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No. of Recommendations: 317

OK, things are getting back to normal.--NOT!

It's been 24 hours since you laid off 115 people. The media have been told. The affected have been told. The web has been told. Not quite an exaggeration to say the world has been told.

How about a official or explanatory statement to the community--just the community--the community you claim to vaunt above all else?

There is so much processing to do for all parties that anything that even breathes the word "layoff" on the boards gets wildly recced. Without explanation or some kind of statement, these posts are like so many empty hatracks on which to hang weary Foolscaps. I think the community wants some expression of compassion and concern, or at least an economic explanation, from the people doing the hacking. I know your budget is tight, but your common sense shouldn't be.

This is the Internet, where things are wide open, maverick, etc. It ain't supposed to be Pravda.

Say something, dammit.

jeanpaulsartre
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No. of Recommendations: 16
Say something, dammit.

DavidG's been on the boards...but talking about lay-ups, not lay-offs:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14308104

Almost shocking, actually.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 3
They'll get to this as quickly as they got to the disclosure.

An announcement is on the wish list.
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No. of Recommendations: 75
I wrote something similar to jps in an email as I am about to write here, before coming here to read this post. So, I'll repeat some of the same things.

I am torn on this issue. I fully agree that it would be good to hear words from those high up in the organization. It helps to bring closure, and it helps everyone to feel like there is some humanity at the top.

However, silence does not in turn imply inhumanity. Based on my own startup experiences, as well as having family members in executive positions, I suspect that TMF probably hired an outside firm to assist them with the layoffs. Like most startups, TMF has never had to do this before, and likely sought help in order to do it "right."

These firms write the game plan, and the company is expected to follow it to the letter. Layoffs to be done on Thursday, as is most common in the industry. These employees to report to this conference room, to be spoken to by these managers. The executives' words are scripted and read verbatim from the card. During the meeting, all employee passwords are disabled (never know who shared with whom, so everyone is cut off, and only some are reactivated). Security cards are cut off. If tactful, the non-laid-off employees are sent home, to let those who were laid off pack their desks in quiet dignity.

One of the more common parts of the game plan is that no executives are allowed to say anything that is not preprinted on their cards. I've been told that something as simple as "I'm sorry" can be used as grounds in a lawsuit against a company. In addition, emotions are at a volatile point, and even a simple "I'm sorry" can provoke heated exchanges. So, those left to administer the layoffs must sit in a stony silence, unable to express the humanity they certainly feel.

It absolutely sucks, both as the layoff-ee and the layoff-er, but the outplacement consultants are usually quite strict about this. So, I can understand rationally why nothing has been said, even if I want emotionally to hear it.

However, I agree with the sentiment here. It would have been nice to have that outplacement service draft even a short note to be placed on the home page. In a community built for the Foolish, by the Foolish, everyone shares the anguish, and wants to know if the executioner has humanity.

Here's hoping that the silence ends soon,
--WP
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No. of Recommendations: 2
I hope jps' post gets 1,000 recs. C'mon people, get the word out.

~Mark
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No. of Recommendations: 9
jps made an honest plea, and albaby said:
DavidG's been on the boards...but talking about lay-ups, not lay-offs:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14308104

Almost shocking, actually.


Well, there you go. Five years ago I excused everything, absolutely everything, because the folks running the place were pretty green. I don't use that one anymore, I've come to realize that the hardcore "community" on the TMF boards matter little to those at the top. Perhaps they are right, there are plenty of places around the boards where the layoffs, which were huge, were not noticed.

For the last year and certainly from now on, it's a numbers game, and I can only hope TMF knows their business well enough to be focusing on what is important to the bottom line. What is odd is the amount of money TMF spends on the boards if they are not really important. This layoff brought significant cuts to the tech section of TMF. I guess we'll know priorities soon enough if board performance drops off.

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 6
WP said:
However, I agree with the sentiment here. It would have been nice to have that outplacement service draft even a short note to be placed on the home page. In a community built for the Foolish, by the Foolish, everyone shares the anguish, and wants to know if the executioner has humanity.

Nice recap, WP. But in a new medium, there are new rules. I don't believe there are correct words to say to those getting laid off, even if scripted, but nothing suitable to be made public. That's just a cop out.

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 20
I posted this on He/She, and I suppose it belongs here, too.

++++++++++

FWIW, I'm told that a TMF statement to the Community in regard to the layoffs is being prepared. I don't know when it will be ready, and under the circumstances, I'm not sure it can do much to soothe the hurt of those who have the most difficult part to play in this episode. I'm sympathetic to the idea of keeping what is essentially a private matter private -- this moment is difficult enough for some of us, and especially for those who are leaving, without the glare of the spotlight adding to the pain. Still, I think that the demand for a statement from our readers is in some way a tribute to how much those who are leaving us as TMFs have affected the lives of the people who come to these boards, and that should be acknowledged.

Cheeze
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No. of Recommendations: 7
Hi,

it´s nice to read that this kind of total silence is actually advised to layoff-ers. When Fool.de was closed, we were rather shocked about that silence. At least there is some kind of closing message on the site, but that could not be avoided, I guess.

