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Yahoo! Businesses The Almighty Buck

Yahoo To Fire Another 15% As Mayer Attempts To Hang On (theguardian.com) 218

New submitter xxxJonBoyxxx writes: Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer has announced plans to cut the company's workforce by 15% and close five foreign offices by the end of 2016 after announcing a $4.4bn loss. Yahoo shares have fallen 33% over the past year, including a 17% drop in the last three months. Its shares fell again in after-hours trading after Mayer announced her plan. Yahoo expects its workforce to be down to 9,000 and have fewer than 1,000 contractors by end of 2016. About a third of Yahoo's workforce has left either voluntarily or involuntarily over the last year. And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.
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Yahoo To Fire Another 15% As Mayer Attempts To Hang On

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  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:37AM (#51430011) Homepage

    ... she'd fire herself.

    • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:53AM (#51430219)
      The company was going in the wrong direction before she was even hired. They hired her as a gamble to make a big change to save the company. It didn't work. Going back to the way it was is stupid, it wasn't working before. The only things worth keeping are its overseas holdings. The core company is worthless. Firing her and hiring a replacement won't change that. They took a big gamble and lost. There is no going back.
      • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @12:15PM (#51431115) Homepage

        The company was going in the wrong direction before she was even hired. They hired her as a gamble to make a big change to save the company. It didn't work. Going back to the way it was is stupid, it wasn't working before. The only things worth keeping are its overseas holdings. The core company is worthless. Firing her and hiring a replacement won't change that. They took a big gamble and lost. There is no going back.

        I would argue that the core company isn't "worthless", it's just worth far less than it used to be. Plenty of people still go to yahoo.com, use it for email, news, etc. i still go to the financial part if I want to find out more about a company as I've found their tools to be pretty decent for aggregating everything of interest about a public company.

        That said I tend to agree with the investor who says that they should be around 3000 staff members. My question to him is also "what is the proper CEO compensation for a company with this revenue?" My guess is that it's not even in the ballpark of what Mayer is getting.

        The bottom line is that there's still a business there, probably not any real growth potential. So the proper thing to do is downsize, concentrate on the core(s) that are profitable and be really good at those areas where you're known to be really good.

        That's odd advice in the internet world where everybody wants perpetual growth, but there are plenty of stores in my town here that aren't looking to grow but rather provide steady income until retirement. We have to be realistic and understand that that particular model is also relevant on the internet.

        • by RoboJ1M ( 992925 )

          You're right!

          I'll go let the MD and the shareholders.... ..oh wait.

        • The original business model (internet portal) was doomed. However, if you got money in the bank and plenty of skilled people, you can try to find another business model that works. Mayer didn't, in fact, I believe I read she tried to kill the exploration of new businesses as a waste of money. At this point, they are too risk-averse to bet the company on a whole new business model, so yeah --- they're doomed. Could someone with more balls still turn it around? I don't know, most of the good people have alrea
    • by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:11AM (#51430383) Homepage

      Don't be silly. How could she fulfill her mission of making Carly Fiorina look competent by comparison if she gave up now?

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:19AM (#51430495)

      with 50% of the staff fired now, they have removed the bottom 50% of performers. So those remaining must be deleriously happy to be working with such elite peers. their productivity must be skyrocketing now that all the deadwood and even mediocre but dilligent workers are gone.

      • with 50% of the staff fired now, they have removed the bottom 50% of performers.

        My sarcasm meter went off the scale here but in the off-chance that you might have been serious...
        That's quite the assumption there. Sorting employees by performance is never an easy task. It's actually really complicated.
        A brilliant team with a shitty manager will look worse than a mediocre team with a half-competent manager. A group whose Director is friends with the VP will gat a pass ticket versus the group whose Director has clashed with the VP in the past. And so on.

        • So those remaining must be deleriously happy to be working with such elite peers. their productivity must be skyrocketing now that all the deadwood and even mediocre but dilligent workers are gone.

          Yeah, you definitely missed the sarcasm bits.

