06.29.20

The Rumours of North Carolina Layoffs and the Atmosphere at IBM/Red Hat Under New Management

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

North Carolina

Summary: IBM would send the wrong message if it laid off even a single Red Hat employee; we shall be watching closely how IBM changes (if at all) its patent policy and what kind of staff it is planning to let go (maybe the in-house lawyers, which would be a sign of progress)

THIS post is supposed to inform, not to upset. It is not a simple subject and it isn’t easy to bring it up without potentially upsetting Red Hat employees. But it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to research and openly discuss this, so here we go.

As every Red Hat employee is aware at this moment (and has been aware for months or at least weeks), IBM plans to lay off workers. There’s no escaping the office gossip or denying that fact because IBM isn’t refuting any of the many reports about it. Just to be clear, this problem isn’t unique to IBM. Microsoft announced layoffs at least three times over the past month alone. What we won’t do is speculate. We want to know the effect, if any, on Red Hat as a business unit of IBM. Cuts would not be beneficial to GNU/Linux, unless one loathes certain technologies or activities of Red Hat (like patenting).

“As every Red Hat employee is aware at this moment (and has been aware for months or at least weeks), IBM plans to lay off workers.”It should be obvious that IBM does not need two HR departments, two marketing departments, two legal departments and so on. There’s overlap and commonality; fusion may still mean redundancies.

As per Triangle Business Journal, North Carolina (NC) is among the places where layoffs will happen (“IBM (NYSE: IBM) cutting ‘thousands’ of workers across US, including North Carolina”). Red Hat was founded there and its headquarters are there. But not only Red Hat. See articles like “IBM is cutting ‘thousands’ of jobs across the US amid COVID-19 pandemic” which say about “IBM’s presence in North Carolina” that “IBM employs more than 1,000 people at its RTP office, making it one of the largest and most important tech employers in the Triangle.”

“There’s a dismissive reference there to Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat’s CEO who became president at IBM.”So layoffs in North Carolina might have no impact on Red Hat employees. Another article in the same site (“IBM to lay off more than 1,000 employees, report says”) is consistent with this. “IBM employs thousands of people across North Carolina,” says the local press (“IBM cuts ‘thousands’ of jobs across the US, NC included”) and topics regarding layoffs at Red Hat contain no information of relevance. One person wrote anonymously: “Congratulations CEE VP’s & Directors. You’ve finally acheived [sic] your goal of top down management & ruling with fear. No more questions & input from those annoying OG RHatters. IBM assimilation will be complete with the virus layoffs that are sure to follow…”

There’s a dismissive reference there to Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat’s CEO who became president at IBM. It formally happened a couple of months ago. “You have management that shields their eyes and refuses to acknowledge that anything is different,” said a comment. “Then you have the kool aid kiddies of memo-list who will simply acquiesce with self denial.”

“If Whitehurst and the new CEO are serious about GNU/Linux, not a single Red Hat person would get the sack.”There’s a complaint about the management style. Alexandre Oliva left last year, citing issues associated with non-free software the workers were expected to use (some old reports say that IBM is imposing Slack on all staff).

In short, we lack evidence that Red Hat employees are on the ‘chopping block’; the NC-based workers whose job is at risk might be in no way associated with Red Hat. Having said that, if you are a Red Hat employee and have heard rumours or have seen something concrete about impending layoffs at Red Hat, please contact us privately. By airing concerns associated with that perhaps we can change IBM’s plan, fearing backlash before or after such a move. If Whitehurst and the new CEO are serious about GNU/Linux, not a single Red Hat person would get the sack. Red Hat is profitable; no reason for anyone to lose the job.

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