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Yahoo! Businesses IT News

Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a "Remix." Don't Do That. 194

Nerval's Lobster writes: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in a conference call with reporters and analysts, referred to the net layoffs of 1,100 employees in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a 'remixing' of the company. A 'remix' is a term most often applied to songs, although it's also appropriate to use in the context of photographs, films, and artwork. CEOs rarely use it to describe something as momentous as a major enterprise's transition, especially if said transition involves layoffs of longtime employees, because it could potentially appear flippant to observers. If you run your own shop (no matter how large), it always pays to choose words as carefully as possible when referring to anything that affects your employees' lives and careers. Despite a renewed focus on mobile and an influx of skilled developers and engineers, Yahoo still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene; that struggle is no more evident than in the company's most recent quarterly results, which included rising costs, reduced net income, and layoffs.
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Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a "Remix." Don't Do That.

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  • You get an extra 10%/month if you've been remixed instead of merely laid off! Yahoo!!

    • It's like beer, some of it goes in the cup ready to be consumed. But then there's the head that just foams up and gets swiped off.

      Must feel good the next morning, wife walks in "How do you feel, beer ejecta? Ready for unemployment?" "Yahoo!"

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @04:48PM (#49531287)

    It's just a euphemism. I remember working for a company that started embracing offshoring, which they called "right-shoring." Layoffs were called "right-sizing." And the executives were called "cunts." Amazing how just a little "word-smithing" can make things sound better than they really are, huh?

    • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @04:52PM (#49531323) Journal

      It never ceases to amaze me the insensitivity with which employers treat the life-changing decisions they make regarding their employees. I get that it's a business decision and that sometimes you have to make the hard call, but that doesn't mean you have to be a douchebag about it. I've seen the gamut, from firing people via text message to inviting them to a "breakfast meeting" and having security box up their stuff while they're in the meeting room (and not giving them breakfast, either).

      • I've seen the gamut, from firing people via text message to inviting them to a "breakfast meeting" and having security box up their stuff while they're in the meeting room (and not giving them breakfast, either).

        I don't know if "gamut" is the word you were looking for. Both of those things are pretty crappy ways to fire someone.

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:22PM (#49531595)

        I've been laid off once, but fortunately, it was handled extremely well. The CEO of the company (it was fairly small), called us to a meeting where he sat with us in a room and explained the situation and why it was being done, answering any questions we had afterwards. It's hard to get mad at someone when they're completely transparent about the whole thing, and I had a lot of respect for both him and the company for handling it that way. It still sucked, but it sucked in a way that didn't leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

        Note: he didn't use any euphemisms to describe what was happening.

        • I've been through two and a half layoffs.

          1st was managed like crap in November of 2001 working for a financial software company. Over the course of 3 weeks they laid off a bunch of people each Friday totaling 1/3 - 1/2 of the company. Each time saying that they done with layoffs for the foreseeable future. Each cut was made primarily by start date leaving their new application without enough workers and some parts of it's development without any workers.

          2nd was done ok'ish in March of 2008. Again
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Business is business, I take your point but I think the issue isn't so much insensitivity as being needlessly insulting. I am adult I understand our employee/employer relationship is supposed to be mutual beneficial. Treat me like an adult.

        Tell me, "..We have to let you go, its nothing to do with your job performance, its just that your job function is no-longer aligned with our objectives" No I won't be thrilled about it but I'd much rather have an honest statement of the facts than some be euphemism ab

      • ...to a "breakfast meeting" and having security box up their stuff while they're in the meeting room (and not giving them breakfast, either).

        Wow! I would have been pissed.

        No one should ever fire me when I have low blood sugar.

      • I get that it's a business decision and that sometimes you have to make the hard call, but that doesn't mean you have to be a douchebag about it.

        Sure you do. Being a douchebag to your victims inhumanizes them and thus makes you feel less guilty about mistreating them. It's why it's such a common practice of various corrupt security forces the world over.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      The sad thing is that many people fall for it time and again. It is like people want to be lied to.

    • It's just a euphemism. I remember working for a company that started embracing offshoring, which they called "right-shoring."

      It would be really funny for such terms to evolve into unwittingly offensive terms, like "Economic Colonialism", or "Nerd Trafficking".

