Options Remain for Oracle Layoff Victims

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-01-13

Options Remain for Oracle Layoff Victims

The pain will sharpen soon. Oracle is on the brink of laying off thousands of people from PeopleSofts talent pool.

Oracle chief financial officer Harry You confessed, during a presentation to investors at a Needham & Co. Growth Conference (PDF file) in New York earlier this week, that the long-anticipated exact number of job cuts would likely be unveiled Friday. An Oracle spokeswoman said it could happen next week, though.

Either way, the ax falls soon. The number of PeopleSoft staffers that Oracle will lay off may well reach 6,000, if Larry Ellison was close to the final number when he was quoted on the subject over the summer.

Thats a full half of PeopleSofts staff as of the end of 2003, when it had 12,000 employees, according to regulatory filings. A Reuters article cited Richard Davis, managing director of Needham, as opining that Oracle will cut 80 percent of the sales positions and up to 90 percent of administrative rank and file but will keep most of PeopleSofts R&D team.

That makes perfect sense, according to mergers expert Mark Feldman, former partner and global head of the M&A consulting practice at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and currently senior vice president of marketing and business development at the compliance software company Virsa Systems.

As Feldman pointed out to me in a recent conversation, when it comes to two competing companies merging, any dramatic overlap will be in sales, given overlapping sales territory and account responsibilities.

Six thousand people losing their jobs is not a pretty sight. Theres a silver lining, of course, for companies that soak up the talent. That was evident in the ongoing discussion that ensued at one PeopleSoft employees blog.

Back in December, PeopleSoft employee David Sohigian went so far as to post a blog offering to former colleagues resumes as he sought to help get them out of a situation that many PeopleSoft employees obviously fear and loathe.

"I am going to start posting a resume a day of some high-caliber people that I have had the honor of working with over the past four years," Sohigian wrote. "If you are a recruiter or a hiring manager, please stay tuned—these are some of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with."

Sohigian got some good advice about serving as an in-house recruiting agent before people actually lost their jobs, and he withdrew the offer "until the folks actually dont have jobs. I am jumping the gun on this one," he wrote.

But his offer certainly wasnt lost on at least one poster who was sympathetic to PeopleSoft employees who have spent weeks in limbo, not knowing whether theyd be employed or not come digestion time.

"Based on my previous experience at a company that was laying off, if you announce a layoff situation and dont immediately let folks know whose jobs are being affected, people will leave," the poster wrote. "Not all of them, though … only the best ones."

It gets better. The poster detailed how her previous employer announced upcoming layoffs—and then waited a whopping six months to carry them out. More than enough time for the poster to find her new position—as a senior marketing recruiter for Microsoft, thank you very much.

"Anyhoo, we are definitely hiring for marketing talent at Microsoft as well as other areas," Heather Hamilton finished up her post. "Anyone with a software background, marketing or otherwise, should feel free to get their resume to me, and Ill get it into the right hands."

Next Page: USi says its ready and eager to expand its ranks.

USi Ready and Willing

I checked with Microsoft through official channels to get the dope on how active theyve been at sweeping up disenchanted PeopleSoft employees, but I got a predictably noncommittal answer: "With plans to hire up to 7,000 new employees this fiscal year, Microsoft is always on the lookout to attract and retain exceptional talent," a spokeswoman wrote to me.

"Though they do not discuss plans regarding recruitment of any specific individuals, they welcome all qualified applicants to contact Microsofts HR department to find out the latest on current opportunities with the company."

USi, the largest enterprise ASP and independent Oracle Managed Service Provider, was a heck of a lot more direct in assuring me that, regardless of its close relationships with both PeopleSoft and Oracle, it stands to benefit by filling its own ranks.

Microsoft is offering migration services and hefty discounts to try to lure PeopleSoft users. Click here to read more.

Larry Abramson, senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at USi, told me in a recent conversation that the company is ready and eager to pick up talented PeopleSoft people.

"We certainly never want to benefit from the misfortune of others, but we clearly would love to hire great people, and we think, unfortunately because of the merger, there will be great people looking for jobs, and we hope a lot of them consider us," he said.

"Were just a nice landing spot for great people who are looking for work in our core work areas. Oracle and PeopleSoft are two of our core work areas, and a lot of people over there know that."

Im sure PeopleSoft employees who want nothing to do with the new company have been working their networks for long before now, but it is good to keep in mind whos out there and where the good landing spots will be.

That wont make layoff day less painful, but heres hoping that theres enough need for good marketing and administrative talent—and enough thirst for PeopleSoft backgrounds out there—to soak up a good amount of the bloodshed. Good luck, o ye targets of Oracles ax, and remember that youve got friends out there.

Write to me and tell me where youre going to land if youre an Oracle layoff victim or, if youre a recruiter, how youre doing with scooping up PeopleSoft talent, at lisa_vaas@ziffdavis.com.

eWEEK.com Associate Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997.

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