Earlier this month, it looked as though employers were cutting jobs at a faster rate in August than they had in months past. Now we have the hard numbers and, unfortunately, the earlier reports were correct.
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employers enacted 1,258 mass layoffs -- layoffs involving at least 50 people from a single company -- in August 2003. Nearly 134,000 jobs were cut in those layoffs, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the BLS says. In August 2002, there were 1,248 mass layoffs affecting 128,103 jobs.
While there was no telecom-specific data in the BLS report, there was this disturbing tidbit: Both the number of layoff events and the number of initial claims has increased from year-to-year. Ugh.
On that note, let's see who's doing what in the telecom world, as we review another week's worth of hirings, firings, and other employment news.
Ethernet access startup Hatteras Networks is having a hard time holding onto a CEO. In March, Thomas R. McPherson gave up his CEO post to Peter Savage, the former president and CEO of Applied Digital Access, who had been working at Hatteras as VP of business development. But sometime later, Savage was shown the door and Kevin Sheehan, Hatteras's VP of marketing, took the CEO post. Perhaps Headcount is being alarmist, but is it a sign of stability when a startup switches CEOs three times in less than seven months? Calls to Hatteras were not returned on Monday afternoon.
Silicon Access Networks Inc. may or may not have closed its doors, according to varied reports from those close to the company. One thing is for sure: Things are not good. One former director-level employee tells Headcount that employees have been furloughed until the management team can raise more funds. When contacted earlier today, even the firm's PR agency couldn't say for sure whether the company was still in business.
At last count, Silicon Access had raised more than $124 million in venture funding, which makes any news of its closure all the more significant (see Silicon Access Nabs Huawei). It announced a deal with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. this year, but competitors continue to fuel allegations that the deal never materialized (see Huawei Chip Deal: Who's Got It?). Company officials did not respond to requests for comment.
LightCross Inc. said goodbye to its chief operating officer, Jim Pinyan, in recent weeks. It's not clear when Pinyan left, but the company confirmed on Monday that he no longer works there. Pinyan had been with LightCross since January 2002, following a VP of marketing gig at InLight Communications. Jim worked at Terayon Communication Systems Inc.'s Telecom Carrier Solutions marketing group before InLight. Lightcross's last public announcement of any kind came in July, when it talked up its high-speed variable optical attenuator arrays.
Pull up your black knee-high socks and put on your best tropical shirt! Lucent Technologies Inc.'s (NYSE: LU) "Calm the Pensioners" world tour, starring Henry Schacht, kicks off tomorrow in the bustling burg of Greensboro, N.C. (see Lucent Retirees Get the Schacht). The former Lucent CEO -- who got $1,100,000 in 2002 -- is charged with helping Lucent's retiree population understand why some of their benefits are getting whacked as the company hunkers down and hunts for profits. Headcount's staff will dye our hair blue this week as a token of our best wishes for both sides.
"Aloha" means goodbye for some Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) managers. Verizon offered 550 of its 2,000 Hawaiian employees severance packages so that the carrier could cut its headcount there, according to reports by The Associated Press. Six days ago, the carrier cut its profit estimates for the year and blamed everyone within a lawyer's throw for its troubles (see Verizon Cuts Outlook, Blames Everyone).
Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. has hired Victor Nesi to head its telecommunications and media corporate banking group. Again. According to a report in Investment Dealers Digest, Nesi has come back to Merrill after having left in May to run his own company. Headcount isn't sure if the returning telecom banker's story is a good omen for the industry or a bad one for entrepreneurship.
Here are some of the other employment-related happenings from the past week: