Headcount: Workplace Weirdness

What exactly is in the eggnog this holiday season? Headcount asks only because it seems that the number of tragic and/or comic workplace incidents is rapidly on the rise. We had some market research on this, but after that last belt of holiday cheer, we can't find it anywhere.

Still, we wonder what possesses an airport security screener to toss off a threat to blow up his own checkpoint. And why does a KFC employee attempt to rob the same store that signs his checks without bothering to wear a mask?

Such sorriness reminds us of the bank robbing genius who picked a target located squarely between Scotland Yard and Buckingham Palace. Location, location, location, people...

As you ponder such absurdities, we'll get on with unmasking some of the past week's most interesting hirings and firings:

  • Robert Wohlford, former VP of marketing at Corvis Corp. (Nasdaq: CORV), is now only serving as a consultant to the company. Wohlford decided to spend more time with his family, prompting the move from a full-time gig, according to a Corvis spokesperson. Corvis employed 883 people at the end of the third quarter and will cut about 165 jobs when it finishes reorganizing its French subsidiary early next year.

    Headcount warmly notes that the families of our good, strong nation must be eternally grateful when so many full-time workers can just give up their jobs -- in the heat of a recession, no less -- to spend more time with them. Attendance at youth soccer games and PTA meetings must be reaching historical highs this year thanks to the voluntary stay-at-home spirit that inspires so many.

  • Centerpoint Broadband Technologies Inc. couldn't make it as a whole, so it's shutting down and selling the sum of its parts, founder and CEO Dana Waldman says (see Centerpoint's Yard Sale). The company employed about 100 people in May, down from the more than 400 that worked there at the company's peak in mid 2001. About a year after acquiring Zaffire Inc. in July 2001, Centerpoint sold its wireless broadband business and focused on selling WDM boxes to carriers (see Centerpoint Sells Wireless Division). It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2002.

  • Oh, Canada! Laser maker Alfalight Inc. is in the process of closing its Montreal manufacturing facility. Those operations will be consolidated to the company's Madison, Wisc., headquarters. (Break out the cheese!) The company employs about 55 people now, down from its last publicly reported headcount of 85, in June 2001. Last week, Alfalight announced it closed a $15 million funding round. That third funding round brings the company's kitty to $49.1 million raised to date.

  • CipherOptics has hired Dave Mathews (not the band leader) as a channel development manager (or was that channel changer?) to help the startup find new markets for its gigabit-speed data encryption appliance and related technology. In its early days, CipherOptics received 100 percent of its revenues from Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). (Cue sound of violent explosion here.) Dallas-based Mathews is no stranger to the fine art of flesh pressing and disseminating techno info; he shares his technology insights each week on Texas Cable News, a feature dearly loved by both of that network's primetime viewers.

  • Karen Barton, VP of marketing at Appian Communications Inc., says the company has trimmed its staff to 45 people, down from a peak of about 100. Some of the remaining staff, Barton says, are only working part-time. (They spend the rest of the time with their families.) Appian's customers include NTT Communications Corp. The company has raised more than $80 million in three funding rounds.

  • Ralph Ahlgren stepped aside as VP of engineering at WaveSplitter Technologies Inc. about a month ago, the company has confirmed. Ahlgren joined WaveSplitter in June after spending less than a year at C-Speed (see C Speed Names Senior VP and WaveSplitter Appoints VP). In fact, Ahlgren's departure from WaveSplitter came right around the same time CFO Bruce Pollock and CEO Bill Diamond took off (see Shopping, Lifting, Moving On).

    Here's a summary of other industry appointments (and disappointments) from the past several days: That's all we have time for this week. If we missed anything of import, send a note to [email protected] and we'll dutifully follow up. Holiday cards are nice, too, but we find it is more fun to get someone hot under the collar than it is to reciprocate warm fuzzies.

    — Phil Harvey and Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editors, Light Reading
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    photons-r-us 12/4/2012 | 9:13:15 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness Word on the street is that Wohlford suffered the same fate as many Corvis VP's who came and left from Corvis: he was given an extremly difficult mandate but not the power to execute on it. Bascially if you differ in opinion from Dr. Dave your days are numbered.

    And adding insult to injury: Wohlford ended up reporting to someone to is still going through puberty.
    ThurstonHowell3rd 12/4/2012 | 9:13:13 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness I'm confused... wouldn't that be Dr. Dave himself???
    BB 12/4/2012 | 9:13:08 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness or is that mike bortz???
    BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:13:08 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness In many companies,specially start-ups, to prolong the employment of peoplwe at the top. These layoffs violate government rules.These guys only leave after the last cent has been spent on their cup of coffee.

    The workforce reduction is adhoc and arbitrary. It is because of this reason, the state and federal governments introduced the concept of at-will employment. To the best of my knoweledge at-will employment is not practiced in any other part of the world.
    Optech 12/4/2012 | 9:13:00 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness Does anyone know what the deal is with Coriolis? Are they in, out, or on their way??
    OSPGuy 12/4/2012 | 9:12:51 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness As Bobymax so eloquently put it:

    "To the best of my knoweledge at-will employment is not practiced in any other part of the world."

    Now I finally understand why all my friends and neighbors, collegues and co-workers, are immigrating to India, China, Europe, and Africa - to get away from the horrors of an economy characterized by "at-will employment."

    No, wait a minute, I think I have that backwards. It's the Indians, Chinese, and Africans that are flooding into the American Economy. If "at will employment" is so horrible, and no other country practices it, then how do you explain the mass immigration (legal and otherwise) into this horrible, brutal, economic system?
    jamesbond 12/4/2012 | 9:12:51 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness If "at will employment" is so horrible, and no other country practices it, then how do you explain the mass immigration (legal and otherwise) into this horrible, brutal, economic system?

    Dear friend,

    That ain't true anymore. I know a hell lot
    of indians and chinese who are actually going
    back to india/china. They came here when the
    times were good and layoffs/firing/shutdowns
    etc were not a commonplace. We are learning
    now what at-will employment really means. Before
    it was just a line in the employment letter -
    nothing more.
    opticalfuneral 12/4/2012 | 9:12:43 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness Headcount: Please confirm Alvesta's demise.
    opti dude 12/4/2012 | 9:08:12 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness I'm just wondering if there are any Optical Jobs out there to be had??? Can anyone point me in a direction? Thanks for the help!
    sunra 12/4/2012 | 9:08:11 PM
    re: Headcount: Workplace Weirdness Shirley, you must be joking.
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