No Opt In, No Ads
Fueling the resistance
LJ in 2009 -- The Grim Purge 
6th-Jan-2009 01:57 am - LJ in 2009 -- The Grim Purge
Skittish Eclipse
Starts out with half of the San Francisco office personnel being laid off in one week, with no advance warning and no severance, including personnel like janinedog and chasethestars, who have always been nothing but kind and courteous and helpful to us here out of nothing but their love of all things LJ. There might be more detailed posts on this subject to come, as information becomes less sensitive. In the meantime, I will collect links to public posts that I consider notable; feel free to suggest any by commenting here or through other means. (Note: Valleywag's original numbers of 20 out of 28 let go, and those citing them, are not accurate. The true numbers I hear are more like 13 let go, 17 kept in total, and 12 let go and 12 kept in SF--in total, around 20% of LJ staff according to their PR correspondents. Always be skeptical of Valleywag.)

Our condolences to everyone.

Confirmed lost:
chasethestars (Design -- Visual and Interactive Designer), janinedog (Engineering -- Software Engineer), gregorykennedy (Design -- Global Creative Director), lizlux (Design -- Web Designer), gorman (Product -- Product Manager), kazwell (Product -- Product Manager), mberardo, tiko_san (Product -- Head of Project Management), james (Engineering -- Software Engineer), wfinley (Operations -- Senior Director of Operations), sonman (Operations -- Senior Enterprise Architect), mariat_george (Operations -- Senior Enterprise Architect)
Known remaining:
tupshin (Engineering -- Director of Development), coffeechica (Customer Service -- Technical Support Manager), marta (Customer Service -- Community Relations Manager), astronewt (Customer Service -- Customer Support Representative), arie (Customer Service -- Accounts Manager), henrylyne (Engineering -- Software Engineer), urban_yogi (Product -- Director of Product Management), sunrise_bee, dwell (Operations -- Manager of Operations), nicholaskurjan (Senior Systems Administrator), mhwest (Operations -- Linux Systems Administrator), joemacf (Director of Editorial Content and Community Care), markf (Customer Service -- Abuse Manager), slikrikk (Administration -- Office Manager), sgravelle (Director of Finance and Administration), lyndaellen (Editorial -- Editorial Manager), katfaw (Administration -- Accounting Manager)


Official Commentary

Official Press Release -- "valued colleagues" are "leaving the company". Nice PR speak, there.
Twitter: "LJers! Don't worry, the news of our demise is premature.Yes, there were layoffs, but that does not affect your LJ! http://tinyurl.com/9rzk5y" Oh, classy. Salt, meet wound. This is an official Twitter account. "My" LJ won't die from this, it's true, but the layoffs certainly affect it.
chasethestars in lj_design, saying goodbye -- It's still official, dammit, and I like it better than the other two posts.
gorman in teamlj -- LJ employees making gallows humor and staff pages with X's printed out. Considered official to balance out that dreadful Twitter post.

During Wednesday's emergency maintenance outage:
LiveJournal.com is currently unavailable due to emergency maintenance. Don't worry, this has nothing to do with our recent company layoffs! It's a technical problem, not a lack-of-personnel problem.

Thank you for your patience.


The news post, 48 hours later.

Onsite Commentary

xb95 -- Rest In Peace (significant other a casualty of the layoffs; one of the heads of Dreamwidth)
idonotlikepeas -- sup, LJ, layoffs, and such (Support member, some analysis, links to backup)
azurelunatic -- Support means just that. (one perspective from the broader Support community)
synecdochic -- FYI (former employee, one of the heads of Dreamwidth)
scrottie -- LJ itself (one perspective on value of the people let go and buying companies in tech bubbles)

Offsite Commentary

ValleyWag -- The Russian Bear Slashes a Social Network (Misleading numbers silently corrected late Tuesday.)
CNet -- LiveJournal confirms layoffs, says rumored numbers exaggerated
Alley Insider: Livejournal Implodes: Staff Let Go* -- Claim to have been told lies by LJ spokespeople: "LJ laid off about a dozen employees, which is less than 20% of the entire LJ workforce. And contrary to some online gossip sites, LiveJournal employees leaving the business as a result of the restructuring are receiving comprehensive support from the company." Bold part is, so far, a lie. I hope it becomes the truth.
paidcontent.org -- LiveJournal Lays Off San Francisco Staff, Will Operate From Moscow -- "In July, Paulson told paidContent.org that LiveJournal traffic had doubled since the acquisition but the San Francisco team was being retained for proximity to Silicon Valley’s development pool. Indeed, it hired Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) product manager Berardo away to run LiveJournal’s US ops."
Comments 
6th-Jan-2009 10:04 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info...will be interested to see how this pans out and if it indicates something else is on the horizon.
6th-Jan-2009 10:08 am (UTC)
What you said about Janine & Stacey. :-(
6th-Jan-2009 11:08 am (UTC) - I know this isn't the place but...
Do you know what else these Russians do?

