Intel bloodlessly dumps 12,000 employees

Image: Blendtec

Intel just announced a “restructuring.” The email to employees from CEO Brian Krzanich is very clear, but something’s missing: humanity and responsibility.

Here’s the email with the weaselly parts highlighted (and yes, there are fewer of them than in many emails of this type).


E-mail to Employees by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Subject: Today’s Announcement

Date: April 19, 2016

Since I became CEO nearly three years ago, I have been working with our leadership team and all of you to transform our company from a PC company to a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. The data center and Internet of Things businesses are now Intel’s primary growth engines, and combined with memory and FPGAs, form and fuel a virtuous cycle of growth.

Together, these businesses delivered $2.2 billion in revenue growth last year, made up 40% of our revenue, and the majority of our operating profit. Our results demonstrate a strategy that’s working and a solid foundation for growth. Our opportunity now is to accelerate our momentum and build on our strengths. But this requires some difficult decisions.

With that context, today we are announcing a restructuring initiative that will allow Intel to intensify our investments in the products and technologies that fuel our growth, and drive more profitable mobile and PC businesses.

We expect that this initiative will result in the reduction of up to 12,000 positions globally. This will be achieved by voluntary and involuntary departures, global site consolidation, and efficiency initiatives. The majority of these actions will be communicated over the next 60 days, with some spanning into 2017.

These are not changes I take lightly. We are saying goodbye to colleagues who have played an important role in Intel’s success. We are deeply committed to helping our employees through this transition and will do so with the utmost dignity and respect.

Today’s announcement is about accelerating our growth strategy. And it’s about driving long-term change to further establish Intel as the leader for the smart, connected world.

As we drive this transformation, there is an extraordinary opportunity ahead. We will emerge as a more productive company with broader reach, and sharper execution.

I know that many of you will have questions about these changes. You’ll hear more details from me, and from the rest of Intel’s leadership team, in the coming days and weeks. To get started, I encourage you to attend the Q2 BUM later today.

You’re also invited to listen to the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call with investors here. Information about these changes will also be available on Circuit Thank you for your support. I look forward to talking with you all soon.


As these announcements go, this is not dreadful. It’s mercifully short at 400 words. It is written directly with “I” and “you.” And it doesn’t beat around the bush regarding the 12,000 layoffs. But if you’re an employee on the other end of this, losing your job, all the talk about strategy means little. And if you’re one of the 89% of the employees remaining, you’re probably worried.

In this email, there are some things that bothered me:

  • Starting with “Since I became CEO nearly three years ago.” The implication is “I tried to fix things, it’s not my fault.” Don’t start by justifying and talking about yourself.
  • Characterizing this as a “restructuring initiative,” and then saying that “We expect that this initiative will result in the reduction of up to 12,000 positions globally.” And the passive “this will be achieved” further runs from responsibility. Look, this is not an “initiative,” it is a decision. The initiative will not “result in” people losing their jobs; Intel’s management will be laying people off.
  • “We are deeply committed to helping our employees through this transition and will do so with the utmost dignity and respect.” Platitudes. I’m sure weasel words like “deeply” and “utmost” are going to make the laid off people feel better.

So, as I did for Twitter and Microsoft, I’ll rewrite this as an honest, bullshit-free communication.

Subject: We didn’t shift fast enough, so now we’re letting 12,000 people go

Intel is in the midst of a huge change. The PC business, where we sell most of our chips, is tanking faster than we thought. The data center and Internet of Things businesses are taking off, but not fast enough to fix the problems with PC chips.

We didn’t transition fast enough. So we need to lay off 12,000 people who are in the parts of Intel that aren’t growing.

We made a mistake. Now I know what “disruption” feels like . . . it feels like thousands of people losing their jobs. If one of them is you, I’m sorry. You worked hard, and this is not your fault. I’ll give you a humane severance package.

The future is clear. We’ll be powering data centers, Internet-connected devices, mobile phones, tablets, stuff like that. And we’re good at it. We just haven’t moved fast enough. Once we dump some of the slower-moving stuff, we’ll be fine, I’m pretty sure.

