While it is no surprise that Yahoo started announcing the layoffs of between 600-700 people this week (the number varies according t the source) there is a bit of a surprise in what business units were targeted. The biggest surprise comes from the cuts made at Flickr.
Om Malik of Gigaom gives some interesting insight into these changes by sharing the announcements he picked up from various engineers through tweets. While layoffs do seem to be a part of it there seems to also be some voluntary exits that go along with the forced reductions. While this is completely conjecture on my part, the experience I have had is that when there are voluntary exits that coincide with layoffs that is not a very good sign. Most people are happy that they didn’t get let go and move on with their jobs and just deal with the ‘survivor’s guilt’. If folks are jumping ship of their own accord in conjunction with the layoffs then you have to wonder what is actually happening there.
Malik’s statement below poses an interesting thought.
Frankly, cutting the Flickr team is a bit of a head-scratcher: That group is one of the few pockets of future-thinking tinkerers at Yahoo, especially when it comes to building new media experiences around “social objects” such as photos.
If that is truly the case then there is a talent leak occurring. Of course, the changes that have come with the Carol Bartz era could simply be too much for some to handle. It certainly isn’t the same Yahoo that existed just a few short months ago. Talent that liked a loose culture and atmosphere may be having a negative response to the decidedly different culture that is going to result from Bartz’s leadership.
As can be the case, some of the comments that follow this post exhibit the Yahoo supporters coming to bat for the new Yahoo world order while others wonder if they need to move all of heir photos from the service. There also appears to be a debate about how much, if any, money Flickr generates for the company. All good questions for sure that will only be answered with the passing of time and not opinions.