I always link to where I get pictures for my userpics; the Truman icon I use came from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum but every time I enter that url into the comment section of my userpics they delete it!

Who has the time to check? Or should I be asking, "Who wrote the code to delete it?"
(no subject) - byfrost - 2009-01-06 11:53 am (UTC)
Re: Dude - justgoto - 2009-01-06 12:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Dude - daffodelias - 2009-01-06 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Dude - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 05:20 pm (UTC)
Re: and... it's there. - justgoto - 2009-01-07 04:16 am (UTC)
Re: I know this isn't the place but... - pne - 2009-01-06 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Maybe it's because - justgoto - 2009-01-07 04:34 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 11:40 am (UTC)
Must be time to archive my journal again.
6th-Jan-2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
This may seem like a silly question, but I have asked it before and never had anyone give an accurate answer: How does one archive one's livejournal?

Really?

By which, I mean, how does one save all the old entries?
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 05:12 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kwanboa - 2009-01-06 05:39 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 06:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - djmermaid - 2009-01-06 07:31 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 07:38 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - sloot - 2009-01-06 08:25 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 08:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - labelleizzy - 2009-01-07 02:38 am (UTC)
(no subject) - lexinatrix - 2009-01-06 06:59 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - acroyear70 - 2009-01-06 07:16 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - acroyear70 - 2009-01-06 07:23 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lexinatrix - 2009-01-06 10:00 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - byfaith - 2009-01-07 02:16 am (UTC)
(no subject) - acroyear70 - 2009-01-07 02:28 am (UTC)
(no subject) - byfaith - 2009-01-07 02:41 am (UTC)
(no subject) - elfwreck - 2009-01-07 04:12 am (UTC)
(no subject) - acroyear70 - 2009-01-07 04:18 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - teithiwr - 2009-01-08 10:06 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lexinatrix - 2009-01-07 03:51 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - acroyear70 - 2009-01-07 04:17 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lexinatrix - 2009-01-07 05:12 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - doctroid - 2009-01-06 07:28 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ironed_orchid - 2009-01-06 10:09 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - urban_yogi - 2009-01-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - m03m - 2009-01-07 09:19 am (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 09:21 am (UTC)
(no subject) - m03m - 2009-01-07 09:28 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 12:04 pm (UTC)
Crap
6th-Jan-2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
I generally try to avoid panicking until there's more information available, but... this really doesn't look good.
6th-Jan-2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
rahaeli says:
The numbers are wrong; it was 13 laid off and 17 still on staff. But yeah, no severance package. Stay classy, SUP. Stay classy.
http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/1597757.html?thread=9665597#t9665597
http://synecdochic.livejournal.com/302379.html
The analysis in the VW article looks about right though, if he spent that much on it it was too much.

Edited as I type:
http://azurelunatic.livejournal.com/6225487.html

Gotta go out, I'll start really thinking later on.

janinedog and chasethestars (and anyone else on staff that read this)?

You've been great, really, of all the staff to lose, you guys would've been the last I picked.

Wasn't Stacey effectively running the usability project? Without that, does the site even have a mid term future?
6th-Jan-2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, she got that number from the same source I did in an IRC channel, I think.

I don't know much about the usability or anything. All I know is that LJ has just axed some very knowledgeable and passionate employees without any sort of transition period. That's hard to buy back.

No clue on how this may affect the place. At the very least, I am imagining it crippling morale in the US office. The remaining employees may be shoring up their resumes to shop elsewhere to attempt to find other employment, before they too are cut without any warning. Every Support member will make a personal decision on how this affects them, since there are considerations of community and ties with friends, but it is likely that some may decide volunteering their time to a company that does this to people they personally know isn't as big a priority as it used to be.

Site development will be more and more driven to the needs of the Russian market, and less towards the needs of US users. Good for the Russians, I suppose, but not so good for you and I.

Edited at 2009-01-06 07:12 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2009-01-06 11:10 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 12:01 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
A great many companies in SF are feeling the economic crunch; there's a lot of layoffs, and a lot of switching to less hours.

Which, umm. Might account for 3-4 layoffs in a 30 person company.

This looks more like "the code seems to be mostly stable, and our volunteers are handling most of the Help questions that come in--we only need a skeleton staff to handle accounting, manage ad clients, and manage server issues as they happen."

