Tag: staff

More top execs flee Uber

Uber is in a bit of trouble as its top executives flee the organisation.

Company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help soften its often abrasive image, has decided that there is nothing he can do for the outfit and has cleared out his desk.

Jones told the press he could not continue as president of a business with which he was incompatible.

“I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term. It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business,” he added.

Jones’ role was put into question after Uber earlier this month launched a search for a chief operating officer to help run the company alongside Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.

Jones had been performing some of those COO responsibilities. He joined Uber from Target Corp (TGT.N), where he was chief marketing officer and is credited with modernising the retailer’s brand.

Uber’s vice president of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon said he wants to leave the company at the end of the month to explore politics.

But they are the latest in a string of high-level executives to leave the company.

Engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at Alphabet Google. Earlier this month, Ed Baker, Uber’s vice president of product and growth, and Charlie Miller, Uber’s famed security researcher, departed.

Uber, while it has long had a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup, has been battered like a Scottish Mars bar lately with multiple controversies over the last several weeks.

Some are even daring to question Kalanick’s leadership capabilities, although it is unlikely they do it to his face.

A former Uber employee last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. The blog post prompted an internal investigation that is being led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology.

Uber is facing a lawsuit from Alphabet self-driving car division that accuses it of stealing designs for autonomous car technology known as Lidar. Uber has said the claims are false.

Jones expected to be Kalanick’s No. 2. Jones and was tasked with overseeing the bulk of Uber’s global operations, including leading the ride-hailing program, running local Uber services in every city, marketing, and customer service, and working with drivers.


Jim Mackey leaves Blackberry

Blackberry head of corporate development and strategy,Jim Mackey has quietly cleaned out his desk and snuck out of the building without anyone noticing.

Mackey left the company in the middle of February and it appears that no-one has thought to alert the media. The move does dump Blackberry in it somewhat as it lacks leadership as it tried to move from smartphone hardware to software.

Mackey, who was executive vice president, executive operations, made his own announcement on social notworking site Linkedin. He did not give a reason and became unavailable for comment.

Blackberry, which in late 2013 issued a press release on the hiring of Mackey, did not announce his exit. Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard refused to answer any questions either.

Mackey worked directly with Blackberry Chief Executive John Chen, navigating the purchase and integration of a string of acquisitions and the signing of major partnership agreements.

Beard said in the interview that the company had largely completed its software portfolio and needed to push hard to win more customers, including by adding partners.

“The biggest issue we have is not getting invited to the table because the customer doesn’t know that BlackBerry is doing that. That’s the challenge.”

Axeman looms large at Huawei

Staff at Huawei fear jobs cuts after internal memos highlighted intense pressure to improve earnings.

A key executive said the flagship smartphone business had missed internal profit targets and lost its top spot in China, the world’s biggest market, to new contender Oppo last year.

Richard Yu, head of its consumer business division that includes mobile device operation said mobile gear is still profitable but the profit margin is very low.

In an internal memo sent last Friday, Huawei Group founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei urged all employees to work hard, saying the company would otherwise “fall apart”.

“Thirty-something strong men, don’t work hard, just want to count money in bed, is that possible? Huawei will not pay for those that don’t work hard.”

This has rattled Huawei’s 170,000-strong workforce, 45 percent of which are in research and development,which is probably one of the least secure areas to be working.

“We are now all thinking more of the next steps, realising permanent employment with the company is no longer a given,” one worker moaned to the press.

According to company insiders, Huawei maintained its five percent annual quota to eliminate the worst performers, but was seen indirectly pushing underperformers out by asking them to relocate to undesirable posts.

“Huawei does not have a layoff plan,” the company said in an emailed response, declining further comment.

Consumer business chief Yu said in his New Year’s address to staff that the company needed to adhere to a “streamline strategy” in personnel as well as product portfolio as it must make profitability its focus in 2017.

“We will seek to improve efficiency and profitability by focusing on organizations at all levels, every employee, and every detail, and strictly control costs and risks to ensure sound development, ” Yu said.

“We will not tolerate low-performing managers, and prioritize removal of managers who fail to make noteworthy improvements after working in a position for several years.”


Court allows Apple to search its staff’s bags

089010117803Fruity cargo cult Apple has been allowed by a court to conduct bag searches of its staff at least in the optimistically titled Land of the Free.

Apple retail workers sued Jobs’ Mob over bag search practices at the company’s California cathedrals of the Apple faith. They wanted to be reimbursed for the time taken by Apple to search their bags to ensure they did not steal any shiny toys.

Two Apple retail store workers complained directly to Chief Executive Tim Cook that the technology company’s policy of checking retail employees’ bags as a security precaution was embarrassing and demeaning. Even more demeaning than working for Apple in the first place.

Lee Shalov, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said they are disappointed by the ruling and intend to explore all options, including a possible appeal.

Plaintiffs Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle alleged that “screenings”, or bag searches, designed to discourage theft, are conducted every time sales reps leave the store, including for meal breaks.

Alsup said Apple workers did not have to bring a bag to work, and thus would not be subjected to the delays of a search. No Apple employee filed court papers mentioning that they need to bring a bag, Alsup wrote.

“Apple took a milder approach to theft prevention and offered its employees the option to bring bags and personal Apple devices into a store subject to the condition that such items must be searched when they leave the store,” the Judge wrote.

Amazon and New York Times in handbag scrap

rampage-black-friday-mainAmazon is having a handbags at dawn duel with the New York Times over a story it ran about how working for the online bookseller is a nightmare.

Two months ago the New York Times penned a yarn about Amazon’s workplace culture and  the tough work environment.

Amazon has been hitting back. Jay Carney, Amazon’s SVP of global corporate affairs, swung back at the newspaper and said it failed to adhere to journalistic standards, noting that the article in question relied heavily on anecdotes from former Amazon employees and didn’t provide enough context.

Carney specifically refuted the accounts of four employees who were quoted in the Times article. It appeared that he was prepared to get nasty too. For example one of the Times quoted employees, Bo Olson, resigned from Amazon after he was caught trying to defraud vendors.

The executive editor at the Times, Dean Baquet, swung his handbag back a few hours later saying that Carney merely challenged the four employees’ credibility, but did not dispute the article’s overall findings.

Carney didn’t try to argue that Amazon is a great place to work, nor did he repudiate the Times’s characterization of its workplace as “bruising.” He specifically took aim at a handful of employees who provided anecdotes to the Times under their real names.

Baquet pointed out that Olson denies any allegations of fraud.

Qualcomm is likely to break up

divorce460Chipmaker Qualcomm said it may break itself up as it delivered its third profit warning this year and announced plans to slash 4,000 jobs and spending in the face of rising competition.

The outfit plans to reduce costs by $1.4 billion, cut about 4,500 full-time staff, or 15 percent of its workforce.

The staff cuts were expected but were closer to what deep throats told it earlier in the week than the Wall Street Journal’s prediction of 3,000.

Qualcomm shares have lost a fifth of their value in a year.

Hedge fund Jana Partners called for Qualcomm to spin off its chip business from its profitable patent licensing income, among other changes the activist asked for.

Qualcomm president Derek Aberle said the company had decided to take a fresh look at the corporate structure.

“The environment is constantly changing so the analysis done earlier may not be valid anymore, so it’s in that context that we’re taking a look at it again now,” Aberle said.

The company said it expected to complete its strategic review by the end of the year and agreed to add three new board members in cooperation with the activist.

Qualcomm is facing intense competition from Taiwan’s MediaTek and a handful of small Chinese companies that specialise in making chips for low-priced phones.

Samsung said it would use its own processor for the new Galaxy S6 smartphone instead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon.

The company cut both its full year revenue forecast and the outlook for its semiconductor business.

Revenues fell 14.3 percent to $5.83 billion in the third quarter — the first quarterly fall in five years — and missed the average analyst estimate of $5.85 billion.

Qualcomm decimates staff

tumblr_inline_mr4fuieOKe1qz4rgpChipmaker Qualcomm has decided that the best way for it to resolve all its problems is to use the Ancient Roman practice of decimation.

In the good old days, if a Roman legion was not performing properly the commander would pick ten percent of them by lot and beat them to death as a warning to the others. The practice was abandoned when the Roman legions could not get the staff, and Qualcomm will be less lethal in its methods, but the result will be the same.

The chipmaker is expected to announce the job cuts when it releases its quarterly results on tomorrow after reporting a 46 percent drop in second-quarter profit in April.

It is facing increasing competition from Taiwan’s MediaTek and a handful of small Chinese companies that specialize in making chips for low-priced phones.

Qualcomm could shift more research and development activities to low-cost countries such as India for further cost savings.

The first site to suggest this was going to happen was Fudzilla who suggested it last week. It claimed 4,000 and it seems that 3,000 is closer to the mark.

Qualcomm forecast third-quarter revenue and profit below analysts’ expectations in April, saying the loss of a key customer and delays in product launches by some smartphone makers will hurt sales of its flagship Snapdragon chips.