In Germany, we´re used to talking when it comes to such decisions. But it´s am American company.

If my experience is worth anything in the US, then having worked for the Fool is about the best reference you can have. So, there should be new jobs, I hope.

Jörg
(Ex TMFZahl)
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No. of Recommendations: 55
<<DavidG's been on the boards...but talking about lay-ups, not lay-offs:

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=14308104

Almost shocking, actually.>>

Okay. Perspective A:

David is a callous soul, as he's talking basketball at the end of such a day instead of pouring his heart out honestly to the community.


Permit me to offer another view. Perspective B:

David (and Tom) have spent the last few days/weeks/whatever in difficult discussions, making some difficult choices. They've never had to have layoffs before. They love their company, its mission, and its employees. They've known for a while that they'd have to let some of their good friends go -- as well as scores of others whom they like and admire a lot. Yesterday was the day when what they knew would be made public. They had to face a big room full of people they love and tell them goodbye. It was very emotional and difficult. For them and everyone else. It was possibly one of the hardest days of their lives. Then they had to speak to the remaining employees in another meeting. And there were other meetings and talks, as well. This was not David's (or Tom's) easiest day. At *midnight*, perhaps David wanted to unwind. Perhaps he went to a small discussion board and read a little, to unwind. Perhaps he was moved to chime in. Perhaps then he went to sleep, knowing that tomorrow he'd have more work to do.

These are just two of presumably many possibilities. I invite you to at least consider possibility B.

I know the community is hurting. We're hurting, too.

Selena
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No. of Recommendations: 2
WP-

You're giving them way too much credit. There was no firm hired to assist with the layoffs. I heard that they hired an intern who had taken some organizational development classes at the end of the summer who steered most of this undertaking. Do you think if they had hired a firm to handle this that most people would have read about this in the Washington Post before going into the office yesterday?

B.
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No. of Recommendations: 9
I heard it had nothing to do with the business model, TomDave just didn't want to wait for their turn at Foosball.
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No. of Recommendations: 13
This was not David's (or Tom's) easiest day. At *midnight*, perhaps David wanted to unwind. Perhaps he went to a small discussion board and read a little, to unwind. Perhaps he was moved to chime in. Perhaps then he went to sleep, knowing that tomorrow he'd have more work to do.

These are just two of presumably many possibilities. I invite you to at least consider possibility B.

I know the community is hurting. We're hurting, too.


God, it must be hard to defend your boss's actions in this situation.

It is precisely because this is nobody's easiest day that some leadership should be shown here.

Regardless of how much Nero needed his fiddle in order to relax, doing so while Rome was afire was not optimal timing.

The message board users--most of whom see the moves as scattershot, most of whom have lost friends to this attrition, and, indeed, from whence former Fools arose--deserve something better than a consultant's code of silence. So, probably, do the 115, most of whom understood, perchance better than the remaining 200, that the boards were the lifeblood of the Fool.

"Something is being prepared." That reminds me what they always tell me as a Sunday School teacher--when you speak from your heart, you cut your preparation time in two.

jeanpaulsartre

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No. of Recommendations: 14
These are just two of presumably many possibilities. I invite you to at least consider possibility B.

Selena,

I am absolutely convinced that possibility B (or some variant thereof) is what actually happened. In fact, I would assume that yesterday was one of the most difficult days that the Gardners have faced in their lives. The emotional drain on all concerned must have been overwhelming. No one would begrudge them what comforts they might find in the small hours of a dismal day.

And yet, it's still shocking.

No, that's not because posting on a little-used message board shows David is callous. Not even slightly. It's just a failure of foresight, a lack of understanding of what the Community reaction might be.

The closure of Fool.de highlighted that problem - TMF didn't really have anything prepared for the flood of bilingual Germans spilling their disappointment onto the U.S. boards, so we were all talking about how much less fully the sky was hanging the violin for a few hours.

Same thing here. No one is suggesting that the Community should have been brought into the loop before the affected parties in TMF (in other words, everyone in TMF). But it's quite surprising that a statement, however brief, wasn't prepared in advance. It's equally surprising that more than 24 hours later there still isn't a statement.

Posting on the boards runs in the same vein. No doubt David needed (and was entitled to) an outlet - but why this one? I'll grant that he has every right to participate in this community, but it is extraordinarily surprising that he would choose to do so. It's not wrong - and it's not callous. It's just very surprising. And it doesn't show much understanding of the nature of the Community.

This is where many of the ex-TMF'ers were likely to come to share their pain (just look at the Best Of board). This is not the place you would have expected any of the upper-level management to have appeared until the nerves were a little less raw, any more than you would expect the head of a Brick & Mortar company to show up at his/her employee's usual bar the day after a terrible round of layoffs. Again, there's no suggestion that it's callous: it just reflects a surprising lack of perception about the way it would be received.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 3
1) it doesn't really matter;
2) true, 'they' owe us nothing........

