November 11, 2010, 8:09 PM — A late-afternoon post over at TechCrunch by founder Michael Arrington claims that sources have told the online technology news site that Yahoo is laying the groundwork for a 20 percent reduction in its staff of 14,100 employees:
Yahoo is preparing to lay off 20% of total staff, we’ve heard from two independent sources, and managers have been asked to begin to make the tough decisions on who stays and who goes.
There really aren't any more details than that, though Arrington makes a point of suggesting that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz might consider reducing her $39 million annual compensation package to $10 million, thus saving more than 10 percent of the jobs rumored to be jeopardized, at an average of $100K each. Something tells me that wouldn't be on the table.
TechCrunch reports that Yahoo has denied the layoff rumor with a lawyerly "A 20% reduction in Yahoo’s workforce across the board is misleading and inaccurate.” Maybe it'll be 19 percent. It also could be zero, but you'd think Yahoo would make that crystal clear if it were so.
Layoffs suck -- take it from someone who was laid off last year -- and I'd feel bad for any Yahoo employees who lost their jobs, with the exception of Bartz. And not because I bear any animus toward her. It's just that Bartz has a very generous termination agreement, so she's not exactly going to be eating cat food anytime soon. Plus Bartz brags that she was a "damn good cocktail waitress" in her younger days, so there's always that to fall back on.
And if there are going to be layoffs, I don't blame Yahoo for denying it. What good would admitting them do? To give the staff a heads-up? Anyone at Yahoo who isn't already worried about their job hasn't been paying attention.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.