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @08:37PM (#49533079)

      It's just a euphemism. I remember working for a company that started embracing offshoring, which they called "right-shoring." Layoffs were called "right-sizing." And the executives were called "cunts." Amazing how just a little "word-smithing" can make things sound better than they really are, huh?

      Yes, but here "remix" may actually be the right word for it.

      When you "remix" a song, you take a song that was good on its own merits, fuck with the tempo, add some annoying bleeps, warbles, gaps and/or voiceovers which completely ruins a song.

      So when you "remix" a company, you get rid of all the engineers and functional people whilst keeping the designers and giving the upper management a nice fat bonus which completely ruins a company

    • It's just a euphemism. I remember working for a company that started embracing offshoring, which they called "right-shoring." Layoffs were called "right-sizing." And the executives were called "cunts." Amazing how just a little "word-smithing" can make things sound better than they really are, huh?

      They're not really people anyway; they're just headcount.

  • And Google is whistling "Under My Thumb" all the way to the bank.

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:04PM (#49531439)

    I wonder what is coming next, hiring good 'ol Carly Fiorina as "Chief Vision Officer" or something like that? I'm sure that'd improve morale greatly. That worked out so well for HP. (Not that their subsequent two CEO's were much of an improvement...)

    Where do CEO's learn to talk like this? Weren't they ever front-line employees who rolled their eyes at the exec-speak? (Judging from the breathless and sycophantic comments I see posted on my company's intranet to every word from our Fearless Leaders, I'd say no.)

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:00PM (#49531923)

      People at that level are advised by groups who are retained to aid with a particular sort of image or messaging. When your words to your staff can affect an entire company's stock price, and thus, affect the company at a fundamental level, you learn quickly to never talk off script.

      To be fair, saying the wrong thing and torpedoing a company's stock price can negatively affect not only the bottom line, but it also opens an otherwise good company up for "activist investors" or raiders who might be worse for your company in the long term than having to adhere to an inhuman script filled with euphemisms. A company in the hands of raiders ends up becoming a company split up or sold at a fire sale. That would mean the loss of *all* employees.

      Of course, there is a line where that can go from prudence to moral cowardice or even indifference. It is not always clear where that line really is. Few who have been laid off are really able to appreciate the bigger picture, given their current catastrophe.

      I do know of one CEO of a small company who personally called everyone he laid off down to a meeting, and explained the situation while in tears. I'm sure it made an impression on them, but in the end, they were all still out of a job. I can't imagine being someone in charge of a bigger company who might have to do that for hundreds of people for multiple layoffs. Admittedly, I also have trouble believing that they could relate to hundreds of people under them as individuals.

      If you work for a company over around 100 or so people, and you are an "individual contributor", you can pretty much expect that you will start having upper management become remote unless they make an increasing effort. Humans in general can only maintain only a certain number of relationships realistically, and a CEO probably has just as many outside the company as in it. Don't go to work for a big company and expect a personal touch from anyone but your manager or possibly their manager. They suffer from human limitations as much as anyone. You're going to be treated as a number which only works if the management is run by someone like The Count, who rather fancies numbers.

    • While I agree this was a bad move, and I dislike feminists and "positive discrimination" as much as the next guy, it is a bit sad to see so many reactions playing the "woman"-card. She did something foolish. The fact that she's a women doesn't really matter here. Foolish things were done by men too, no reason for dragging other women into this story.
    • The point isn't to cheer up the people who got laid off. The company doesn't care about them.
      The point is to motivate the people who are still around. Get them to work hard. Keep them from abandoning the company. I don't know if it will work in this case, but in my experience, people tend to forget the layoffs fairly quickly.

      The only thing that can make a layoff 'good' is if it gets rid of the dead-weight, the coworkers who weren't really contributing anyway, probably wrote buggy code, and were slowing
  • I really don't see what the fuss is about. I have a lot of empathy for people who lost their jobs but software -- especially if you have Yahoo on your resume -- is a booming industry and there are plenty of jobs out there. I honestly can't muster too much sympathy for software developers who are unemployed right now.

