Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a ‘Remix.’ Don’t Do That.

Things aren’t fantastic at Yahoo at the moment. Despite a renewed focus on mobile and an influx of skilled developers and engineers, the company still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene. That struggle is no more evident than in the company’s most recent quarterly results, which included rising costs, reduced net income, and layoffs.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in a conference call with reporters and analysts, referred to the net layoffs of 1,100 employees in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a “remixing and pivoting” of the company.

A “remix” is when you create a different version of something, usually by adding or removing elements. It’s a term most often applied to songs, although it’s also appropriate to use in the context of photographs, films, and artwork. CEOs rarely use it to describe something as momentous as a major enterprise’s transition, especially if said transition involves layoffs of longtime employees, because it could potentially appear flippant to observers. If you run your own firm (no matter how large), it always pays to use as formal language as possible when referring to anything that affects your employees’ lives and careers.

Mayer’s “remix” centers on transforming Yahoo into a vital Web resource for people around the world, one centered on search, digital content, and communications. As she said during the call:

“As we see new formats appear, be it phones, tablets, watches, televisions, we think that that ability to play the role of the guide and really inform, connect and entertain users will stand the test of time and these new areas of revenue for us in mobile, video, native, and social can really go the distance.”

If Yahoo’s income continues to dip, however, Mayer may find her strategy in trouble.

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18 Responses to “Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a ‘Remix.’ Don’t Do That.”

  1. Fred Bosick

    It’s no more flippant than IBM’s cute phrase, “resource actions”. The problem with IT Moguls/Job Creators/Captains of Industry is that they are so far removed from where the work actually gets done, that this remix is no different to them than selling the red hotels back to the bank when you hit another player’s Boardwalk.

    Once upon a time, these people were hired. Is any of the management going to take a haircut. Some of these people were hired under Mayer’s watch. She likely brought down the axe to forestall a stock price drop so *she* can still get her expected payday.

  2. Marissa Mayer’s compensation in 2014 – $42 million.
    Maybe she could have given that back so they could have kept half at $76,000/year or all at $38,000year. Tell me again about the “job creators”.

    • Some inconveniant truths: Of the $42 mil, only $2 million was guaranteed, or exactly 4.76% of her compensation was guaranteed. The rest is the result of the stock’s/companies performance, which has tripled in her time there. And I was incorrect, the Board of Directors wanted her to cut 30-50% of the workforce in 2012. Overall, having to let got 1100 vs the 4-7K they wanted fired, isn’t too bad, considering she was able to stave it off for 3 years.

  3. Peter Van Oudenaren

    Agreed, I think I saw her compensation come across the wire this morning.

    The monopoly money analogy is apropos. It’s almost like who cares anymore.

    Coming soon to a suburb near you: Stiglitz meets the Tea Party.

  4. Marissa Mayer should of took a pay cut. Her salary 42 Million equates to 36, 666. Perhaps she should of took a pay cut of 41 Million and laid off 600 people. Her leadership doesn’t seem worth that much money. When will we stop foolishly rewarding these people for idiocy.

  5. Yahoobadabado

    She, like most CEOs, has no concept of reality. Yahoo! is failing because people do not want to be berated by extremely biased and unprofessional tabloid-like articles just to search or check their email. Additionally, they lack the reach and other lines of business that their main competitor, Google, does so well.
    Coroporate executives and CEOs like Mayer have fleeced organizations, cut staff that were probably doing a good job, and contributed virtually nothing to validate their compensation for decades. Yet, they are still given the keys to the company vault and use it as their personal piggy bank. They stand on the shoulders of smarter, hard-working people and take all of the credit when they have done essentially nothing a person with any business sense couldn’t do. And when things go south, they fire everyone, take their millions and leave. It is an elitist club not unlike the monarchies and slave owners of the past where they actually believe they are smarter, better, work harder, and deserve it more than anyone else. They are as delusional as they are inept. Yet, we all accept it because that is the way it is…..

  6. JJ Waltz

    Yes, when I worked for a big aerospace company, they would not call it a reduction in force, they’d call it “Resource Allocation” or “Right Sizing”. These companies are now using a monthly cost model to micromanage their costs and creating a constant revolving door of employment. As usual, the salary and bonus are disproportionate to the amount of work done.

  7. monkeyb

    Maybe of they got away from using java and using more of what firefox is using for chat ,html5. They would have more flexibility for creating cool looking software for younger genrations.

  8. The concept of “Job Creator” only has meaning when you accept the idea of creationism. Creationism is essentially creating nothing from nothing, but pretending otherwise. It is really a question of “playing a role” in a huge pretend game, just like she says.

  9. Mike Rowland

    The telling statement here is that companies are seeking to reduce costs balanced nearly exclusively on headcount. Whether stringing contractors along for years in violation of company rules, to simply cutting arbitrarily headcount, the bottom line is quarterly savings at the expense of long term innovation. Silicon Valley is rapidly losing the ability to retain talent and the only way big firms can compete now is to gobble up small, agile firms as a block on competition against their own lethargy.

    As someone who has been in the business of innovation, technical recruiting and talent resource management for more than 20 years, I am personally offended at the practice of reducing a person to the mistakes of his or her company’s lack of leadership. Yahoo and companies like it have lost the innovation race and they are likely to never see it again until they begin to organically grow it with incentives to employees that reward merit and end the egalitarian same for everyone bs that is driving sv into the ground.

  10. I recall an announcement of a management job being filled at the big corporation I used to work at. This person was being promoted to “Manager of footprint rationalization”. Not sure what means exactly but it sounds like outsourcing or layoffs are involved.

  11. Why does everyone expect companies to behave like saints? Do you behave like a saint? I’m pushing the rhetoric there. My point is we should really question how a company behaves, when we work a job, we are part of that company. A collective of people….hmmm. Maybe the way companies behave is a reflection of society and nature more so than corrupted individuals.

    • Peter

      Good point. Similar to an army. If a military strategy encourages marauding by the troops marauding happens, if the constitution on the country behind the army forbids it and enforces the prohibition, then it doesn’t happen.

  12. Brian Shock

    I once interviewed for a programming position where much of the work was outsourced to Asia. When I asked the interviewer more about this offshoring policy, she said something to the effect that she didn’t call it “offshoring” so much as “right-shoring.”

    And that was the moment I knew for certain I didn’t want to work for these people.

    If you feel a need to cloak your company’s actions in clever euphemisms, it’s probably long-past time you should’ve consulted your conscience.

  13. I don’t know why people are surprised with layoffs/firings/etc. A business is an entity that survives the ebbs and flows of real life by flexing/changing/etc. and that means people will be impacted since there is not any company/org/assoc anywhere that exists apart from people. It doesn’t matter how great you are, at some point change will be made for you whether you want it or not. So keep on top of the change by activating it yourself at the times most convenient to you so there is less impact to you realizing of course that eventually the unfortunate may catch up with you.