Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo’s Layoffs Tomorrow Morning of up to 2,000 Will Only Be the First Move of a Larger Purge to Come

According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo’s massive round of layoffs — which is likely to impact up to 2,000 employees — is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that will hit the storied Silicon Valley Internet giant in the months to come.

Sources said Yahoo is currently planning to announce the cuts in staff in the early morning, just as the markets open. That could change, of course, but the cuts will definitely occur within the next two days.

The layoffs, which will touch all units of the company, are expected to hit hardest in the product division, which is headed by Blake Irving.

But the fate of two key parts of the soon-to-be-blown-apart unit — Yahoo’s advertising technology businesses, Right Media and APT, and its search business — is still being contemplated, as I have previously reported. Possible scenarios include a sale or a joint venture transaction for both, which employ thousands of Yahoo staffers.

Also set to be hard hit are Yahoo’s local businesses, as well as its marketing and research divisions. While still sustaining losses, its media units will not be as badly impacted. And it’s not clear how many employee terminations will be aimed at the company’s general and administrative staff.

The layoffs tomorrow are not the end of the road in cutting costs. Along with the likely shedding of its ad tech and search businesses, Yahoo leadership is also looking at future cuts as it evaluates current businesses, which could lop even more employees off its roster.

That said, Yahoo will be “doubling down” in some older and new arenas, so there would also be simultaneous hiring in the months ahead.

But not tomorrow, which will be one of the tougher days in Yahoo’s long history of periodic layoffs. Newly installed CEO Scott Thompson had told employees in memos and also in recent meetings that “real change” was coming to the company.

That is indeed the case, which is causing massive strain throughout the company, which now employs over 14,000 and has many thousands more hired as contractors.

Along with the trauma of the layoffs, Yahoo is also facing two other tense face-offs externally. In one, activist shareholder Third Point is waging a proxy fight for board seats and stepped up the public pressure this week; and Facebook struck back hard at Yahoo’s patent lawsuit with a counter-claim of its own.

After the layoffs tomorrow, sources say Yahoo will be announcing a new organization by next week, which will create several major, soup-to-nuts units at the company. Thompson, along with consultants he has hired from the Boston Consulting Group, are making what appear to be profound changes.

Sources said Yahoo will most likely be comprised of a global media division, one that encompasses Yahoo’s consumer products businesses and one focused on global and regional sales. There could also be a small organization of about 50 employees aimed at future innovation.

Americas head Ross Levinsohn is pegged to run the media arm, which will also include its leads/commerce businesses, such as autos; Shashi Seth — who now heads search and marketplaces — is likely to run consumer products, which will include Yahoo’s communications and search businesses.

Yahoo has already been conducting a search for a new worldwide sales head, who will also be boss of the U.S., Asia and Europe, Middle East and Africa sales regions. Rich Riley, who was recently running EMEA, is reportedly the pick for U.S. sales; Rose Tsou, who is running Asia, would presumably stay put; Yahoo is looking for an EMEA sales lead.

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.

One big question mark is how Chief Product Officer Irving fits in the possible new org, in which the new units get control of their product development. Irving has reportedly had several incoming job offers, although it is not clear if he has responded to that interest.

Let’s hope that Yahoos who will be let go tomorrow find themselves with many new employment choices after the ax falls.

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