          This is just the modern version of "the beatings will continue until morale improves" thing -- the remaining people are expected to be so scared shitless they'll say yes to anything and magically produce awesoms.

          Of course, it never works, but that seems to be the idioti

          • The downside of this strategy is obvious: Everyone working there quickly realizes what is going on and sends out resumes. The good people all get offered jobs elsewhere. The only one's that can't get jobs elsewhere are the ones with marginal performance. So laying off "the bottom 20%" also results in losing the top 20%.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Not true, all of the executive management is still there, and that is where 75% of the worst performers are.

    • And then to really finish off the company, they can hire Carly Fiorina after she finally abandons her Presidential bid! Diversity all the way into bankruptcy FTW!
  • She is not responsible for her actions. So she holds the laid off people responsible by laying them off.

    Layoffs are always done by bad management who won't take responsibility for their actions.

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      She is not responsible for her actions. So she holds the laid off people responsible by laying them off.

      Keeping her current job is probably not Marissa Mayer's primary motivation. She was worth $300 million before she started working at Yahoo. She could have retired, started her own company, became a full time VC, etc, but she chose to become a CEO of a huge Internet company. It is very likely this means she wants a career running large companies. So Mayer's primary motivation is probably doing a good enough job to be given other similar or even better opportunities in the future.

      The more things stay the same

  • Hard to Believe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It is hard to believe that Yahoo used to be one of the top search engines with a nice bright future. Now it has a bit less that 10% of Google's revenue, and it keeps dropping. I don't think this is a case of economies of scale... Google isn't the only online advertiser making money. But Yahoo somehow continues to lose money in this ever growing market.

    Bottom line: Management at Yahoo sucks. The company should be sold in a fire sale as it has little prospects for turning things around.

    • Well, the basic problem is that there is too much advertising - far too much. When you reach a certain degree of saturation, it no longer makes any difference - people just ignore it, and I suspect adding more after that point actually leads to a decrease in effect, when people start to react negatively to it. Hence the widespread use of ad-blocking, script blocking, tracker blocking etc. We have had enough, simply. I don't know of anybody who actually wants to see adverts.

      So, with this being the case, it s

      • Well, the basic problem is that there is too much advertising - far too much. When you reach a certain degree of saturation, it no longer makes any difference - people just ignore it,

        And how! Yahoo bears some measure of responsibility for adblockers escaping from geekworld into the general public.

        Now, we would think that Yahoo is some sort of desert, with no one left, no one going there.

        But the dirty little secret is that based on page hits, the three most visited places on the internet are Google, Facebook, and Yahoo. So there is apparently some service there.

        I can just see the Slashdotters being more embarrassed about getting caught looking at Yahoo, than caught watching shemale

      • I do want to see adverts. But I want to see them the way I envision them to be displayed.
        I want to be able to subscribe to advert types instead of letting the ad middleman make a guesswork based on which websites I access. I want text-based ads, located in a specific area, which I can glance at and scan quickly. I want to switch ad types quickly in that ad box if I need to.
        So yes, I am curios about what's new in a certain area (e.g. games) and I don't mind well-placed, well-behaving, relevant ads. I don't m

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I remember making perl scripts to strip all the crap out of Yahoo searches. Now days I have to do the same with Google (but use greasemonkey instead) results because they took away the filtering system they used to have.

        There are certain domains that have nothing of value on them but tons of search hits, I have a nice set of filters that delivers clean and concise search results while destroying all the crap they intentionally let through nowadays.

        Sadly there is no competition to dethrone google... I wi

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      It is hard to believe that Yahoo used to be one of the top search engines with a nice bright future.

      And I remember Alta Vista now get off my lawn

      • And I remember Alta Vista now get off my lawn

        Hell, I still pine for the days when Webcrawler was a thing. Or Northern Lights, remember them? Or Dogpile....

    • Their website appears to be more of a tabloid-style news site with a web-scraping search engine. It'd be like going to The SUN's website and doing a search, but getting results back from all over the internet instead of just The SUN's page.

