EMC to hire in midst of layoffs

Even with 1,100 layoffs at data storage leader EMC, the company still is boasting of its hiring plans.

Even with 1,100 layoffs at data storage leader EMC, the company still is boasting of its hiring plans.

On Tuesday, the company announced layoffs in coming weeks of 4 percent of its work force--about 1,100 employees--as part of a plan to meet an earlier revenue growth goal of 20 percent for 2001. The announcement stands in stark contrast to the company's position in February, when EMC defended job cuts as unrelated to the economic slowdown.

Back then, when EMC still was arguing it was comparatively immune to the high-tech slump, it said job cuts were part of a standard plan to improve worker performance and that the company planned to hire 7,000 workers by year's end.

Tuesday's announced cuts will keep the number of employees at the same level when the year began, the company said. But even as EMC is laying off personnel, it's trying to direct attention to areas where it's hiring.

EMC is hiring engineers and customer support staff, the Hopkinton, Mass., company said. The company also still expects to spend about US$1 billion on research and development this year and is spending money on its own computing infrastructure.

EMC makes refrigerator-sized devices for storing data and making sure it stays safe. It's enjoyed a lead over competitors such as Sun Microsystems, Compaq Computer and former ally Hewlett-Packard, companies that were hit earlier by the spending slowdown.

Job cuts are coming in several areas, EMC said, including overlapping field organizations and server products from Data General, a company EMC acquired in 1999 chiefly for its Clariion line of storage products.

In addition to the layoffs, EMC is changing some employees' jobs. Several hundred people will be moved into sales jobs that carry a quota--positions in which minimum sales targets must be met and in which sales commissions account for a large fraction of an employee's pay.

EMC also is cutting use of outside employees such as contractors and consultants, curtailing expansion into new buildings, and lowering travel expenses.

The company will take a charge of a penny per share to pay for the layoffs and personnel moves.