I suppose it's possible that they're not rolling in the advertising dollars that they expected would kick in, now that they've plastered the ads on Basic accounts. Surprise, surprise. And the perm account sale must not have been the financial windfall they were hoping for. And perm sales might be down, 'cos the differences between Plus and Perm aren't enticing enough for a lot of people--especially those they've pissed off in the past, who are not only no longer buying, they're no longer convincing their friends to buy.
6th-Jan-2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Perhaps if they made perm accounts slightly more affordable (say $100), they might have gotten a better response.
(no subject) - handgun - 2009-01-06 06:01 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - alryssa - 2009-01-06 06:23 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lady_astrocat - 2009-01-06 06:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - mprice - 2009-01-06 07:29 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ubiquitous_a - 2009-01-06 07:48 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ashfae - 2009-01-06 08:22 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kmarkhoover - 2009-01-06 06:31 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - abunchofcrap - 2009-01-07 02:56 am (UTC)
(no subject) - soph - 2009-01-06 07:45 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lied_ohne_worte - 2009-01-06 09:07 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - elfwreck - 2009-01-07 04:27 am (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 04:33 am (UTC)
(no subject) - pne - 2009-01-07 08:32 am (UTC)
(no subject) - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 01:16 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Shit, shit, shit!!
6th-Jan-2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
I want to know why we, the paying customers, are learning from third parties about major cuts that can dramatically affect the service we get.
6th-Jan-2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
I'm a lurker, here, but -- does any consumer normally get prior notice about layoffs from companies whose products they use?
(no subject) - adameros - 2009-01-06 05:37 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - aaangyl - 2009-01-06 05:48 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - adameros - 2009-01-06 06:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - aballard23 - 2009-01-06 06:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 05:28 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - adameros - 2009-01-06 05:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - bwinter - 2009-01-06 06:19 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 06:28 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ciaan - 2009-01-06 06:50 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2009-01-06 07:00 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 07:06 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kensan_oni - 2009-01-06 07:04 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 06:53 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
I'm now SOOOO glad I just renewed my paid account like two days ago..... O_o
9th-Jan-2009 05:02 am (UTC)
I did the same and share your pain!
(no subject) - chasyaldora - 2009-01-09 09:51 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
I hear Twitter is hiring!
6th-Jan-2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
...except that your resume can't exceed 160 characters.
(no subject) - shaebay - 2009-01-06 05:57 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - av8rmike - 2009-01-06 06:02 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - venusflesh - 2009-01-06 07:23 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - tidesong - 2009-01-06 07:28 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kashiichan - 2009-01-06 08:11 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - tidesong - 2009-01-06 09:39 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - towards - 2009-01-10 11:15 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, look, an "update"!
6th-Jan-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of amused that the livejournalinc.com link that the tinyurl link points to hasn't been updated since Dec 19th...
(no subject) - pne - 2009-01-06 06:26 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 06:27 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - lied_ohne_worte - 2009-01-06 09:07 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - elanorofcastile - 2009-01-06 09:13 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
I've talked to so many of these people over time. Even if LJ stays up, this still makes me sad and kind of sick.
6th-Jan-2009 06:36 pm (UTC)
I know. They're good people who worked hard for a company/product they love and got turned out on their ass with no warning. It's very depressing.
(no subject) - imaria - 2009-01-06 06:38 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
Do we have all the names? CNET mentions Matthew Berardo.
6th-Jan-2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
Still around that I know of: tupshin, coffeechica

Unknown: marta
(no subject) - pne - 2009-01-06 06:37 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - imaria - 2009-01-06 06:52 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - idonotlikepeas - 2009-01-06 06:53 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 06:59 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - idonotlikepeas - 2009-01-06 07:12 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 07:21 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - idonotlikepeas - 2009-01-06 07:25 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 07:29 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 07:36 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 07:48 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - kazwell - 2009-01-06 09:24 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-07 09:54 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 06:53 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2009-01-06 07:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 07:06 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - thevelvetsun - 2009-01-06 07:35 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 07:36 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2009-01-06 07:11 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 06:46 pm (UTC) - Analysis of the Press Release
From the press release:
"LiveJournal Inc.'s headquarters, technical operations (and servers,) legal, administration, and customer service teams will remain in the United States. LiveJournal's global product development and design will now be coordinated out of its Moscow office."

This excerpt clearly states that US based LiveJournal product development operation will cease effective immediately. It also suggests that design and development responsibilities may be outsourced to a third party vendor.
6th-Jan-2009 06:49 pm (UTC) - Re: Analysis of the Press Release
They have Russian designers and developers.
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - kensan_oni - 2009-01-06 07:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 07:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - matgb - 2009-01-06 11:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - ryokoful - 2009-01-06 07:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 01:21 am (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 01:26 am (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: Analysis of the Press Release - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 01:55 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
As my mother would say, "Well, that's a putzy."

