IBM Says 'Not So Fast' On Report That It Will Axe Over 100,000 Employees

Although IBM appears to be on the verge of major jobs cut, details are slim.  Forbes columnist Robert Cringely reported last week that about 26 percent of IBM’s existing workforce of 431,000 employees would receive unwelcome phone calls from their managers this week. According to the report, cuts would likely be complete by the end of February as part of the reorganization project codenamed Project Chrome. 

IBM might be laying off a quarter of its workforce

But while additional stories following the initial Forbes report of over 100,000 employee layoffs have run pretty much unchecked for the past few days, IBM is offering a bit of pushback on that lofty figure. In an emailed statement, the company fired back:

IBM does not comment on rumors, even ridiculous or baseless ones.  If anyone had checked information readily available from our public earnings statements, or had simply asked us, they would know that IBM has already announced the company has just taken a $600 million charge for workforce rebalancing. This equates to several thousand people, a mere fraction of what’s been reported.   

Last year, IBM hired 45,000 people, and the company currently has about 15,000 job openings around the world for new skills in growth areas such as cloud, analytics, security, and social and mobile technologies. This is evidence that IBM continues to remix its skills to match where we see the best opportunities in the marketplace.

Even the union that represents IBM employees, Alliance@IBM, isn’t buying the original story. "Various members of the media are picking up on Robert Cringley's assertion that 100,000 IBMers will lose their jobs next week in a massive reorg at IBM. The Alliance has no information that this is true and we are urging caution on reporting this number as fact," said Alliance@IBM national coordinator Lee Conrad in an email to WRAL.

IBM has been touting its progress in enterprise cloud services, in which Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) is its chief competitor, but the revenue misses are hard to argue with. Layoffs are definitely coming, but they likely won’t be the biggest in company history; IBM fired about 60,000 employees way back in 1993.