Qualcomm has also been under pressure from hedge fund Jana Partners to spin off its chip business from its highly profitable patent-licensing business.

In addition, EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Qualcomm uses illegal tactics to shut out rivals, six years after slapping a record $1.09 billion fine on Intel for something similar.

Yahoo claims to have fixed its staffing problem

Search outfit Yahoo claims to have fixed one of its biggest problems – all the talented staff wanted to work for other companies.

When CEO Marissa Mayer took charge she moved swiftly to fix a lack of talent in the company by buying companies and drafting their employees to work for Yahoo. The biggest buy out was the $1.1 billion purchase of blogging service, Tumblr.

Now Yahoo thinks the problem is solved and its talent crisis is over. Chief financial offer, Ken Goldman, who spoke at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in San Francisco that in the old days, companies did not want to be bought by Yahoo, because they did not want to work there. That’s not the case any more.”

Goldman’s statement is backed up by the company’s annual report, which claims that it received more than 340,000 job applications in 2013 which was double the number in 2012. Yahoo is the third-highest-paying company in Silicon Valley for engineers last year, behind Juniper Networks and LinkedIn.

But Yahoo is not considered a great place to work. It did not make the recruitment site Glassdoor’s list of the 50 best places to work.

Mayer hacked off staff by refusing to let people work from home and for scheduling weekly meetings on Friday afternoons. However, Goldman said that she had changed the attitude and morale at Yahoo. 

Blackberry guts senior stuff

It seems that the top executives of Blackberry are fleeing the doomed outfit before it sinks.

Three top executives have been seen emptying their desks and putting the photographs of their family into old photocopy boxes as recently appointed Chief Executive John Chen embarks on his promised a shakeup at the struggling smartphone maker.

Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear, Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben have collected their pink slips and P45s and CFO Brian Bidulka has been promoted to a “special advisor” until he goes in March.

Tear played a key role in BlackBerry’s latest restructuring, while Boulben was instrumental in the company changing its branding and name to BlackBerry from Research In Motion.

Chen said he aims to make the company a top provider for companies and governments of mobile devices and device-management tools.

It looks like he is there to stay. Certainly, he is not keeping the company on an even keel until a new boss is appointed, like most interim CEOs. In fact he is making many hands on changes of his own.

Chen is by nature a turnaround artist and sorted out software maker Sybase in the late 1990s so he probably can’t resist the challenge.

BlackBerry did not name replacements for the other two executives exiting the company, but signalled more changes could be coming. It said Roger Martin, a board member since 2007, has also resigned. 

Post Office admits faulty software jailed staff

The UK Post Office has admitted that dodgy software has wrongly prosecuted staff for theft and forced some to pay back money they did not take.

More than 100 say they were wrongly prosecuted or made to repay money after computers made non-existent shortfalls. Some have lost their homes and others jailed because of the software cock-up.

The Post Office claimed that an internal report showed its system was effective but admitted that better training and support was needed.

That is not what independent investigators Second Sight, who were employed by the Post Office, said when they looked at the software.

According to the BBC, Second Sight said that although there was no evidence of systemic problems with the core software, it did have bugs.

One of these occasions resulted in shortfalls of up to £9,000 at 76 branches. In this case, at least, the Post Office later made good those losses and the sub-postmasters were not held liable.

But in other situations that has not been the case and the problem has mostly been with sub-postmasters, who run the smaller post offices in the UK, and are not directly employed by the Post Office.

They have to balance their books using the Post Office’s Horizon computer system which processes all transactions.

Sub-postmasters have claimed for years that they have been wrongly accused of theft after their computers notified them of shortages that sometimes amounted to tens of thousands of pounds.

They had to pay in the missing amounts themselves, lost their contracts and in some cases went to jail.

Second Sight said the Post Office’s initial investigation failed at first to identify the root cause of the problems. It said that more help should have been given to sub-postmasters, who had no way of defending themselves.

Now some of them are thinking of suing.

One nightmare case happened to Jo Hamilton, who used to run a sub-post office from her village shop in South Warnborough.

In 2005 she got to the end of a week and was £2,000 short so she rang the helpdesk and they told her to do various things before claiming she was £4,000 short.

They then said that she had to pay £4,000 because her contract said she would make good any losses. However, while she was doing that, the figure jumped up to £9,000.

The shortfalls kept getting higher and by the time the figure reached £36,000, she lied to the Post Office, wrongly telling them the books were balancing just so that she could open the office the next day.

She ended up pleading guilty to false accounting.

The Post Office has proposed setting up a working group to investigate further.