    That being said, Yahoo did need a "remixing" and whatever word you use to describe it is rather unimportant. I don't see why that was a point of focus in the story. Companies aren't around to ju

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:09PM (#49532007)

      Being laid off sucks. You may well be relatively confident that you have a new job in the works, but all the capital you might have gained in that company is over, save for perhaps, some references you can get if you didn't piss off your managers or co-workers and maybe some non-worthless options.

      It also can come at inopportune times for your financial situation. It is a pain in the ass to get a loan for a new house when you haven't been in a new job for very long, and that's even when you chose to move jobs for a bigger paycheck, and so should be able to be more capable, rather than less capable of paying the bills.

      More to the point, despite it being just "business", you wonder how you ended up on the selection list. Even if you're relatively sure that it wasn't merit-based retention, layoff time is when managers remove people who they couldn't justify outright firing, but are more than happy to throw to the wolves when the reaper requests his quota.

      And of course, finally, while there may be many jobs out there on average, it is very possible that you're too expensive or too old, or your skills were too specific to get you a comparable position elsewhere. And it is known you were laid off and need a new job, there is a real chance you'll get lowballed. You can be up shit creek if that happens and you have a family to support who were relying on every last dime you made to support them.

      tl;dr Having more job opportunities available only makes being laid off suck slightly less. If you had wanted a new job, you'd have gone and gotten one yourself.

  • >> influx of skilled developers and engineers, Yahoo still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene

    If it helps put it in context, I recently left a Midwestern tech job and advertised a yahoo email address (rather than one that would have highlighted my moonlighting - ahem) for people who wanted to stay in touch. The number of people who showed up on Twitter to give me shit for still having a Yahoo address was telling.

    • Finance.yahoo.com, is also dying. Thank you CEO Marissa Mayer, you have taken what used to be a valuable and interesting resource for investors and completely fucking ruined it.

      Regarding Yahoo mail, since you can't take your yahoo email to another server, exactly what are we supposed to do with what is for many of us what we consider our permanent email address. I don't want to tell all my contacts to find me at a new address every time a new domain becomes popular. Then again, I don't want any more job rel

      • Finance.yahoo.com, is also dying. Thank you CEO Marissa Mayer, you have taken what used to be a valuable and interesting resource for investors and completely fucking ruined it.

        Maybe it has gotten worse under Mayer, but to be fair, Yahoo finance was "unimproved" some years ago, turning from a usable set of forums to pages full of unreadable bling. What I don't understand is why Mayer (who was supposed to be responsible for Google's simple, spartan look) hasn't done the same for Yahoo. Or perhaps she has

    • by weav ( 158099 )

      yahoo.com? or yahoo-inc.com? There's a real difference...

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:13PM (#49531513)

    ...since apparently common sense, intelligence, sensitivity and interpersonal skills are not prerequisites for being a CEO of a global company anymore.
    Kinda makes me wonder what relevant skills she actually does have.

    • Did everyone forget that many CEO's show signs of psychopathy? (now called something more P.C., like antisocial personality disorder) Some sources:
      Forbes [forbes.com]
      Patheos [patheos.com]
      arts.mic [mic.com]
      thestar [thestar.com]

      Is anyone really surprised that CEOs don't show the slightest regard for the well-being of the lives they can impact the most?
      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        No but I seriously would like to know how/why people that screw over others and make such bad decisions cen even get the chance to be CEOs, and why apparently many if not most CEOs are like that.

  • CEOs and the truth (Score:5, Informative)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:13PM (#49531515) Homepage Journal

    CEOs like to use special language because they are all sociopaths and have trouble with the truth.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:46PM (#49531791)

      This, incidentally, is the reason there are so few woman CEOs: The sociopathy is a job _requirement_ and there are fewer female sociopaths. That those are not in any way inferior in pathology though, is amply demonstrated by Meyers, Ginny and Fiorina. They can lie, cheat, steal and kill companies with the best of them. It also shows nicely that calling for more women in CEO positions is entirely bogus: It will just get those sociopaths a booster.

    • by madirad ( 163824 )

      CEOs like to use special language because they are all sociopaths and have trouble with the truth.

      Not true. Not all CEOs are sociopaths. There are examples of fine CEOs who aren't. Hmm, I can't think of any examples but I know I've heard of some once.

