Posted by Tom Foremski - January 22, 2009
Tough times call for tough measures and we can see that in the increasing numbers of layoffs among large tech companies.
It must be particularly tough on staff being cut from companies with large amounts of cash in the bank. They worked hard to help their companies create large cash reserves during the good times but they aren't able to benefit from those nest eggs when times turn bad. Too bad.
Here is a look at the cash (and debt) of some top tech companies:
Microsoft (MSFT) $19.71 billion ($1.98 billion debt)
Google (GOOG) $14.41 billion (no debt)
Intel (INTC) $11.84 billion ($1.99 billion debt)
eBay (EBAY) $3.64 billion (no debt)
Apple (AAPL) $24.49 billion (no debt)
Here is an excerpt from an editorial by John Dalziel at Flash Magazine on Adobe's recent 600 job cuts:
. . . It is interesting to see a company that makes almost a billion quarterly, thinking that a possible loss in revenue of 2-4% is a great reason to fire more than 8% of their staff?
. . . Let's hope that the Adobe executives remember that they're primarily in the knowledge business. It's really their employees that makes a difference, not layoffs that are staged to impress shareholders. After all - a company that earns $130.000 per employee per quarter (!) shouldn't really be considered so unprofitable it has to fire people? In our books, that's a decent profit so the layoffs seems more like a play for the shareholders than actually making a difference. Eventually this will hurt Adobe's innovation as employees feel it's an unsafe place to work.
The same argument could be easily applied to almost any large tech company.
Sarah Lacy over at Business Week writes:
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Big companies could lose valuable employees to rival startups if they abandon their traditional lure: job security
In December, IAC Interactive (IACI) CEO Barry Diller said the unthinkable—at least for a corporate executive amid a recession. "The idea of a company that's earning money…to have cutbacks just so they can earn another $12 million or $20 million or $40 million in a year when no one's counting is really a horrible act when you think about it on every level," Diller told the crowd at the Reuters Media Summit. In other words, if you're making money, you shouldn't be laying off huge numbers of employees to please an investor base that's unlikely to be appeased in any case.