Did you hear Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang had his house lined with Kevlar before he laid off 1,500 employees? No idea if that's true, but that's the best rumor I heard all week.
Nothing sets the office rumor mill going like a layoff. Everyone's jockeying for position and looking for information; no one actually works in the runup to a corporate cull. Here are some of the things I heard in the aftermath of last week's layoffs at Yahoo:
- At one Yahoo office in southern California, 20 out of 50 employees on a single floor had their mail slots removed from the mailroom and placed on top of a bookcase — a week before the layoffs. "Talk about forewarnings," a Yahoo wrote us. "I thought yahoo had more class than that. I had worked at AOL for many years and they were not as bad as that."
- A host of small projects launched right before the scheduled layoffs — suggesting that their creators were worried they'd get laid off and the projects would never see the light of day if they didn't rush them out.
- Saddest note from a Yahoo: "I am currently with Yahoo as QA Lead and looking for opportunities with Valleywag. PFA my resume herewith. I can be reached at 408-XXX-XXXX."
- Yahoo aid off a bunch of people who had just finished training their replacements in India. A sensible business move, and yet oh so Dilbert.
- From a fired Yahoo up north:
I got laid off in the Canadian office a couple of months ago. The idiot HR person followed the script you leaked to the letter.
Here's some background:
- My manager went on mat-leave.
- Her temporary replacement was THE stereotypically awful manager: ignorant, mean, interested only in kissing the CEO's ass by slagging everyone who reported to her, and proposing ridiculous changes to a set of processes that the particular teams had established over three years of development and constant success (really: this particular team was the only team in the entire Canadian and European collection of offices that had this level of success).
- I was the senior member of the team, and I had been at the company longer than this temp-replacement, so we butted heads.
- The temp-replacement was close friends with the brand new HR manager.
- The temp-replacement and her HR friend gave me a disciplinary letter, in which they flat-out lied, claiming that co-workers had said things about my performance that they hadn't. When those co-workers found out, they complained to HR, and my letter was suddenly taken back.
- After a few months of clashing with the temp-manager, and a few months before the mat-leave was to end, I got the layoff-speech.
- The temp-manager made sure to re-org (another typical yahoo move), and give herself a new managerial role, so that when the mat-leave does end, that person now reports to the person who was her temp-replacement.
- And from Southeast Asia, word comes that people had access to Yahoo's Backyard intranet a day before the layoffs. That also happened in the U.S. in February's layoffs.
- The leaked layoff instructions we ran proved helpful:
I too received the tell-tale call yesterday, December 9th. It's interesting how the script was posted on valleywag.com, since that is EXACTLY what my manager said to me. LOL! I too find it interesting that the position I was hired for was being cut due to "reduction is workforce" and yet that very same position is currently posted on Hotjobs (which is a part of Yahoo). One would think that if Yahoo is truly making a reduction in their workforce then why would they have a post for the same position which they just laid you off from?
- Worst reporting on the layoffs: Dawn Kawamoto's breathless piece in CNET News, which reported a "twist" in Yahoo's severance package. The "twist"? Yahoo's 1,500-some laid-off employees would stay on the payroll through mid-February. However, that's not an exciting new severance program; it's simply Yahoo complying with a federal labor law called the WARN Act, which requires 60 days' warning to employees affected by a mass layoff.
- A tipster at Brickhouse, Yahoo's San Francisco "incubator" office, reports that layoff plans were clear a day ahead of schedule:
Moving boxes showed up to at the Brick on Tuesday night. if you've ever been to the Brick, you know that there's no receptionist and no way to hide them. Very classy, Sunnyvale, "Don't let the door hit you..."