyer Mike Callahan — are likely to continue to operate as before.

Thompson, along with consultants he has hired from the Boston Consulting Group, presented the possible plan in front of Yahoo’s senior execs on Tuesday. That was followed by more meetings with a wider range of top management yesterday, although Thompson was not as highly specific in these meetings.

In fact, according to a half-dozen sources, Thompson apparently grew somewhat testy in one of the gatherings, when asked if there was a strategy he was going to announce in more detail to the group.

(Dear Scott, these are very talented employees who love the company and who have been through the wringer and it’s not their fault that leadership has failed them, so it might be a good idea to treat them with as much respect as possible right now.)

More to come, obviously.

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— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”