FWIW, I'm told that a TMF statement to the Community in regard to the layoffs is being prepared. I don't know when it will be ready, and under the circumstances,

in general... were management either competent or concerned... a "message" would have been prepared as part of all the other preparations... You don't just wake up one morning, decide to layoff a huge chunk of staff... pick the names at a lunch meeting and let the folks know who's which just before closing.

part of the planning has to be what to say to customers, vendors & survivors (as well as the departing)

more specifically... didn't they learn from the demise of .DE that "users" care?

Still, I think that the demand for a statement from our readers is in some way a tribute to how much those who are leaving us as TMFs have affected the lives of the people who come to these boards, and that should be acknowledged.

yup. and lack of one shows 'they' still don't really understand that... or don't care.



-jp
not surprised, but
.... glad the Cheeze guy survived round #1
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No. of Recommendations: 41
deserve something better than a consultant's code of silence

Gang,

It's odd how conjecture becomes reality. I suppose if you say something often enough, it becomes real to you, even if it's wrong.

<<Regardless of how much Nero needed his fiddle in order to relax, doing so while Rome was afire was not optimal timing.>>

Joseph, whatever. You weren't here, you don't know what you're talking about, and I can assure you that David is neither insensitive nor callous. So, for once, just pipe down and be quiet. Save your sabre rattling for a day when people feel like picking up their shield and jousting with you, 'cause right now you're just kicking people when they're down.

Boo hoo, blah, blah, blah, and all that. Have a good weekend.

David
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No. of Recommendations: 8
Joseph, whatever. You weren't here, you don't know what you're talking about, and I can assure you that David is neither insensitive nor callous. So, for once, just pipe down and be quiet. Save your sabre rattling for a day when people feel like picking up their shield and jousting with you, 'cause right now you're just kicking people when they're down.

Boo hoo, blah, blah, blah, and all that. Have a good weekend.


Well, at least the silence was broken.
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No. of Recommendations: 45
Hi everyone,

First off, as more of a lurker than a poster, I just wanted to says thanks for all you kind thoughts about us former Fools. It's really been amazing the outpouring of support that we've received both on this board and others.

However, Bogey's thoughts on this have merit, even if the message delivery was a bit different approach than I would have taken. I'll try a little alternative angle on yesterday's events particularly from the perspective of one of those let go.

Perhaps most importantly, someone posted in this thread that it is at least as hard on those who remain. I would go one further and say that it is most likely harder. I've received many encouraging e-mails from my friends still there, and though the outpouring of support for the departed is touching, the theme of immense sadness there is more than evident. I mean imagine how it looks to them that one out of every three desks is empty. If you believe that the dead go on to a better place (in most cases), and the living are left to bear the grief, I think that you have an appropriate analogy. Having said that, no one is having greater difficulty dealing with this than Tom and Dave.

I know that many of you disagree with some of their message and investing style. And you all throughout the past year have had some valid points and some not. But let's put that aside for a second and realize that the hurt there and in effect throughout the company is strong.

I think that there were probably two or three options TMF could have gone with as far as an official response to the community: 1) have someone who was not part of TMF prepare something (you know that would have been about as heartfelt as an enema), 2) have Tom or Dave or both immediately write something that would probably demonstrate the extent of the sadness but for the most part be incomprehensible, or 3) allow them to take some time and prepare something that was both heartfelt and intelligent because I think you all would demand both (not one or the other).

So if we, the exers, who with only a few exceptions, as far as I can tell, are doing OK, can wait a few days for this official recognition, then I'd hope that y'all wouldn't mind doing the same.

But on a brighter note, I look forward to following your banter, to put it mildly, on the boards, and without a TMF in front of my name (I've teamed up with Vince McMahon on this one), I might even be more tempted to jump into the fray. Thanks again though for all your thoughts and prayers. Best!

Kinsey
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No. of Recommendations: 9
part of the planning has to be what to say to customers, vendors & survivors (as well as the departing)

and
yup. and lack of one shows 'they' still don't really understand that... or don't care.


I am really at a loss as to why there was not a prepared statement on the Fool this morning. One of the things that has made this site so popular and filled with dedicated, loyal fans, is the fact that the Fool Employees on these boards made us all feel as if we were really part of a community and valued as more than just customers. A great number of the employees remaining, and those now gone were hired right off of these boards. We are all interwoven here. If Dave, Tom and Pat do not understand this, then they are in for a sad future and are building a wall between community and company like so many other less successful ventures.

I spend dozens of hours a week here. I like it and the people I find on the boards. I feel as if I belong and am part of the whole scheme. I also spend time on Yahoo.. However, I have no real since of belonging there as I do here. It would be a great loss to me personally to find that the loyalty I feel about The Fool is not reciprocated at all.

eeegad!
...naive enough to wish away reality

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No. of Recommendations: 9

Boo hoo, blah, blah, blah, and all that. Have a good weekend.
>>>>>>>
Well, at least the silence was broken.


and it captures so well the spirit of Community here.



