Sequoia Capital, the backer of Apple, Yahoo, and Google, ordered its startups to slash their payrolls this fall. We hear one CEO fired people so enthusiastically he had to retract some of his pink slips.

A tipster asks us:

Which startup laid off some folks recently, but had planned to make much deeper cuts? They went as far as having their outsourced HR firm send out final paperwork and checks to a number of employees — and then changed their mind. The CEO was so spacey he wasn't sure who got sent the paperwork. So he sent an email out to the entire company saying, "Please ignore any package and letter you might get from our HR firm - you're not fired." Ouch.

We're told the startup in question is based in San Francisco, which narrows things down. One guess: AdBrite, the online advertising network founded by FuckedCompany creator Philip Kaplan. Iggy Fanlo, Kaplan's replacement as CEO, is famously inept in HR matters.

If it really was Fanlo who pulled this stunt, that makes this tip all the more delicious — since it's exactly the kind of rumor Kaplan would have posted on his site during the last tech shakeout.