Marissa Mayer makes 1,100 Yahooers jobless, calls it a "remix"

Why would a CEO be so tone-deaf as to call a mass-firing a "remix?" Because the only audience that matters today are shareholders, not the public.

Yahoo, like many companies that earn their incomes indirectly, has little interest in ensuring that the people who use its services view it as a "good company." Yahoo's "audience" is Wall Street, not you.

The fortunes of Wall Street go up when workers' fortunes go down. The more Yahoo spends on workers' wages, the less money there is for dividends for its investors. The boom in consultancies to motivate workers and make them loyal to the firm doesn't reflect an interest in worker happiness -- it's the outcome of capitalism with the gloves off, where we don't even pretend that companies should be loyal to workers anymore.

Corporations are immortal, transhuman artificial life-forms and humans are their gut flora. Gut flora and host organisms are often aligned in their interests. Ultimately, your gut flora's strategies are not yours. If the company is paying you as little as it can get away with and will cut you loose the minute it can, then logically, by the company's own terms of reference, you should be stealing office supplies while you sing the corporate hymn. HR spending is about figuring out ways to get you to act as though this isn't true, even though everyone knows it is.

If you're an investor in Yahoo, then the fact that the company just shut down a bunch of cost centers is amazing news. If you work at Yahoo, that same event means the people you care about and work with have gone home to tell their children that they're changing schools because they can't afford the mortgage anymore and the family is relocating somewhere cheaper. They've moved their aging, frail parents out of their nice nursing homes and into cheaper, more ghastly ones.

It's a remix, all right, in the same sense in which an earthquake is a remix, or a tsunami.

A “remix” is when you create a different version of something, usually by adding or removing elements. It’s a term most often applied to songs, although it’s also appropriate to use in the context of photographs, films, and artwork. CEOs rarely use it to describe something as momentous as a major enterprise’s transition, especially if said transition involves layoffs of longtime employees, because it could potentially appear flippant to observers. If you run your own firm (no matter how large), it always pays to use as formal language as possible when referring to anything that affects your employees’ lives and careers.

Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a ‘Remix.’ Don’t Do That. [Nick Kolakowski/Dice]

(via /.)

(Image: The 7th Annual Crunchies Awards on February 10, 2014 in San Francisco, Techcrunch, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. Anyone who has worked in corporate 'murica for any number of years knows that executives are always on the hunt for words other than "layoff" when there's a layoff, and I've heard them all. Downsizing, right-sizing, realigning, shifting of resources, resource alignment, and on it goes...and now Mayer's "remix", which has probably caused countless CEOs to wet their pants with excitement over a new layoff word.

  2. JonS says:

    I guess 'remix' is a lot catchier than "I'm so terrible at my job that I was unable to find a way to lead this company into a profitable future that we could all share in"

  3. Just a couple of weeks ago I was told "your position is impacted by the outsourcing currently taking place", so I was "impacted".

    Recent internal notices about colleagues being fired are described as "leaving for external employment opportunities".

  4. LDoBe says:

    I find it really depressing the disparity in history education between the US and the entire rest of the developed world.

    In my education, we went over US history numerous times, from the American Revolution forward, and also did a little European history. There's a lot of whitewashing in American primary and secondary education, and it's quite frankly bad for us as a country. Patting ourselves on the back while glossing over what we did to the Native Americans, and how we meddled in many other country's affairs.

    I had to learn for myself about US imperialism in South America. That was never taught in school.

    But then I talk to Canadians, and they have a good understanding of Canadian, US, Mexican, and South American history, as well as European history. They're taught a lot more about their first nations, I talk to people from Holland, they know much more world history than Americans do.

    I talk to people from the UK, and they know both European and American history.

    It makes me almost guilty. Everyone else knows American history because we export our culture so heavily, but Americans are very selective about the culture they import from other places.

    As much of a melting pot as we are, the US is very good at enforcing integration.

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