-jp
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No. of Recommendations: 31
I think that there were probably two or three options TMF could have gone with as far as an official response to the community: 1) have someone who was not part of TMF prepare something (you know that would have been about as heartfelt as an enema), 2) have Tom or Dave or both immediately write something that would probably demonstrate the extent of the sadness but for the most part be incomprehensible, or 3) allow them to take some time and prepare something that was both heartfelt and intelligent because I think you all would demand both (not one or the other).

It seems that there is an intense desire for option #2.

After reading Bogey's post, I think that what we have here is a failure to understand each other. The deep, heartfelt yearning for some form of official communication from TMF stems from the affection that many of us hold for the site. Sure, there are some truly bitter people around here - but dollars to donuts they're not the ones that are recommending jps' post.

Because TMF hasn't reached out to the community, we're reaching towards TMF in all the ways at our disposal. One of those ways is by writing posts begging for information, and recommending them into the stratosphere. We want that communication because we like/value/enjoy/love TMF - and we're scared it might go away.

It's a Friday, and as usual the MI Board folks are sending half a dozen posts up the "Best Of" board. Unlike any other Friday, though, these are the posts setting forth their emergency plans for the Day the Lights Go Out. People are scared - and they're scared only because they love what you've built.

These posts aren't attacks, and they're not criticisms. Don't you get it? The only reason everyone is so desperate to find out what's going on is because we cherish what TMF has built so d*mned much! Answer or don't answer - but don't fault the community you have gathered for caring so much about this place.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 4
Joseph, whatever. You weren't here...

Jeez, I didn't know it was Vietnam...

...you don't know what you're talking about...

Well, good to see us back on track again.

...and I can assure you that David is neither insensitive nor callous. So, for once, just pipe down and be quiet. Save your sabre rattling for a day when people feel like picking up their shield and jousting with you, 'cause right now you're just kicking people when they're down.

Hey, we all have our ways of dealing with layoffs. Here's a good one:

http://www.theonion.com/onion3205/navyseal.html

jps
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No. of Recommendations: 6
It's a Friday, and as usual the MI Board folks are sending half a dozen posts up the "Best Of" board. Unlike any other Friday, though, these are the posts setting forth their emergency plans for the Day the Lights Go Out. People are scared - and they're scared only because they love what you've built.

These posts aren't attacks, and they're not criticisms. Don't you get it? The only reason everyone is so desperate to find out what's going on is because we cherish what TMF has built so d*mned much! Answer or don't answer - but don't fault the community you have gathered for caring so much about this place.


Thanks albaby. It should be heartening that we want to know what's going on. What do y'all think it means that each of the mini-communities that has developed on these boards is busy right now making contingency plans? What lessons have been learned from the layoffs and the fool.de shutdown?

The message I get is that we should not expect any warning before the plug is pulled here. Do you really think that expressing these worries is "saber-rattling"?

My God, Fool HQ seems to be even more out of touch with the Community than I had feared...

TTFN,
Boffo
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No. of Recommendations: 4
However, Bogey's thoughts on this have merit, even if the message delivery was a bit different approach than I would have taken.

You would have used that snappy red font that informed us some of the profiles are inactive?

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Hey, we all have our ways of dealing with layoffs. Here's a good one:

http://www.theonion.com/onion3205/navyseal.html


Cusper's always got a right answer, and someday he'll even have the right answer for the question asked.

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 5
How about a official or explanatory statement to the community

Hi everyone,

Click on the following link to view the letter to the community:
http://www.fool.com/Press/2001/letter010209.htm

Fool on,
TMFEh
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Click on the following link to view the letter to the community:
http://www.fool.com/Press/2001/letter010209.htm


Thanks.

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 6
TMFSelena,

>>They've known for awhile that they'd have to let some of their good friends go..."

Yet they couldn't find time to prepare even a brief statement in advance to explain the reasons for the lay-offs to the Fools here? Just too busy?

To my way of thinking, the Motley Fool isn't David or Tom. The Motley Fool is the people that roamed the boards while always being helpful, informed and well, just plain Foolish. The technicians that kept the site humming. The support staff that were a pleasure to deal with. The 115 people that were laid off.

I'm sure the lay-offs were tough for David and Tom. Even tougher for those laid off.

A little PUBLIC expression by David and Tom of their appreciation of the great work that the laid-off Fools have done would have gone a long way.

I think a little less of the brothers today. I appreciate alot more the work the departing Fools have done in the past and the work the remaining Fools will do in the future. I guess at least now we know what a recession really means.

Mike.
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No. of Recommendations: 6
When you stake a significant portion of your company's business model on getting a "yes" from the advertising department over at First Federal, and First Federal decides to halve its ad spend in anticipation of a recession, it hurts your business.

This is a fear. A big short term fear. I don't know what can be done about this immediately. Well, I do, but it's ugly.

It's not First Federal's fault, generally. It's their ad agency. Big ad agencies have no interest in selling web ads or in inflating web prices. They don't make enough on the creative to make it worth their while.

An ad agency makes a zillion dollars off the creative when it produces a TV commercial. When it produces a banner it often makes less than $500. Banners are easy to make. Too easy. Insidiously, ad agencies even routinely publish research indicating that banners don't matter, so that when their clients start asking about them, they dispel the direction.

Because there's no big creative markup, big ad agencies simply aren't interested to sell web advertising to their clients. Of the forty biggest in America, not one does a total web volume of over 4% of their billings, and between 1-2% is more typical.

To me, web banners are the cheapestfastestbest way to build image. But the agencies don't want that to get out, and the businesses don't have enough resources to do their own traffic and media buys.

Here's the ugly part: web companies at this point are obliged to snuggle up to big ad agencies--in short, buy campaigns--to get placement. But because ad agencies are such dependable sluts for money, an agency which is greased a little bit will go a long way to advance the cause of the client.

jeanpaulsartre
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No. of Recommendations: 11
How about a official or explanatory statement to the community

Hi everyone,

Click on the following link to view the letter to the community:
http://www.fool.com/Press/2001/letter010209.htm

Fool on,
TMFEh


I'm sorry, but I find this statement a day late and a dollar short.

In essense Tom and Dave say (my interpretation):
The economy got rough.
Add revenue diminished.
Tough decisions had to be made.
S**t happens.


I might offer some alternatives:
We grew too fast.
We anticipated future events poorly.
We got cocky.
We screwed up.
Decent people suffered as a result of our mistakes.
We're sorry.


At a minimum, the bland statement they released could have been prepared in advance and posted as soon as the story broke in the national press.

IMO the Gardner's have dug themselves a pretty big hole to crawl out of.

Aiko
A loyal Fool since the early AOL days



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No. of Recommendations: 2
Aiko said:
IMO the Gardner's have dug themselves a pretty big hole to crawl out of.

I'm not sure what you want. Do you really expect management to say, "We needed people to grow, but fewer to maintain." That's just the business, it goes without saying really.

Rick
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No. of Recommendations: 0
I'm not sure what you want. Do you really expect management to say, "We needed people to grow, but fewer to maintain." That's just the business, it goes without saying really.

Rick


It is a credibility hole:

Lay people off.
Let the story break.
Say nothing.
Put a statement in red letters above the affected Fool's profile that screams they have been canned.

Aiko
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No. of Recommendations: 0
I liked the Spender quote. I liked Spender, actually.

jps
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No. of Recommendations: 13
Thanks everyone for your -- hell, I don't know, thanks for caring. Seriously.

I'd like for you to know that the requests for information were taken for what they were - concerns for the Fool and those who you have come to know here. We know that you care, we know that it is heartfelt. I for one appreciate it. Unfortunately there is no good road map for what the Fool management has had to do. There are legal boundaries that suck the life out of what is already a demeaning process, and there are landmines, everywhere. SOMETHING is going to come up short, and someone is going to feel slighted. I am truly sorry that it was you.

There is no way that we were going to get to the end of last night and say "well, that wasn't THAT bad." It was that bad, and watching these people walk out the door for the last time was gut wrenching. For me. for Bogey, for David, and for Tom. If there was one overall pall in the office yesterday, it was this:

guilt.

So there you have it. Tom and Dave have made a statement to the community. It probably came too late for some of you. But again, there was no roadmap. These are not things prudence allows a company to talk about in advance, and in hindsight certain things will seem obvious. I speak for no one but myself here when I say that there is very little chance that the reason this is so it out of a lack of respect for the community.

One last thing -- I keep seeing shades of this theme:

You would have used that snappy red font that informed us some of the profiles are inactive?

ALL inactive TMFs have been listed as such ever since we listed our stock holdings. It was done so as to differentiate from a Fool no longer in employ and one who just didn't feel like complying with disclosure. I'm sure that a nice cyan tone would have been better, but even fools who have been gone a long time (Puck, Nexus6, Seymour, Ralegh, Sargon) all have the same notice.

Bill Mann

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No. of Recommendations: 3
<<However, I agree with the sentiment here. It would have been nice to have that outplacement service draft even a short note to be placed on the home page. In a community built for the Foolish, by the Foolish, everyone shares the anguish, and wants to know if the executioner has humanity.>>


Just another example of how the Fool was supposed to be different and yet is exactly the same as the Wise.

Nice going boys.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
<<FWIW, I'm told that a TMF statement to the Community in regard to the layoffs is being prepared.>>

Yep, as soon as they hire a write skilled enough to turn this into lemonade.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
There doesn't seem to be any situation beyond Selena's ability to play the apologist. I would have hoped that this occasion was the one you took to count your blessings and shut up.
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No. of Recommendations: 7
I want to add my condolences to all those wonderful fools who will not be with us any more. It seems like I have lost some of my best friends. I never met them, but I knew them well.
For those who gave their hearts to the Fools at fool.com, I don't think it will ever be the same. For me, fool.com has had an ambiance which was present at no other financial site on the web. Yahoo...CBS Marketwatch....Bloomberg... Morningstar ...they all had something in common...a coldness, an attitude. The fools had an attitude, too. They were our brothers and our sisters. Yes, David and his brother have a business to run. They had to watch the bottom line...but the Gardners encouraged a family attitude. Didn't they also incur a special obligation to the TMFools at fool.com??? We saw that expression really come to life during the brouhaha over employee disclosure of stock ownership. TMF people were defending the Gardners at every turn...and the site was beginning to get hot. Let see, baruk habba, "blessed is the comer, welcome!! The hotter it got, the more the TMF crew defended management. and then, ouch. Question...when it comes down to it, were the Gardner's handling of the matter any better than Mr. Walker of Priceline.com fame?
Well, we will forget...and this site, too, may become cold. Can we trust the Gardner's again? Probably not. Too bad.. I guess it always was only a dream. Dreams,,,dreams...where are our dreams? Put away the funny hats. The name of the game is Wall Street...not the jester's court. We chase the buck around here and don't you forget it. I think we are the fools, don't you? The King is dead, long live the king.

John Ormiston
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No. of Recommendations: 6
<<So there you have it. Tom and Dave have made a statement to the community. It probably came too late for some of you. But again, there was no roadmap. These are not things prudence allows a company to talk about in advance, . . .>>


Except to the Washington Post.
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No. of Recommendations: 2
Click on the following link to view the letter to the community:

http://www.fool.com/Press/2001/letter010209.htm


Thanks, guys; that's rather a nice letter, and much appreciated, I'm sure.

Albaby
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No. of Recommendations: 4
<<At a minimum, the bland statement they released could have been prepared in advance and posted as soon as the story broke in the national press.>>

With all due respect, you're not understanding that the story broke in the press *before* we wanted it to. *Before* employees were told. I think it would have made an undesirable situation even worse for many employees to learn about the layoffs from their employer via an incredible public announcement.

Selena
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No. of Recommendations: 15
<<There doesn't seem to be any situation beyond Selena's ability to play the apologist. I would have hoped that this occasion was the one you took to count your blessings and shut up. >>

Scuba --

You know, I hope you're enjoying using the word apologist so much. Instead of maybe saying that I was trying to offer a little perspective or a little truth. And trying to offer some words from within HQ, as that's what some wanted. (Okay, perhaps only Tom or Dave were wanted by some or most of you.)

I must say... For quite a while I was one of those who listened the most to what the "cherished viewpoints" here were saying. I gave up on that a few months ago.

Still, when this bad news broke about the layoffs, I told my colleagues that I expected our critics to be kind to us for at least a little while. I explained that despite the frequent disrespect and insults, there was still humanity there. I must say -- many people surprised me. Even laying off of the criticism for more than half an hour was apparently too much. Amazing. Geez... in some of your souls there sure doesn't appear to be much humanity.

Go ahead and flame me for saying this. I'll insert a disclaimer first, though: I *was* touched by what some of you had to say. And some of you *were* compassionate enough to give us a break for at least a little while. And of course it goes without saying that yes, you've often had valid criticisms (along with way-off-base ones) all along. I've always recognized that.

Scuba -- you added:

<< So there you have it. Tom and Dave have made a statement to the community. It probably came too late for some of you. But again, there was no roadmap. These are not things prudence allows a company to talk about in advance, . . .>>

Except to the Washington Post. >>

Again, incredible. Assume the worst. This is such a ridiculous statement. Why on earth would we go to the press first before telling our employees? What would we have had to gain?

In sheeshus extremis,

Selena
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No. of Recommendations: 10
As unhappy as I am about this whole deal, after reading so many posts about it, I honestly do not believe any TMF higher-ups spilled the beans to the Post. It had to be somebody with an axe to grind. Who it is I don't think anybody knows yet, and if the Gardners find out, I hope this is one occasion when they DON'T tell us first. If you find out, take appropriate action first, THEN tell us what you can.
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No. of Recommendations: 17

Still, when this bad news broke about the layoffs, I told my colleagues that I expected our critics to be kind to us for at least a little while. I explained that despite the frequent disrespect and insults, there was still humanity there. I must say -- many people surprised me. Even laying off of the criticism for more than half an hour was apparently too much. Amazing. Geez... in some of your souls there sure doesn't appear to be much humanity.

I gave you over twenty-four hours to say something to the community, and to say something publically to the ungainly slashed; it didn't happen; sorry if the grace period didn't meet your particular needs. If any thing, the events of the past few days have demonstrated that your organization needs more criticism, far more, and not less.

Beyond that, all I can say is, this constant desire to insulate from criticism while demonstrating loyalty to "Fooldom" or whatever it is, is probably the key reason the Fool has spent and spent so much money to no good result, and explains the kind of choices it made two days ago.

