Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 31st May 2006 22:32 UTC
Oracle and SUN Sun Microsystems will fire up to 5000 workers this year, as the company tries to cut costs and make it easier to post quarterly profits. All told, Sun expects to cleave off between 11 per cent and 13 per cent of its 37500 person workforce. The firings mark the first mass layoff to take place under new CEO Jonathan Schwartz. Sun has historically been reluctant to let go of staff, despite Wall Street's constant calls to trim costs via layoffs. CNet has more.
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Unfortunate, but necessary
by binarycrusader on Wed 31st May 2006 22:52 UTC
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Every company eventually needs to trim its payroll. In this particular case, it was long overdue. SUN doesn't need 40k+ employees!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Unfortunate, but necessary
by kaiwai on Thu 1st Jun 2006 02:21 UTC in reply to "Unfortunate, but necessary"
kaiwai Member since:

Definately true; when you see the amount of stuff put out by Apple, with only around 10K employees; one has to wonder whats happening at Sun.

Although I do feel sorry for those who are about to lose their jobs, and hopefully, they'll find new jobs quickly, at the same time, IIRC, 25K is apparently the number which Sun needs to get 'things done', so even if they do keep 32,000 - they'll still be over manned for what is actually necessary.

It'll be interesting to see what the make up of the 5,000 are, from my understanding a while back, from Scott, the jobs to be shead will be in noncore areas which will be outsourced - such as payroll, finance etc. etc.

Reply Score: 1

by amigascne on Wed 31st May 2006 23:30 UTC
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Is the use of the word "fire" and phrase "cleave off" a bit crude, if not sensationalist? When I think of someone getting fired (or sacked), it is because of something they did (or didn't do) with regard to company policy or their individual job requirements. This seems like another jab at Sun to paint them as the bad guys. A reduction in Sun's overall number of employee's is something everyone has been expecting for quite some time now and seems like a good move to me.

The new Sun is really starting to turn heads again. They have done a good job of winning back the techies with their recent hardware line up, Solaris 10 and renewed focus on OSS. Now they are getting the business types to take another look too. This is all good news for Sun.

Reply Score: 3

RE: firing?
by Jody on Thu 1st Jun 2006 12:51 UTC in reply to "firing?"
Jody Member since:

This is all good news for Sun.

Since when is having to downsize the company ever really good news?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: firing?
by Wintermute on Thu 1st Jun 2006 15:51 UTC in reply to "RE: firing?"
Wintermute Member since:

Since the time that any given company becomes over staffed. While I certainly wouldn't like to be one of those 5000 people being fired, I can see the reasoning behind downsizing. Furthermore, in the long term, downsizing is the only solution for all of Sun's employees. If you avoid reducing costs, eventually the whole firm will collapse.

Reply Score: 1

New servers?
by DittoBox on Wed 31st May 2006 23:56 UTC
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"Sun Releases Fire 5000 Plan"

Ugh, I read the header thinking " Sun prod...oh wait, they're firing people".

Shouldn't the header read 'Sun Plans To Fire 5000 Employees'?

Reply Score: 5

Poor wording for this story
by ormandj on Thu 1st Jun 2006 00:15 UTC
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"Sun Plans to Layoff 5000 Employees" would probably be more accurate. Sun isn't firing anybody (as in the negative sense of the word, which is what most people think of when they think about "firing.")

This truly does seem to be a negative jab at a company, doing what it needs to do, in order to make financial headway (which is every company's purpose.) The fact that Sun has done its' best to avoid layoffs at all costs shows it isn't simply a mean-spirited butcher-block type mass firing.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Poor wording for this story
by segedunum on Thu 1st Jun 2006 08:28 UTC in reply to "Poor wording for this story"
segedunum Member since:

Sun isn't firing anybody (as in the negative sense of the word, which is what most people think of when they think about "firing.")

There's really no other way of putting it. It's an unpleasant business and people are losing their jobs.

Reply Score: 1

ormandj Member since:

Look at the post you are replying to. That's the "other way of putting it" you seek....

Reply Score: 1

Y2K-like problem
by fyysik on Thu 1st Jun 2006 00:35 UTC
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Well, they'll fit into int16 with that move.

But MSFT is now in danger of uint16 overflow, with 63500+ employees.

Reply Score: 3

by taos on Thu 1st Jun 2006 01:40 UTC
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The word "Fire 5000" here is obviously to resemble Sun's product line, as many have noticed, hence the word "release" also.

Not very nice for a layoff event.

I wish those people all the best.
I hope most are proud of having Sun Microsystems on their resume, as I am.

As an example, I read this blog today:
(although he is obviously not part of layoff)

Also noticed Jonathan has a new post:

Reply Score: 2

RE: New servers?
by Wes Felter on Thu 1st Jun 2006 02:13 UTC
Wes Felter
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So is the Sun Fire 5000 based on SPARC or Opteron? Hmm, probably SPARC. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Poor wording for this story
by kaiwai on Thu 1st Jun 2006 09:21 UTC
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Well, one could say, "Sun is reducing its head count" or "Sun is letting go 5,000 employees" or "Sun lays off 5,000 employees".

The problem with the word firing, it brings up negative conotations, as if the 5,000 employees at Sun had lost their job due to incompetency, when in reality, it was a decision by upper management to reduce the head count to something they consider 'acceptable' in way of profits vs. employee head count vs. output.

Sometimes tough decisions have to made, and I'm sure, barring a few assholes, that most management don't want to let go of people - many are people they know, friends, family, close colleagues, but at the same time, they must divorce the needs of the company from their own person desires; I would hate to be in that position, having to let people go, but ultimately, it had to be done, be it reluctantly.

Reply Score: 1

how short is human memory
by bbr2net on Thu 1st Jun 2006 12:02 UTC
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am I the only one to remenber Schwartz word from 04/26/2006?

'At the same time, some Wall Street analysts have concluded that Mr. Schwartz's arrival signals that cutbacks will soon follow. In a research note on Monday, Laura Conigliaro, a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote that she believed the company would make cuts in personnel and infrastructure totaling $1.5 billion to $2 billion as soon as July.

"Our checks indicate that Sun could reduce work force by at least 5,000 and potentially by 7,000 to 8,000," out of a current payroll of 37,800, she wrote.

But if changes at Sun may appease Wall Street and the reaction on Tuesday was tentative, with Sun's stock up a penny to $4.99 Mr. Schwartz is not encouraging expectations that he will wield an ax.

"That is the last thing I will do," he said on Tuesday. "I'm not looking at shrinking Sun."


Reply Score: 3

Thom Releases Fire Self Plan
by j-s-h on Thu 1st Jun 2006 16:56 UTC
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Title says it all.

Reply Score: 0

El Reg has a knack for cynical headlines
by robilad on Thu 1st Jun 2006 19:41 UTC
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No need to copy them 1:1, though.

Reply Score: 1

If this were Dell
by alcibiades on Thu 1st Jun 2006 20:16 UTC
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If this were Dell, we would have a host of comments explaining that this was proof that the 'commodity model' is not sustainable. Not one has appeared suggesting that this proves that the 'end to end model' is not sustainable. And the story doesn't even make the links of the true blue end to end apologists.

It is striking that Sun is the other company following the 'end to end' model of OS and hardware developed in house, and until recently locked together. You can see the financial results at

and they show, like Apple's results, and interestingly unlike Dell's, great volatility of earnings. Unlike Apple's, there is a revenue picture which reaches a peak and then declines. But if you looked at Apple minus the iPod, you would likely see the same thing. If you look at the stock price, its done nothing for several years now.

One shouldn't argue too much from this to the general case, but one way to look at it is, the move from the 'end to end' model to the 'Dell model' in our industry was part of the move from the equivalent of custom craftsmanship in the early years of an industry to mass production.

There are two kinds of surviviors: the Jaeger-Lecoultres, and the Swatches. Apple has diversified out. Sun's problem is. its caught in the middle, neither one thing nor the other. Will Schwartz be able to turn it around? Its very difficult indeed. I have never worked anywhere where this was done successfully, but have always believed the right course was a ruthless committment to becoming the low cost producer - but not competing on price.

But no-one I consulted for or worked for has ever been prepared to make a serious effort to implement it.

Maybe they were right, I don't think so, but maybe. However, they didn't have an alternative except to muddle through with half measures, and that never worked very well.

Edited 2006-06-01 20:19

Reply Score: 0