If you’re at Intel, good luck to you. There are going to be plenty of chips in the future. I hope you get to make some of them.

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  1. Your rewrite reminds me Jan Carlzon presentation — http://www.slideshare.net/thecroaker/jan-carlzons-sas-presentation.

  2. I think that letter is worse than you characterize it. It is with bullshit and is anything but a Naked Conversation. As you note, it is filled with cliche and demonstrates less compassion than a pet rock.

    1. Disagree. This letter is for public consumption, specifically Wall Street. The humanity and responsibility are delivered in BUM meetings that are not subject to being revealed in public–and I can guarantee you that tough words, phrases, responsibility, regret, and even tears appear at these meetings.

  3. I think the message is not as bad as most, AND that it could be greatly improved. Your rewrite has big problems, too. A leadership team can shoulder the blame without signaling panic with phrases such as “tanking faster than we thought.” A “humane severance package” is in the eye of the beholder. I prefer the “utmost dignity and respect” phrase, especially since the real target audience is the remaining employees, who are being asked to soldier forward without feeling survivor guilt.

    1. Correction: would venture to say the people who were walked out does not display “utmost dignity & respect” to employees who have been loyal employees for 20 + & 35 + years with successful reviews. I think it should been done MUCH BETTER. People were humiliated.

  4. I have friends affected by this cut! I retired from Intel several years ago. Intel is/was a great place to work. I enjoyed the 20 years I worked for them and loved my job and most of the people. Intel however hires thousands of PHD Physicist and Chemist who are foreign nationals. It would be interesting to see the demographic of the layoffs. Intel has to sponsor them so I would bet that number is segnificantly less than 12%. In a day and time when jobs are being lost by many Americans here was an opportunity to keep American jobs and cancels a few H1N/H2N visas.

  5. Cuts off are all over the world.. And please stop saying Americans.. Americans are all the people in the continent of America, and the United States of America aren’t polite with “Americans”.. Such as Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica… Many people are losing their jobs.. It was sad to see pretty good friends walked out as criminals… And not blaming anyone else but the bad decision of a company built with the values of the ” greatest country” as they normally say ” Bussines are Bussines” sometimes I wonder if people in USA have any feelings… So all the employees around the world were affected Not only in USA… God bless the continent ” America”

  6. I foe one applause you Sir, for an honest assessment of what is usually very delicate.
    I say delicate, as the above mentioned letter is anything but. On ther other hand, one should not expect blood from a stone and unfortunately the current Intel CEO is not capable of cordial interpersonal etiquette, it’s not in his blood.
    I concur with one of the above commenter and as a former Intel employee must say, Intel was a wonderful company to work in. There was plenty of oportunity, entrepreneurial spirit drove the company and management had a vision.
    Today, the direction appears opportunistic at best and it shows in the knee jerk reactions of the management. Layoffs are a sign of decline, they are likely used to cover ultimately income shortages. In this case, I believe, they are sign of lack of adequate management.
    Natural selection and shedding of unproductive, unnecessary employees is a healthy mode of operations. It assures healthy transfusion and new ideas in the company. Regardless of where the new employees come from, they bring fresh perspective, unless…
    Unfortunately Intel became arrogant with what I call Intel “babies” (individuals not having experience outside of company) gained the helm of the company. The company became conservative, aristocratic in nature, with entitlements for the inner group. The current CEO is the product if years of near dictatorial factory environment, where recrimination was a norm and scapegoating became regular occurrence.
    Any company has two ways to go, the spiral up, leading it to develop, grow and flourish, or a spiral down, where it sheds workforce, lacks solid direction and slowly decays.
    I’ll leave it up to you to decide which path is Intel’s under current management.

  7. You got some of it right, and other parts wrong. Intel wasn’t downsizing. Look at the headcount at start of 2016 and end of 2016 to be published in upcoming annual reports. Intel grew in employee count or at minimum, stayed flat. It was about cherry picking an algorithm that went after older people in high cost geographies, and as 12,000 people were getting fired, 18,000 people were getting hired. At the same time. During the same week. And the EEOC and government do absolutely nothing about it all.