A few days ago I wrote about lay-offs and how I was glad we played it safe with our hiring strategy. Today, I read over at Techcrunch that Mahalo is cutting 10% of its staff. The thing I was most impressed with was CEO Jason Calacanis' honest admission that he let down the people who he had to lay-off.
"It’s my responsibility to make this hard decision and I don’t take it lightly. To the people impacted I’m very sorry that I wasn’t able to anticipate this better. It’s my fault and I’m sorry that you’ve got to bear the burden of my inability to better prepare."
Contrast this with the somewhat arms length statement Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang made when he announced his 10% cut.
"affected employees will be notified of layoffs in the next several weeks. we understand that hearing this news now creates uncertainty, but we are moving ahead in a way that balances speed with a clear focus on accomplishing what is necessary to set the organization up for long term success. going forward it will continue to be important for us to make the right decisions to keep our business efficient and strong.
having layoffs is very difficult, particularly in light of all we’ve experienced this year. but we don’t take these decisions lightly, and are committed to treating affected employees fairly, offering severance and outplacement services."
In my very humble opinion, Jason's statement had genuine feeling and an admission of failure. It sounded like he really cared about his employees and that he took full responsibility for his actions. Jerry, on the other hand, seemed to take a very corporate approach in his statement. Almost as if he's disconnected from the entire process. In saying that they are "moving ahead in a way that balances speed with a clear focus", I felt he placed some of the blame on the company's poor performance on the employees themselves. As if letting them go will help turn the ship around. Let's not take into account the fact that Yahoo! could have sold itself to Microsoft just a few months ago for more than 2.5 times its current value. Or go back a few years and ask why Yahoo! couldn't counteract the Google threat even as they were sending millions of queries a day when Google powered their search engine. No where did I ever hear an admission of guilt from Jerry even though he is the head of the company.
In all fairness, it's easier to be close with your employees when the count is 50-60 versus 14,000+ and Jerry can't be blamed for all that is wrong with Yahoo! He inherited a company that lost its edge the day they decided to outsource their search technology. Still, a little contrition couldn't hurt.