Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. First reported by Robert X. Cringely (a pen name) in Forbes, about 26 percent of the company’s global workforce is being shown the door. At more than 100,000 people, that makes it the largest mass layoff at any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Cringely wrote that notices have started going out, and most of the hundred-thousand-plus will likely be gone by the end of February.
IBM immediately denied Cringely’s report, indicating that a planned $600 million “workforce rebalancing” was going to involve layoffs (or what the company calls “Resource Actions”) of just thousands of people. But Cringely responded that he never said that the workforce reductions would be all called layoffs—instead, multiple tactics are being used, including pushing employees out through low ratings (more on that in a moment). And some managers are indeed admitting to employees that their job has been eliminated as part of Project Chrome, leading employees to coin a new catchphrase: “Getting Chromed.”
The news is coming in from around the world, and is affecting folks in sales, support, engineering—just about every job description. The only IBM’ers spared are those working in semiconductor manufacturing, an operation that is in the process of being acquired by Global Foundries.