Good thing that my story postings are saved on HD and CD-RW...
6th-Jan-2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
I have to wonder if they're using twitter and not news because people can't bitch at talk back to them there.
6th-Jan-2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
I dunno, can't people tag others in Twitter and other people follow who has gotten tagged and whatnot? Hell, there wouldn't even be a convenient comment limit.
(no subject) - doingsoso - 2009-01-07 01:40 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not very familiar with Twitter, and I'd guess that the majority of LJ's userbase isn't either. Plus it involves creating a new account on a new service, which will cut the motivation down for some people.

*shrugs* Maybe I'm wrong.
6th-Jan-2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't be surprised if a noisy portion of LJ's userbase is on Twitter. I know I have bunches of friends that port in their twits to their LJ in a daily batch.
(no subject) - rhodri - 2009-01-07 10:47 am (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-07 10:52 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
The layoffs may not indicate anything significant about LJ's future. During an economic downturn, it's not unusual for IT companies (or any other type of company) to lay off employees and hire them back six months down the road.

On a personal level, it's still terrible news.
6th-Jan-2009 08:37 pm (UTC) - Re: Analysis of the Press Release
You don't find LJ a stable platform? My lord, what ever do you do with it? It couldn't be actually.... posting? Whatever your 'experience' may be with the company, you are coming off as very isolationist.

I also find your view of business for the Bay Area to be flawed, having personally observed engineers and consultants rotate companies around on a bi-yearly basis since the early 90's.

You don't keep programmers and graphic designers on payroll when you aren't creating anything. Hence, 'Development' is a transitional and unstable work enviroment. The Developers know this, and know that they can be cut loose at any time. If they are as talented as you say they are, they'll find work within a few months, if that long. Odds are, they'll be fine.

Irregardless if the company has decided they need to keep development happening in Russia, that has no real effect about their US operations,
6th-Jan-2009 09:35 pm (UTC) - Re: Analysis of the Press Release
No, I do not find the LJ codebase to be intrinsically stable, though as a service it is fairly well run. It's possible that is where our disconnect is--you consider LJ the product as only the service, but I know that keeping the service up and running and stable is not easy peaches and is accomplished by the efforts of its good staff. See: the slow bit-rot death of GJ from neglect and the way IJ's admin struggles mightily to maintain it correctly. I can say that cleaning out code and fixing bugs for Dreamwidth's fork has been fairly arduous--I have been watching that process. You can see the current crop of problems and issues on the support page in the big blue box.

I'm...not sure what the isolationist thing is all about.

I don't have much of a view of business for the Bay Area in general, only for the companies in charge of LJ, having stalked them for a couple years now. I'm sure what you say about things in general is true. But at least some of LJ employees in question have been there for years and were given no indication they were going to be "rotated", as it were, even when they asked not too long ago. There were plenty of projects they were doing and involved in, as changelog and lj_releases show. There have been features previously planned for implementation that have not been implemented yet, such as search. They have intimate knowledge of a very crufty and complicated system. They were certainly not contractors. I don't think the remaining employees would be so crushed had they considered their coworkers to be contractors.

I'm not sure if contractors could be relied on for updating features--it would be difficult to tell a contractor, "here, add a comment editing feature" and expect it to be done quickly or the site to run well. LJ is a complex system and has unusual quirks and dependencies. A contractor could probably get the job done, but wouldn't be around to maintain any troubles resulting.

Now, you may be one of the people that doesn't care about new features and doesn't see the need for them, and that's okay. But that's not the opinion of the parent company, so I don't think that's the route they are taking, considering what they are working with. I'm more of the opinion that Russian developers are cheaper, and that they're more focused on accommodating the Russian market anyway. The company's development has been happening and will continue to happen in Russia, which is the design of this company restructure as per their press release. It will have long term effects on US operations, though what exactly they will be is only speculation.

Edited at 2009-01-06 10:22 pm (UTC)
pet peeve - lacetrails - 2009-01-08 02:20 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
What?! Only three people in the Ops team now?!
6th-Jan-2009 10:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, pshhh. These days, the servers run themselves now.
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2009-01-06 11:00 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - thedeli - 2009-01-06 11:20 pm (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
am sorry taht happenend
but what does that mean for lj
is lj no more
6th-Jan-2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
No, LJ will still be around. But it's still very sad.
(no subject) - snchick12 - 2009-01-07 12:03 am (UTC)
(no subject) - tonbo_no_arashi - 2009-01-08 04:25 am (UTC)
6th-Jan-2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
Isn't it kind of redundant for LJ to have a Twitter?
6th-Jan-2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Maybe. Not sure why they have one, but it has been confirmed to me that they do and that right there is it.
(no subject) - matgb - 2009-01-06 11:40 pm (UTC)
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