Fate of many Yahoo-AOL employees seems bleak with imminent Verizon merger

13 Jun 2017

Outside Yahoo’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock

The fate for a number of former Yahoo employees remains deeply uncertain, with thousands of people potentially being laid off.

While the deal for Verizon to take over Yahoo’s business is expected to close today (13 June), a major shake-up of the latter’s infrastructure is already well underway.

Rebranded as Oath, the new subdivision will combine Verizon’s digital units with those of Yahoo and AOL, and will culminate in a digital powerhouse consisting of 1bn-plus consumers and more than 20 global brands.

15pc reduction in workforce

This was seen as the end of the road for former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the person originally brought in to save the struggling Silicon Valley giant.

Now, Mayer is expected to walk away from the company with a very lucrative severance package, but her chances of becoming CEO of a major company again are very slim, according to a recent survey.

For the rest of Yahoo and AOL’s former employees, new fears have emerged in recent days that as many as 2,100 staff – or 15pc of its workforce – could be laid off as part of a streamlining decision by Verizon.

Speaking with the LA Times, analyst Laura Martin said it was a business decision for Verizon based on what it saw as a shedding of the least profitable part of the business.

“Verizon has decided what parts of the businesses they will keep and which ones they will shutter,” she said. “The employees remaining will be centred in the businesses that will likely grow.”

A source familiar with the plans added that the job cuts are expected to be spread evenly across both Yahoo and AOL, with roles in product or engineering remaining largely intact.

Yahoo security chief on the way out

One noticeable job cut has been Yahoo’s chief information security officer, Bob Lord, who last week was shown the door by Verizon.

According to TechCrunch, Lord was told he would not be retaining his role at Oath and is set to be replaced by AOL’s counterpart, Chris Nims.

During his tenure, Yahoo experienced one of the largest data breaches in history, with at least 500m accounts compromised following two major hacks in 2013 and 2014 – this almost saw the Verizon takeover fall apart.

Speaking last month, Lord described the incident as one of the worst he had ever experienced, going so far as to liken it to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Vertigo.

“If you’re familiar with that effect that Alfred Hitchcock perfected, where things look like they’re sort of telescoping out. And you can still see everything but you still have this weird parallax going on. I remember feeling that when I was putting all of the different pieces together. And that’s not a great feeling.”

Outside Yahoo’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. Image: Benny Marty/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic