Friday, February 27, 2009


4 July 1977 – 26 February 2009

Everyone is doing it, or nearly everyone.

Starbucks, Macy’s, and Toyota are doing it.

Boeing and Hertz are doing it.

BT and Disney and Viacom and NBC Universal are doing it.

Panasonic and Sony are doing it.

Lenovo and Microsoft and Intel are doing it.

And despite this outlook, IBM is doing it too: cutting jobs.

Get a job.

Unlike the other companies above, IBM isn’t saying how many jobs are cut. But what I know is that IBM Research eliminated almost 200 positions in the US. Including mine. Yesterday was my last day at IBM, after almost 32 years.[1] Yesterday afternoon I turned in my keys and left the building for the last time.

We had a month from when we were notified to find other positions within the company; this was a “workforce reduction” — a “resource action”, as IBM calls it — and didn’t have to do with performance, or seniority, or any such... just about what projects they decided to keep, and which to cut. But, of course, with cuts in every part of the company within the US, it was essentially impossible to find any place that could add staff, so yesterday was the last day for nearly 200 of my Research colleagues, as well, and thousands more in the rest of the company have gone or will go soon.

It seems funny that the day coincides exactly with the Times article I cite above, which says this:

International Business Machines affirmed its full-year profit outlook on Thursday and forecast growth in its services business in the first quarter, in contrast to many technology companies that have scaled back expectations.

Shares of I.B.M. rose 3.7 percent, after the chief financial officer, Mark Loughridge, said at a Goldman Sachs technology conference that January’s results were consistent with the company’s forecast for at least $9.20 in earnings a share for 2009.

Nevertheless, I still have good things to say about the company. IBM was good to me for almost 32 years, and I’d been happy there. I got a lot from them, and I like to think that they got a lot from me. That time is over, and I’m looking for what’s next. And I’m glad for the many years I spent at IBM, and for the people I’ve known and worked with over that time.

Now, it’s on to something new.

I’ll leave you, today, with this video from the Silhouettes:


[1] Yes, my official start date was the 4th of July. My first two days with IBM were holidays, and I actually reported to work on the 6th. I liked to quip that they liked me so much, they made my start date a permanent holiday.


Beth B. said...

Good luck in your post-IBM life. You will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I echo the wishes from Beth... and since I knew you recently I will keep following you via this blog.

Best of luck!

Laurie said...

Again - yikes! I'm really sorry.

This is the third blog that I read regularly where the author has been laid off. Maybe I should stop reading ones I like and concentrate on ones I don't like....

The Ridger, FCD said...

Good luck in the future, Barry.

briwei said...

Ooooof. Sorry to hear you were a casualty of the economy. Here's hoping you land where and how you want.

scouter573 said...

Best of luck. I've worked with people who were laid off, I've been laid off, and I've laid people off. We are all on the edge, some closer than others. It is never easy; you are being unusually gracious.

Almost universally, the people I know who were laid off, myself included, were happier six months later. Of course, you have to get through that six months, but I hope your goal is to find a new and better happiness. I hope you find it soon.