Technology

Yahoo Layoffs in 'Real Time'


Laid-off employees aren't going quietly. They're using the blogosphere to share their stories and find some sympathy—and job offers

Yahoo may be cutting costs by laying off 1,000 employees, but the price it's paying is a free-for-all, courtesy of disgruntled and articulate former workers in the blogosphere. As former "Yahooligans" began leaving their posts Feb. 12, they flooded the Internet with tales filled with anger, confusion, and plenty of sarcasm. For every blogger using the Internet to recount his or her story, there are at least a dozen sympathetic responders offering a shoulder to cry on—or a potential job.

The narrative getting the most exposure is a series written by Yahoo's Ryan Kuder of San Jose. Kuder, who was laid off Feb. 12, Twittered about his every step on layoff day in a series of bittersweet entries. "This is a serious downer," he wrote Feb.12. "Trying to drown it in free lattes. Which I will miss," reads one entry. "On the plus side, my commute just got a lot shorter," reads another. Several hours later, he added, "Heading into my HR meeting. The room is called Lucy. Cute, eh?" Kuder got a gush of sympathetic and encouraging twitters from fellow tech workers in response. "I feel your pain, Ryan," wrote Reh Mulji. "I miss my free protein bars." Grfx303 wrote, "Hang in there Ryan. A new beginning awaits!" The support seems to have helped Kuder in the adjustment to joblessness. "Kicking off the first day of unemployment with a run. Then…maybe a nap," he wrote Feb. 13.

An hour after Susan Mernit was laid off on Feb. 12 from Yahoo personals, she posted a note to her blog, updated her Facebook status, and added a tweet to her twitter stream. Six hours later Mernit had received more than 100 responses, including words of support and job leads. "Anyway, as I read through all the great notes, calls to action, and expressions of support—all of which I very much appreciate (and need/want) I was struck by how much social media tools provided this situation with what felt like almost real time communications—and how much smaller and more intimate the world feels because of the speed and directness with which we can now interact when something happens," wrote Mernit Feb. 12.

"Do Not Break Down Right Now"

Valleywag brings other voices into the mix under its headline "Yahoo layoffs happening now." One blogger, identifying him/herself as PlaidSofa, was spared a layoff, but isn't happy watching co-workers leave. "Of course the do-nothing, free-lunch-sucking employees who'd been promoted to manager from the amateurly-run Overture days were safe," writes PlaidSofa. "We had an after-the-slaughter team meeting this afternoon to address our questions—the one everyone was thinking and nobody said: Why him/her instead of the lazy slob who you socialize with?"

Penelope Trunk, who was let go from Yahoo! Finance on Dec. 27, makes a poetic entry on her blog to support the newly laid off. In an entry called "How to deal with getting fired (from Yahoo)," the former columnist describes play-by-play the meeting in which she was given the ax. "To his credit, the guy I thought I was friendly with got right down to the point: 'We are not renewing your contract.' The first thought I had was: When is my contract up? And then I realized: Oh. Now. The next thought I had was: Be poised. Do not break down right now."

New Horizons

Trunk struggles to figure out why she'd get fired, and reasons it wasn't because "Every week, 400 people leave comments on Yahoo saying how stupid I am." The reason was a more mundane financial matter. She was disheartened, but that didn't stop her from asking whether there were other openings at the company. "Here's what my boss's boss's boss said: 'You should write for Lifestyles. That is more women-oriented.'"

But the exchanges of laid-off Yahoo workers isn't all about commiseration; it's also about finding leads. John Furrier writes in response to a story on TechCrunch that he's hiring: "Bummer about Yahoo. I hope they can pull together and survive. Open call for Yahoo entrepreneurs who know social networks and social graph technology: I'm looking for product managers and engineers for my new social advertising startup. For info go to furrier.org—information on the startup is buried in the blog."

Herbst is a reporter for BusinessWeek.com in New York. Holahan is a writer for BusinessWeek.com in New York .

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