Why the Fool holds on to its most ferocious loyalists, the very same people who have engineered the tolerance for minimal-revenue over many years, and lets go of its free thinkers, who happen to be the people who get along with the community best, is a mystery to me. This particular layoff, when you look at the personnel afflicted, almost completely turned the Fool into Masada, and we are still stuck with the same loyalists who tells us we're wrong all the time, even while so many still there have no history of making a profitable decision. At the Fool loyalty is vaunted above business sense, and now even above talent. It's so transparent from the way the layoffs panned out that it makes me think the whole organization's days are quite numbered.

jeanpaulsartre
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Mr. Simpleton wrote:
<< So there you have it. Tom and Dave have made a statement to the community. It probably came too late for some of you. But again, there was no roadmap. These are not things prudence allows a company to talk about in advance, . . .>>

Except to the Washington Post. >>

Selena replied:
<<Again, incredible. Assume the worst. This is such a ridiculous statement. Why on earth would we go to the press first before telling our employees? What would we have had to gain?>>

The company only said one thing to The Washington Post, and you can read that statement in the article:
"It would not be fair and honorable to our employees to comment on this matter at this time."

I became a devoted user of TMF's boards long before I was lucky enough to join the team at FoolHQ. I spent the time reading posts because I found I was learning so much from so many intelligent, generous, articulate folks.

I hope this is another opportunity for learning. Mr. Simpleton, exactly how do you know the company said anything else to The Washington Post? What else do you suggest the company should have done? We chose to honor the dignity of our colleagues by talking with them before talking to the media. Can you offer any constructive criticism of that approach?

Thanks,

Bill
TMFGonzo
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No. of Recommendations: 4
With all due respect, you're not understanding that the story broke in the press *before* we wanted it to. *Before* employees were told. I think it would have made an undesirable situation even worse for many employees to learn about the layoffs from their employer via an
incredible public announcement.


Selena


Selena, My beef is that nothing showed up for over 24 hours, which implies that little if any thought was given to a public statement beforehand. IMO TMF leadership was ill prepared for the public (community) reaction to the announced layoffs.

Aiko

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No. of Recommendations: 6
<<I hope this is another opportunity for learning. Mr. Simpleton, exactly how do you know the company said anything else to The Washington Post? What else do you suggest the company should have done? We chose to honor the dignity of our colleagues by talking with them before talking to the media. Can you offer any constructive criticism of that approach?>>

Do you suppose the Washington Post has a crystal ball or did they bother to bug Fool HQ? Someone knew and someone told. Obviously, someone in a position to know, could not keep their mouth shut. The Post didn't speculate, they knew.

I don't suppose anyone below a Gardner made any final decisions about timing. It is likely managers provided input. Now which of those loyal Fools dropped the dime? I doubt the Post got it from us.

If the victims to be, have the opportunity to read about it before the fact, in the morning paper, it is just one more example of incredibly inept management.

Don't blame me. I didn't tell them.

And you guys have the nerve to criticize the business of others.

I've said for months that TMF's only hope for long term survival is pray for AOL/TW to buy it for the content and boards. IPO? Not in this lifetime.


Which reminds me. How long ago did you stop advertising new positions?
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No. of Recommendations: 2
If the victims to be, have the opportunity to read about it before the fact, in the morning paper, it is just one more example of incredibly inept management.

Scuba,

I've got no problem with discussing things with critics, in fact, I spend more time reading and listening to this group than most any other lately. For the most part, the group is smart and has some good stuff to say, no matter how brutally they may say it. But, your statement above confirms for me that you really don't understand anything about management or running a company.

I won't sit here and tell you the Fool has made no mistakes. I don't sit here and defend that which I don't think is defensible. But, again, your statement above shows your ignorance. There are a hundred ways for stuff that you don't want to leak, to leak. You do your absolute best to contain it, but sometimes that doesn't matter.

Bogey
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No. of Recommendations: 3
I gave you over twenty-four hours to say something to the community, and to say something publically to the ungainly slashed; it didn't happen; sorry if the grace period didn't meet your particular needs

Joseph,

The only thing I can say to this is that you lack information and context. Remember, some people don't come into work on time, or work remotely and don't necessarily hear about things at the same time due to other work schedules (some people are part time.) We had lots of different schedules and timing issues to juggle. I realize that you don't know this, and that's fine.

But, in the absence of information, you should probably be cautious about your conjecture.

Bogey
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No. of Recommendations: 4
<<I won't sit here and tell you the Fool has made no mistakes. I don't sit here and defend that which I don't think is defensible. But, again, your statement above shows your ignorance. There are a hundred ways for stuff that you don't want to leak, to leak. You do your absolute best to contain it, but sometimes that doesn't matter.>>


It seems we disagree on a least two things. Let's try for three.

Arrogance and lack of foresight are the real causes of the over expansion and subsequent layoffs, not the economy. "Field of Dreams" was just a movie.

I'm curious, but doubt I'll get an answer. What came first; A promise to the VC investors that costs would be cut or the additional $30 million?
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No. of Recommendations: 9
Bogey, you keep talking about context, and as far as that goes, you are right. But what you IMO are not giving sufficient consideration, at least in your posts, is the matter of appearances. Sure, we "outsiders" don't know all the inside baseball that has gone on at TMF, and don't know all the whys and wherefores of the decisions you've had to make. But what we do know is what the whole deal LOOKS like to us outsiders on the surface, and what we also know is the questions and concerns that raises. And we know how it affects US. So while you are right to remind us that there are things we don't see that enter into this situation, the expressed or implied criticisms of us for saying what we think don't always wash real well. We still see what we see, and without knowing all the things you don't or can't tell us, all the context lectures in the world don't wash away the disappointment, concerns and questions that that appearance raises.
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No. of Recommendations: 7
I'm curious, but doubt I'll get an answer. What came first; A promise to the VC investors that costs would be cut or the additional $30 million?

