AOL (NYSE: AOL) is announcing a “limited number” layoffs today, as not enough staffers applied for the voluntary buyouts the company said it needed last November. At the time, AOL called for up to 2,500 volunteers — roughly a third of its global workforce to accept a buyout. Only 1,100 staffers volunteered for the buyout packages. Staffers will be told that their jobs are being eliminated starting today through Wednesday, when most of the notifications will be handed out.
The first cuts are coming in Europe and will finish up in the U.S. When it first offered the buyouts in November, AOL said it would take ultimately take a $200 million charge on costs associated with the workforce reductions. Although the difference between the amount of employees who took the buyouts and the 2,500 target AOL management was aiming for is 1,400, there was no word yet on whether this week’s layoffs will reach that high. An AOL source did tell paidContent that at least 1,000 staffers are being let go and the company expects that staffing levels will be further reduced through attrition.
AOL execs have been quickly denying reports out of Europe that AOL is completely walking away from certain countries. Our AOL source insisted that Germany will continue to be pivotal and will remain the home of AdTech and Winapp. However, some AOL offices in a number of otherwise unspecified European locations will be shuttered entirely. (For those readers who speak German, here’s a Der Spiegel item on the layoffs in that country).
Staffers could choose the “voluntary” layoff program from Dec. 4 through Dec. 11. At the time AOL asked staffers to take a buyout, CEO and chairman Tim Armstrong noted that he was not taking his 2009 bonus, which was guaranteed to be at least $1.5 million and as high as $4 million. Other execs were not required to give up their ’09 bonuses, however.
Now that these layoffs are in the process of happening, AOL will now take a closer look at what businesses it should shed or rebuild. The entire process of cost cutting and determining what to do with the uncertain business operations is known as Project Everest. The ill-conceived purchase of Bebo is the most expected item to be sold off, while the messaging service ICQ and MapQuest have also been under consideration. The latter two may be safer these days, as Armstrong has been mentioning the importance of promoting greater integration among its communications and local services with mobile. While the company has a lot of assets in those areas to choose from, the company may give those other businesses more time to be worked into its system.
The full memo that AOL released this morning is below: