As layoffs loom, Yahoo comes under fire from users

Yahoo, already under fire for changing user profiles, is reportedly planning to cut more than 1,000 jobs. The layoff announcement could come as soon as Tuesday, when the company is slated to report its third quarter financial results.

Monday's Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo will disclose in several weeks which jobs are to be cut. The report said the layoffs are expected to span the entire company.

A Yahoo representative Monday declined to comment on the reported cost-cutting measures.

The talk of job cuts comes on the heels of a user brouhaha prompted by the company's unveiling of Yahoo Profiles , a centralized control panel that allows users to manage their activities, interests and social connections across Yahoo -- and eventually all of the Web -- from one place.

Some users contend that Yahoo did not fully explain Yahoo Profiles, including the fact that old profiles would be completely erased, according to hundreds of angry messages to Yahoo on user forums and company blogs.

User Bill Simpson, for example, wrote that the changes to the profiles were a surprise with no real notice. "Data lost. The usual Yahoo 'To heck with the user' attitude," Simpson wrote. "How do you folks stay in business?"

User "Will" said he had been using Yahoo since the 1990s and was happy with his profile the way it was. "Please restore the original."

Finally, Roamer questioned why Yahoo forced the profile change that was "not sought by any of the users, is far too difficult for the basic user to get into and adjust."

For its part, Yahoo last Friday apologized for not being more "proactive" in announcing in advance the user profile changes.

"Many of you have expressed your concern with the newest version of profiles, and believe me, we're reading and hearing your comments and are committed to helping you maximize your experience with the new profiles," wrote Melissa Daniels, a Yahoo community manager, in a blog post. "We also know lots of you worked hard on your old profiles and want your data."

She went on to note that Yahoo has saved a copy of the data contained in the old profiles, which can be retrieved by Yahoo customer service personnel. However, users cannot to revert to their old profiles, Daniels added.

Daniels also addressed user concerns that the changes don't allow them to have more than one alias, or user name. She pointed out that users can choose to merge multiple aliases into their main ID, which will allow users to search for that alias and full profile details.

The latest development at Yahoo come while the company is actively negotiating with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid an antitrust challenge to its proposed search advertising deal with Google Inc.

The proposed Google -Yahoo partnership has been under fire from major advertiser groups since it was announced. The proposal prompted the DOJ to hire a high-profile litigator to determine whether the deal warranted an anti-trust investigation. An antitrust think tank called for an antitrust investigation, arguing that such a partnership could end up as a "black hole that swallows up Yahoo ," thus justifying an antitrust injunction.

Earlier this month, the chairman of the U.S. Senate's antitrust subcommittee publicly urged the DOJ to closely examine the proposed partnership , noting that it could lead to higher advertising prices and create unfair market conditions.

At the time, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said that many advertisers and competitors have expressed concern that the deal could let Google control a dominant share of the search advertising market. Under the deal, Yahoo would have less incentive to compete against Google, and could even opt to exit the market altogether, Kohl asserted.

Google has contended that a partnership with Yahoo would not cause huge online advertising cost increases and would not give it a monopolistic hold on the market.

For its part, Yahoo late last month launched a digital advisory council to help it answer some of the questions that its advertisers have concerning the proposed deal.

This story, "As layoffs loom, Yahoo comes under fire from users" was originally published by Computerworld.

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