I don't know about how it worked at TMF, but I have seen the same thing happen at other startups, including my own, so I'll pipe in anyway.

The answer isn't really a "chicken-or-egg" problem of which came first. They are both parts of the same event. Funding comes based on business plans. If the VCs like the plan, they fund it. If they don't, they don't, and they say why. Discussion iterates until both parties come in sync. Eventually, the VC presents a term sheet, and some or all of the business plan is involved as a condition of the term sheet. If you are lucky, you have multiple investors offering multiple term sheets, and you can pick the best terms to get your cash. The VC market is incredibly tight right now, and companies have fewer term sheets to choose from, and more and more of those term sheets involve layoffs than before (particularly for 2nd, 3rd, and later rounds).

My own startup is going through funding right now. It is bittersweet. We all know that we need the funding for the company to survive. We also all know that once the funding comes in, half of us will lose our jobs, because it is certain in our case that this will be a condition.

As a result, we are torn between knowing that that the company may survive, but we may not along with it. There is nothing unethical about the way TMF has handled this. Business is business, and sometimes you can't change that no matter how much the consequences suck.

--WP
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No. of Recommendations: 2
I don't suppose anyone below a Gardner made any final decisions about timing. It is likely managers provided input. Now which of those loyal Fools dropped the dime? I doubt the Post got it from us.

If the victims to be, have the opportunity to read about it before the fact, in the morning paper, it is just one more example of incredibly inept management.


Again, can't speak on the specifics of TMF, but my company was of a similar size to TMF (just over 300 employees) before we did layoffs last fall.

I don't doubt that the decision making regarding timing was in a small group. But once the decision is made, a larger group has to be informed. In our case, many of the VPs and department directors knew what was up at least 24 hours in advance. I believe at least 2 dozen people in my company could have been in a position to leak to the press, if they so chose. None of them did.

In TMFs case, I would imagine that it is similar. Several people at the top of the organization, probably at least anyone who heads a major department and above, would have been in a position to know. Sometimes you have to trust people in a position of responsibility to act responsible, and sometimes they don't come through. It is disappointing when that happens.

Unfortunately, the person who leaked this didn't consider the consequences of their actions. Maybe it was a manager who was being let go, and felt this would help him "get even." Maybe it was a manager who's favorite subordinate was getting canned, and she felt this would help her "get even." Who knows. It is all speculation.

But I highly doubt it was one of the Gardner brothers. It is far more likely that it was an unhappy manager, acting down to the lowest common denominator of their bitterness.

--WP
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No. of Recommendations: 1
Hi WP,

I attended the Internet World Exihibition in Berlin last year in May. They had an extra pavillion for VC-companies. Looking around gave me the feeling that there are a lot of sharks out there.

I think, the best thing a startup can find is not a VC but one or two business angels. They are business people who have expierence with bankers, employees etc. They will not only invest money but also help you deal with everyday decisions and challenges a company has, regardless of the fact that it may be a dot.com. The biggest problem seems to be, that the owners are usually young and unexpierenced with everyday management and therefore will provoke business failures which can be avoided. Moreover, they will wait until the last minute to hire someone with management competence. Consequently, without expierenced guideance in the past, the cost cuts will mostly lead to layoffs since costs for employees will effect the financial state immediately .

There is no question about it, a good business plan is needed but don't underestimate the importance of everyday management.

Rowan

I was very sorry to hear about the layoffs and I wish all the TMFs the best.

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No. of Recommendations: 3
We still see what we see, and without knowing all the things you don't or can't tell us, all the context lectures in the world don't wash away the disappointment

Rinjr715,

Absolutely. We can only do what we do and let the chips fall where they may. Some people had no problem with the timing of things, some people did. It all depends on your looking glass. We can only control the sequence of events that are within our control, it's up to everyone else to filter it through their eyes and mind and come away with a feeling about it one way or another. Some will think it's handled poorly, some will thing it was handled well. Some will try and be supportive even if they think we did the wrong thing, some will blast us to hell no matter what we do. It's a tough gig.

What I know for sure is that we spent all day Thursday, and part of Friday, telling our employees. We then turned to our community, even before the note from Tom and Dave came out in the early evening on Friday. Then, we've spent most of the weekend talking with people in the community about it, hearing their thoughts, engaging them in conversation about ways to move forward. I suspect our next steps will be to process all of the feedback and take some sort of action, at some point. Can't make promises on time frames.

As a friend likes to say "It is what it is and you have to do your own math." All of our community members have to view this the way they will view it and pass judgement on it in kind. I can only hope that people will give us the benefit of the doubt.

Best,

Bogey
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