Speculation of 110,000 IBM layoffs is “stupid,” the company is saying, but it’s definitely laying people off.
Reporting in Forbes on Thursday, famed Silicon Valley “iconoclast” Robert Cringely wrote that imminent IBM layoffs could total 26 percent of the company’s population. (With numbers this large, “population” almost seems more fitting than “employees.”) Other news outlets did the math on Friday and Monday that 110,000 would be getting pink slips.
A Reuters report Monday includes an IBM statement correcting the number down to “several thousand.” But IBM’s Hong Kong office had already responded earlier in the day, putting things more bluntly:
“IBM does not comment on rumors or speculation. However, we’ll make an exception when the speculation is stupid. That’s the case here, where an industry gadfly is trying to make noise about how IBM is about to lay off 26 percent of its workforce. That’s over 100,000 people, which is totally ludicrous.”
IBM is definitely laying off somebody. The company’s fourth-quarter earnings report — in which revenues declined for the 11th consecutive quarter — noted upcoming restructuring charges of around $580 million. The Hong Kong blog entry, rounding the figure up to $600 million, points out that this isn’t enough money to lay off even 10,000 people.
The blog entry also notes that IBM has more than 10,000 job postings pending and that its cloud business plans to hire 1,000.
That would include the SoftLayer infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) business, which IBM acquired in 2013.
On the software-defined networking (SDN) side, IBM sold its networking assets to Lenovo but held onto its SDN for Virtual Environments — which, in fine IBM fashion, is the name of its SDN architecture. Early in 2014, the company reportedly resisted some casual overtures about selling that division.
It seems unlikely that the pending layoffs would affect those SDN efforts, but then again, IBM has lost considerable SDN brainpower. Two departures we highlighted last year were Colin Dixon, now a Brocade employee and chair of the OpenDaylight Project‘s Technical Steering Committee, and Inder Gopal, the founding OpenDaylight chair, who’s now with Ericsson. (Here’s our recent Q&A with Gopal.)