  • Serious question: what does Yahoo! do that earns them money? I honestly can't name anything off the top of my head.
    • I often wonder this. I know that in some parts of Asia, Yahoo Auctions is the default for that kind of business rather than ebay, but is that all? I can't think of anything else.
    • Re:I need a reminder (Score:4, Informative)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:32PM (#49531677)

      Serious question: what does Yahoo! do that earns them money? I honestly can't name anything off the top of my head.

      They own some percentage of Alibaba. It's seriously something like 110% of their net worth - people have said that, without it, Yahoo! is actually worth less than $0.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I had a domain name registered with them for a few years. I moved when after 20 support emails they still did not understand what I meant by "running my own DNS server and that they should point to it". So I know what they do to pass the time: demonstrating incompetence. But no idea where their money comes from. Masochists?

  • She's got a serious set of sociopath eyes.
  • more names (Score:5, Funny)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @05:19PM (#49531569)
    I have some suggestions for additional terminology. An unprofitable quarter (so in other words, all of them) could just be called "dippin'" Then accidentally serving up crytowall malware through their ad network could be "trippin'" and buying out a company that they think is hot and turns out to be a complete nosedive could be called...um...not really sure on that one but Marissa Mayer is a freaking idiot. Maybe they could call it that. Call it a "Marissa Mayer" when someone royally screws up and loses a ton of money.
    • To be fair, Yahoo was rudderless and in a nosedive before Marissa Mayer arrived. But she got a huge amount of press when she took the job - almost certainly because she is a young-ish attractive female in the tech sector - and she has failed to do anything that significantly improves Yahoo's fortunes.

      • Well a good start might be to choose a workable business model. They've been pretty much running in circles since Google surpassed them as the lead search engine, in like what 2002 or so?
      • well, she took away the work-at-home perk. there's that.

        oh, wait, you asked what she did to -improve- things there?

        nevermind.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      A "Fiorina" is also nicely descriptive. And in a few years when IBM has no silverware to sell left, a "Ginny" could describe that. With apologies to the women-folk of course, but these female CEOs are just so much more memorable and had all the BS "women are better" crap to prop them up.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:17PM (#49532093)
    "Yahoo still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene...." Maybe, just maybe, Yahoo has no place, and investors would be better served if the company was liquidated and their money returned.
  • She's not all bad... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kylon99 ( 2430624 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:26PM (#49532171)

    To her credit, when the employees complained about them being stack ranked at a general meeting (i.e. they vote who is the worse in every team and then fire them), she categorically denied it was stack ranking with no explanations and then proceeded to read a children's book to everyone. That showed a lot of respect to...

    No wait...
    http://www.businessinsider.com... [businessinsider.com]

  • To dubstep, with penises flapping around to the beat of the music!

    Seriously, how is Yahoo still a thing, anyway? The last time they were actually useful was in the '90's!

  • I think calling it a "remix" is reasonable in this case. The idea is Marissa wants to get rid of some of the people hired under the previous CEO and replace it with much more talented people. Abuse of the term is still bad of course.

  • by murr ( 214674 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @08:49PM (#49533157)

    Rip. Mix. Burn.

  • Not a mashup, that leaves you with something more.
  • Time to remix my search engines and never use Yahoo! (or affiliated products) again. After reading "When Google Met Wikileaks" by Assange, I will add google to that mix.
  • Am I right in thinking it was Yahoo who spearheaded the mealy-mouthed use of sunset to mean terminate?

    On Web 2.0, nothing is ever cancelled, closed, or shut-down. Only ever sunsetted.

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      No, "sunsetted" has been around for a long time. Although historically it's been used to describe systems that are old and obsolete and getting replaced with new ones.

      You'll hear "sunsetted" frequently in the military to describe systems being retired, usually after decades of service because they're falling apart and their replacement has been in production for nearly a decade.

  • ...when executives use euphemisms like "right-sizing." (I have never heard of a company that "right-sized" by hiring more employees). Even "layoff" is a euphemism because a "layoff" means a temporary suspension. "We'll have to let you go" means that you want to leave and they are reluctantly but graciously acceding to your wishes.

    They may be trying to make themselves feel more comfortable by pretending they aren't doing something hurtful to their employees.

    As for how it makes employees feel, I wish I could

  • and now the photos only show 2 members instead of 10

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