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Apr 22, 2001

A couple decades ago I was employed by Motorola.  Motorola went through some tough times coming out of the internet stock bubble that didn’t have much to do with the stock bubble popping.

Here’s a great email about the layoffs that ensued after their trouble.  It is dated, but timeless none the less.

NEW YORK, N.Y. ( - Motorola will reduce its workforce
by an unprecedented 120 percent by the end of 2001, believed to be
the first time a major corporation has laid off more employees than
it actually has. Motorola stock soared more than 12 points on the
news. The reduction decision, announced Wednesday, came after a
year-long internal review of cost-cutting procedures, said Motorola
Chairman and CEO Chris Galvin. The initial report concluded the
company would save $1.2 billion by eliminating 20 percent of its
108,000 employees. From there, said Chris, "it didn't take a genius
to figure out that if we cut 40 percent of our workforce, we'd save
$2.4 billion, and if we cut 100 percent of our workforce, we'd save
$6 billion. But then we thought, why stop there? Let's cut another
20 percent and save $7 billion.
"We believe in increasing shareholder value, and we believe that by
decreasing expenditures, we enhance our competitive cost position and
our bottom line," he added.
Motorola plans to achieve the 100 percent internal reduction through
layoffs, attrition and early retirement packages. To achieve the 20
percent in external reductions, the company plans to involuntarily
downsize 22,000 non-Motorola employees who presently work for other
"We pretty much picked them out of a hat," said Chris.
Among firms Motorola has picked as "External Reduction Targets," or
ERTs, are Quaker Oats, AMR Corporation, parent of American Airlines,
Lockheed, Boeing, and Charles Schwab & Co. Motorola's plan presents a
"win-win" for the company and ERTs, said Chris, as any savings by ERTs
would be passed on to Motorola, while the ERTs themselves would
benefit by the increase in stock price that usually accompanies
personnel cutback announcements.
"We're also hoping that since, over the years, we've been really
helpful to a lot of companies, they'll do this for us kind of as a
favor," said Chris.
Legally, pink slips sent out by Motorola would have no standing at
ERTs unless those companies agreed. While executives at ERTs declined
to comment, employees at those companies said they were not inclined
to cooperate.
"This is ridiculous. I don't work for Motorola. They can't fire me,"
said Kaili Blackburn, a flight attendant with American Airlines.
Reactions like that, replied Chris, "are not very sporting."
Inspiration for Motorola's plan came from previous cutback
initiatives, said company officials. In January of 1998, for instance,
the company announced it would trim 18,000 jobs over two years.
However, just a year later, Motorola said it had already reached its
quota. "We were quite surprised at the number of employees willing to
leave Motorola in such a hurry, and we decided to build on that,"
Chris said.
Analysts credited Chris's short-term vision, noting that the
announcement had the desired effect of immediately increasing
Motorola's share value. However, the long-term ramifications could be
detrimental, said Bear Stearns analyst Beldon McInty.
"It's a little early to tell, but by eliminating all its employees,
Motorola may jeopardize its market position and could, at least
theoretically, cease to exist," said McInty.
Chris, however, urged patience: "To my knowledge, this hasn't been
done before, so let's just wait and see what happens."

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