Posted by: Rob Hof on February 22, 2008
My colleague Catherine Holahan has her own take on the Kevin Johnson letter to Microsoft employees. Here’s her guest blog:
With all the discussion of the fear and loathing in Yahoo’s ranks recently, it’s easy to forget that some folks in Redmond aren’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of Microsoft. After all, acquiring Yahoo would add 13,000-plus employees to Microsoft’s already substantial 70,000-person operation, many of whom perform similar tasks to those at Microsoft’s platform and services division. Everyone can’t stay.
An internal memo, released to press Feb. 22, tries to allay layoff fears at the same time it underscores that every man can’t remain standing. In a note to employees, Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s Platform and Services Division, wrote that the company wants to retain the best and brightest, even if it means some people with overlapping positions will have to shift jobs. He downplayed concern of mass layoffs, noting that Microsoft has hired 20,000 people since 2005, indicating the company can still absorb many new hires. “We have no shortage of business and technical opportunities, and we need great people to focus on them,” wrote Johnson.
Great people. Not everybody. Even in the rallying-the-troops note, Johnson reiterated Microsoft’s pledge to shareholders of reducing redundancies and “ensuring appropriate headcount allocation by function.”
There’s good reason to reach out to employees on both sides. Yahoo has seen some of its best and brightest depart in the face of lagging innovation, a layoff, and the potential for a long-drawn out integration process with Microsoft. And many Microsoft employees, bent on besting Google, know the integration will slow their efforts in the short run.
But it’s difficult to allay fears for shareholders and employees at the same time.