      I think Yahoo should drop their focus on news and media and turn back into a proper web services provider. They should also bring back Konfabulator.
      • I have to agree. Yahoo "news" has become quite tabloid. Especially the "sponsored ads". The images that go along with these ads on their news and finance pages are rather disgusting. Who does Mayer think her customers are? A bunch of teenaged cell phone fondlers?

        I pay for Yahoo mail (which I will stop doing soon) and I'm still faced with this crap when I'm trying to research financial information.

        Their stock portfolio function is good though but why must I endure the images of airheads fanning out a ha

    • Re:Hard to Believe (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:19AM (#51430491)

      It is hard to believe that Yahoo used to be one of the top search engines with a nice bright future.

      Yahoo was never a good search engine. Even before Google, Alta Vista was much better for those who knew.

      • Yahoo was a 'portal' business more than ever a search engine. More of a curated portal than a general purpose place to find anything and everything on the 'net.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:42AM (#51430101)

    The problem with a volunteering leaving of a company is a really bad thing, almost worse than layoffs. While it makes it easier for the managers to sleep at night knowing that they don't have to let a person go, which for most humans really hate doing.
    But for the company the people who are smart enough to see the writing on the wall, know to jump ship early knowing that they can get a good or better job elsewhere. The ones who stick around are often the ones who lack the experience to see the warning signs, or just don't have the skills to get another job, and gamble on not being the one who gets canned. Thus populating the company with less experience or less than ideal employees. This creates a downward spiral of less quality and causing real layoffs (as we see here) which makes allowing for growth much harder.

    But when you see voluntary leaving it is a bad sign.

    • Depending on the expected severance package (which can vary with the laws in each state, and the contract you're on - I'm not sure about California or Yahoo in this case) it can be worth sticking around, but you're right on the vast majority of cases. I've worked at places that were on the downward slide (back when I was still a minor peon who couldn't influence any of that), and it was utterly miserable. Problems proliferate, and morale goes into the toilet, which makes going to work each day and dealing w
    • Sure, like rats leaving a sinking ship.

      But, really, if you stand back, this is Yahoo rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

      They're a business in decline, who can't figure out what they need to do to boost revenues, skating by on the billions they made at IPO, and desperately trying to remain relevant in a moving technology field.

      This is just confirming my long-standing belief that tech IPOs (now and in the .com era) create companies with massive wealth, but no real revenue or business model, who eventu

    • by KeithJM ( 1024071 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:58AM (#51430271) Homepage
      I will grant you that you can build a better team by choosing who you let go and who you keep. But if you let the "bottom" 15% go (using whatever subjective method you use to find them), the "top" 15% are going to see the warning signs and start heading for the exit anyway.
    • I don't think there's a human being on the planet who can't recognize warning signs at Yahoo.

    • But for the company the people who are smart enough to see the writing on the wall, know to jump ship early knowing that they can get a good or better job elsewhere. The ones who stick around are often the ones who lack the experience to see the warning signs, or just don't have the skills to get another job, and gamble on not being the one who gets canned.

      In general I agree, but for some kind of weird psychological reason (fear of change?) some people simply will not ever leave a company until they are laid off, even if they know that there is no hope for the job to survive. I've seen this at every job I've ever worked at. Many of these people have questionable skills for sure. In the previous decade my group got told in early July that our jobs would end on Dec. 31 and they were being outsourced to a cheaper country. One of my co-workers stayed to the b

  • by bigdavex ( 155746 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:47AM (#51430157)

    And the cuts may just be starting: one activist investor (SpringOwl) says the total number of employees should be closer to 3,000 for a company with its revenue.

    Why would anyone think there's a constant proper relationship between revenue and the number of employees across all businesses? I mean, let's just skip right over that employees are paid different amounts, businesses take different amount of human effort to create the wealth, the market will support different prices for different services, and the business will have a different amounts necessary to pay their vendors and capital requirements.

    Suppose I have a farm business. One year I decide to spin-off the part of the company that picks the tomatoes. The previous company suddenly has much more revenue per employee. Should it go out and hire more people? The tomato picking company has little revenue per employee. Should the tomato picking company fire a bunch of people. Of course not.

