IBM Hong Kong calls Cringely report of 100,000 layoffs ‘ludicrous;’ Cringely fires back

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Longtime technology pundit Robert Cringely on Jan. 22 reported that IBM this week will launch a massive corporate reorganization code-named Project Chrome that will result in 26% of its employees – more than 100,000 people -- losing their jobs.

If this is true, they have yet to receive the memo at IBM Hong Kong, which this morning issued a press release via the agency Ketchum Hong Kong that while not naming Cringely called the author of the layoff rumor “an industry gadfly” and his reporting both “stupid” and “ludicrous.” I have contacted IBM corporate media relations here in the U.S. to see if it concurs with its Hong Kong colleagues and to make sure this un-IBM-like language was authorized. (The Wall Street Journal also cites an anonymous IBM source refuting the report.)

Meanwhile, Cringely has fired back in response to an email from me.

From the IBM Hong Kong press release, which was also posted on its blog and Facebook page:

“IBM does not comment on rumors or speculation. However, we'll make an exception when the speculation is stupid. That's the case here, where an industry gadfly is trying to make noise about how IBM is about to lay off 26 percent of its workforce. That's over 100,000 people, which is totally ludicrous.

"The fact is that IBM already announced, after its disappointing 3Q earnings report, that the company would take a $600 million charge for restructuring. That's several thousand people. Not 10,000, or 100,000. Moreover, IBM currently has job postings for more than 10,000 professionals worldwide, with more than half of them in growth areas such as cloud, analytics, security and mobile technologies.”

And Cringley’s response to me:

“IBM is rightly quite frustrated by my work, which after all sheds light on what are at heart the business practices of a once-great company now corrupt and in decline. So they call me names. … The big layoff is coming on Wednesday. Thick envelopes are already in the mail. Let's see what IBM Hong Kong has to say at the end of the week.”

My guess is that someone at IBM Hong Kong and/or the PR agency got carried away. You'll know if I hear anything from IBM stateside.

(Update, Jan. 27: That nasty post is gone.)

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