Jobs were the main focus of President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. Google seems to have taken it to heart. Senior Vice President Alan Eustace announced that the company would be hiring 6,000 people, rivaling its 2010 mass hiring. “We’ll hire as many smart, creative people as we can to tackle some of the toughest challenges in computer science,” he wrote.
Some of those hires could be former Yahoo employees. As the company prepared to release its fourth quarter earnings, it announced it would be laying off about 1 percent of its staff, or about 150 people. This follows the layoff of 4 percent of the staff in December.
The layoffs are part of CEO Carol Bartz’s larger strategy to redefine the company in the age of Google, Apple, and Facebook dominance. She is exactly halfway through her four-year contract, and the company is showing signs of improvement, but there are still many obstacles along the way. Net income for the fourth quarter was higher than expected, but revenue was down.
The rise in income can largely be credited to Bartz’s ability to squeeze money from a stone by cutting jobs and services. She was also proud to announce that, “Display advertising grew 17 percent.” Still, the company’s market share in domestic display advertising dropped 0.3 percent since 2009, while Facebook’s has grown 6.3 percent and Google’s has skyrocketed by 8.7 percent. Yahoo may be growing, but investors are worried whether it is growing fast enough to keep up with its competitors.
Sam Diaz of ZDNet points out that, “A massive turnaround for a company of that magnitude won’t come fast or easy.” At the same time, he also asks the question that has been bothering investors: “How much time should Bartz be given to turn Yahoo around?”
They might also ask, “How many employees must be laid off before Yahoo turns around?” Bartz herself has indicated that the answer is not many. She says that the company should end 2011 with more employees than it has now, i.e., she foresees hiring in the not so distant future. It may not be soon enough for the employees about to lose their jobs, but at least Google is hiring.