Writings and observations

idaho RANDY
STAPILUS
 
Washington

Microsoft stock jumped a couple of percentage points (some of that reflected in our stock listing this week) after the formal announcement of what had been teased for some weeks: Employee cuts, massive cuts, not just the largest round of cuts in the company’s history but more than three times as large as any before. In the Puget Sound alone, 1,351 jobs will be going away, though that’s less than a tenth of the overall. More than one out of eight Microsoft employees will lose their jobs.

A lot of them, it is true, will come from Nokia, the comm device company it recent absorbed. Even so, a lot of MS jobs will be gone.

Financial analysts were quick to call it good. The Motley fool said the corporation “trims some fat.” Others said it was a sign that the company is becoming leaner, more agile, likely to move in different directions and leave behind some non-productive older ones. And on top of that, it shows the new CEO Satya Nadella is taking charge. Really. (Heck of a way to demonstrate that you’re really, truly, the big cheese.)

A number of analysts argued that the Puget Sounds could gain, by bringing so many talented people on the market, freed up to create new businesses of their own. Although: Doesn’t that seem to run counter to the fat-trimming narrative?

We’ve seen this kind of argument and reaction in any number of businesses over the years. It’s not that these arguments are totally illegitimate; Microsoft has gone steadily over the years, with few cutbacks or layoffs, and that can be a recipe for building in some deadwood over time.

But 14% of the company’s employees? At a time when the company was reporting strong profits?

Nadella surely did want to make a dramatic statement, and he succeeded in that. But cuts of that size tend to more meataxe than surgical in character, and the company is likely to lose a good deal of key talent. As for the Puget Sound, there’ll be recovery and many of the ousted employees doubtless will move on to new areas of productivity; but in the short term at least this isn’t good news for the area, and the longer term is speculative.

As, on reflection, may be Microsoft’s.

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news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Balukoff offers to match campaign donations (Boise Statesman)
Smoke in Idaho’s skies from wildfires (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune, TF Times News)
Bergdahl status report: inquiry underway (Boise Statesman)
Simpson pushes potatoes for food program (IF Post Register)
Simpson, others help keep Dubois station open (IF Post Register)
Flooding in some parts of Rexburg (IF Post Register)
Heavy work for Washington fire fighters (Lewiston Tribune)
Cut lines interrupts net, phones in Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Wheat crops looking good in this weather (Lewiston Tribune)
Heavy fires around the west (Moscow News)
WA state ballots available soon (Moscow News)
Pocatello road equipment at other cities (Pocatello Journal)

Wildfires roar on in Oregon, Northwest (KF Herald & News)
Considering partnership of SOU, Oregon Tech (KF Herald & News)
Fundraising deadline Dec 1 for civic stadium (Eugene Register Guard)
Ashland downtown kiosk will remain (Ashland Tidings)
SOU provost will retire (Ashland Tidings)
Medford still owns land under apartments (Medford Tribune)
Pendleton considers recovery center property (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Big fire near Heppner (Pendleton E Oregonian)
More Oregonians living in impoverished areas (Portland Oregonian)
ODOT manager files guilty plea on theft (Salem Statesman Journal)

Horseshoe Lake will be tested for norovirus (Bremerton Sun)
South Kitsap schools finances improving (Bremerton Sun)
Study shows foot ferry usage still large (Bremerton Sun)
Issues over Liias’ two jobs for Senate and city (Everett Herald)
Arlington code going after drugs, panhandling (Everett Herald)
US House okays banking for pot businesses (Tacoma News Tribune, Vancouver Columbian, Olympian)
Inslee polling shows weak support (Olympian)
Obama will visit Seattle next week (Seattle Times)
Seattle home prices shooting high again (Seattle Times)
House seat in District 4 draws contest (Spokane Spokesman)
Big layoffs expected at Microsoft (Tacoma News Tribune)
Mass emergency declared over WA fires (Tacoma News Tribune)
Washington jobless rate falls again (Vancouver Columbian)
Oil shipping backer Tesoro funds GOP candidates (Vancouver Columbian)
Clark College may expand into Gorge (Vancouver Columbian)

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