  • Hopefully.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    She'll get all the credit she deserves for the failure. Maybe she could run for office after she's done sandbagging Yahoo.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @10:59AM (#51430279)

    From what I can see, it's not so much that Mayer has made a bunch of bad decisions, but rather that she hasn't made any decisions at all. Well before she took over, everyone knew that Yahoo was in trouble and that their status quo wasn't tenable. So she was fully expected to come in and make sweeping and disruptive changes, hopefully thereby saving the company.

    But what has she even attempted to change? From the outside at least, Yahoo as it exists in 2016 still seems fundamentally identical to Yahoo as it was in 2012, or for that matter, in 2006. The only plan I even heard about was that idea to split off the company into two pieces, let the unprofitable half (i.e. Yahoo) die off, and focus on the profitable half (i.e. partial ownership of Alibaba). And that's not really even a plan, that's just surrender.

    Do something, at least. This wait-and-see stuff is no good. I'm pretty sure you won't like seeing what you waited for.

    • GeoCities 2.0 - Now with more social networking crap!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mayer made one big change: doing away with telecommuting.

    • Yahoo Mail works fine for me. I also prefer Yahoo Sports over ESPN's new site.

      Wish Yahoo would go more barebones. They try and do too much.

    • From what I can see, it's not so much that Mayer has made a bunch of bad decisions, but rather that she hasn't made any decisions at all. Well before she took over, everyone knew that Yahoo was in trouble and that their status quo wasn't tenable. So she was fully expected to come in and make sweeping and disruptive changes, hopefully thereby saving the company.

      She has spent money on buying a bunch of small companies that were too small to have an impact on Yahoo. Perhaps she should have bought Netflix whe

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:10AM (#51430375) Journal

    Are the people who produced the horrid piece of trash they now call a web site part of the 15% being sent packing? What used to be a fairly easy way of getting stories in an easy-to-use format is now a jumbled mess of shitty colors and blocky outlines.

    I, and many others I have heard, have stopped going to their site as a direct result of the change. If Mayer, or the morons in charge of web design, were hoping to get more eyeballs to their site, they have failed miserably.

    • Someone is clearly asleep at the switch. When I go to the mobile version of yahoo news (morning toilet reading) , there is a huge section in the middle of the page devoted to 'Odd News'. None of this content has been updated since AUGUST 2014!!! This mobile entry point should be one of the crown jewels of yahoo and yet throwing away a huge chunk of real estate due to obvious oversight....
    • Design was what mayer did at google, besides working on her knees.
  • Yahoo is just now finally getting to the point they wanted to be in the late 90s. Things like their email mostly works now. It will always be my junk mail honeypot, but it does work.

    But everything they are trying to fix and improve, someone else beat them to it years ago. They are trying to pry into a market they failed in.

    All Mayer will be able to do at this point is try to wind everything down, fold up the chairs, and shut the lights off. The people with any brains have moved on to greener pastures and th

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @11:20AM (#51430503)

    Layoffs should always be a last resort in positions that require technical talent. This goes double if your staff are more experienced and able to see the writing on the wall. I've chosen companies carefully over the years and have had long tenures at places I've worked. But, when a talented person who can get a job somewhere else sees the layoff balloons going up, the immediate thought is whether or not they'll be next. This causes everyone good to head for the exits, and you're left with the low-talent people who are just hanging on hoping they don't get it in the next round. This has happened to me twice, and I've carefully considered my options both times, opting to leave before things got worse.

    This is partially driven by the (irrational) preference to hire only employed people. I know a lot of talented people who've just been blindsided by a sudden layoff, capricious firing or even the business going bankrupt. The road back for these people is very hard and they often have to take lower-salary work or work for companies with less-than-ideal working conditions.

    • technical talent get replaced by H1B's. There needs to be an “cool off” period for companies that have laid off an American worker before they can access the H-1B system.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      It's a very big problem too.

      Back in the early 2000s, after the dotcom crash, there were thousands of talented people out there (and even more trash). You could, with proper interviews and connections, grab 50 superstars, build a new company, and eventually be successful. A lot of the crazy IPOs we've seen a couple of years ago came out of that.

      These days, you have 2 problems:

      1) Way too many people fighting over too few "good devs". So most startups and unicorns are staffed with a couple of superstars, and d

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      All the smart and talented people jumped ship already. All that is left is idiots that believed that the company was going anywhere but down. They have been less and less relevant every year for the past 10 years.

  • and if this is like any other layoff I have seen then management probably had 24 hours or less to decide who to let go and who to keep. Without adequate time to do any real analysis then the brown-nosers, game players and golf buddies get to stay. The ratio of dead wood to productive employee then swings even further to the dead wood side.

    Then the good employees that did manage to make the cut see the writing on the wall and start sending out resumes. The exodus continues.

    By any measure, Mayer has done an a

  • Yahoo lost its way a long time ago. I see more spam ads and malware from folks using Yahoo (and CNET for that matter) than from downloading torrents.

  • Eliminate all the employees...problem solved, and think of the money they'd save!

    Seriously, I've never seen a company circle the drain as long as Yahoo has, it's like they have some magic drain-circling power than no amount of swirling or flushing can overcome.

    I swear, ten years from now we'll still be reading stories like this...."Yahoo Set To Fire Its Last 20 Employees, Mayer Predicts Huge Cost Savings".

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @01:02PM (#51431649)

    There are millions of people who, for whatever reason, are happy to use Yahoo services and there is no reason why the company can not keep them running well and earning salary for employees. The problem is logically impossible expectation of infinite growth placed on public companies. Sooner or later this drives every successful company into collapse after losing their pyramid scheme and investors flock to the latest overhyped startup to try to recoup their losses with more gambling.

    • But how much are they paying for these Yahoo services? If they aren't making more from them than they cost to operate, the company won't last.
  • Mind you, this is the company that owns Tumblr. Logic has no place in their world.

  • "We're not not doing layoffs" remixes indeed. I'm sure the Department of Labor will completely agree with her new "not layoff" jargon.
  • As Marisa Mayer tries to emulate Carly Fiorina, looks like the path to success, is to take over a company, and gut it.

    But fear not good citizens, Mayer will probably get a severance package equal to the salaries of the people she fired.

    I mean, there has to be justice for the woman, right?

  • .... on the Democrat side. The GOP still has >10 candidates, while on the Dem side, you have a Socialist vs someone who's under the FBI microscope. Toss Meyer in - she could be their answer to Carly
  • Fire all the executives and save a whole lot more money plus cutting dead weight that does nothing at all for the company.

  • The Neo Con shuffle 1. Use quid-pro quo with connections to get into the board or at least an executive gig at a tech company. 2. Outsource as much as possible to (incompetent) head shops. 3. Layoff everybody you can. 4. Reap the rewards!, pay yourself and other executives/board members huge bonuses! 5. As the company begins to sink see step 1.
  • back in 2013 and was able to see this from the inside. Everyone would spend most of their time playing Diplomacy [wikipedia.org] and just like the board game, it was impossible to win without stabbing someone in the back. Even if you survive one round, to survive the next you'd need to betray someone new. I have no idea why anyone would think "Survivor" would be a good work atmosphere -- but that's probably why I don't have a multi-million dollar salary.

    I was happy being a contractor because (a) free food was good (b) I

  • Yahoo has been doomed ever since rejecting a MS offer of 44.6 Billion dollars. They were on the slide long before that, mostly because Google is so successful.

    http://financesonline.com/top-... [financesonline.com]

    Ironically, even in the attached URL Yahoo is broken!

  • Something I've never figured out: CEO's primary job is increasing share value. So why aren't they all just paid minimum wage, plus a bonus proportional to how much they increase shareholder value buy? Stock goes down, they eat beans and wieners for dinner. Are all CEO too greedy to accept such a deal? Seems to me, if you had faith in your ability, you'd take the gamble.

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