back to article Arm to drop up to 15 percent of staff – about 1,000 people

Chip designer and licensor to the stars, Arm, has reportedly dropped around 1,000 workers onto unemployment queues. An email to staff from Arm CEO Rene Haas, seen and reported by the UK's Daily Telegraph, states: "To stay competitive, we need to remove duplication of work now that we are one Arm; stop work that is no longer …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge

    1,000 people thrown into the bin to satisfy shareholders.... bloody bastards.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      1000 skilled and experienced people taking their talents to help rival companies, startups etc.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        They are not going to layoff their skilled and experienced people, I guess...

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          When I've been in companies where redundancies are being made once the decision is made to make people redundant the last thing on managements mind is trying to keep the valuable ones. Its invariably the valuable ones that are the most troublesome and first on the list.

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

            Same experience. Seen too many large IT companies embark on redundancy programmes which invariably seemed to be more to do with the nebulous "shareholder value" than actual need, especially as they weren't shy of wasting money elsewhere. If they didn't have problems to begin with, the redundancy programmes pretty much ensured they soon would; and my experience is that most of them went under, probably as a direct result: that is of the redundancy programme itself (and the dodgy management ethos behind it) rather than its purported need.

            IMHO any company that goes down this road is screwed. Maybe because of the redundancies themselves, but mostly due to the toxic and clueless management culture that got them there in the first place.

          2. LDS Silver badge
            Facepalm

            That's ARM, not you vanilla legacy company. These companies are successful because they are not silly.

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          “They are not going to layoff their skilled and experienced people, I guess...”

          You would think so. I have no experience at ARM but I have found that such businesses don’t know who their most valuable people are.

          1. pimppetgaeghsr

            If they enforce 15% across all departments there will be no choice for people but to pick even a few talented people to let go. I would have no problem releasing a talented person because in this market they will get hired within a few days in Austin or Cambridge.

            I'd be more worried for the low skilled folk that contribute less than many Graduates with a mortage to pay and unable to pass an equivalent interview at a hardware company. And I feel even worse for their future colleagues should they get hired in this industry again.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Or they know who they are, and see them as a personal threat.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > businesses don’t know who their most valuable people are.

            Got it in one.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "They are not going to layoff their skilled and experienced people"

          Just their more expensive ones - CEO & the like excepted of course. Those wouldn't also be the most skilled and experienced, would they?

          1. hoola Silver badge

            The most expensive that do not have the work "Manager" included in their job titles; i.e, all the technical types that make things happen and are often the most important but undervalued asset.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Even if (IF) you give management benefit of the doubt, and assume it's not their intention to layoff the skilled and experienced, it's a more than fair bet that they'll get some of them anyway.

          Layoffs nearly always turn into some sort of twisted numbers game, and whether it happens via politics, bureaucratic bungling, or even random chance, some good folks inevitably end up in the bin with the useless and layabouts.

          On top of that, a cynical person might figure that if it's true that management is trying to lower the company valuation in advance of future IPO, perhaps a quick way of doing that is dumping the most expensive people, some of which (assuming ARM is any sort of meritocracy) are likely to be talented and experienced veterans.

      2. pimppetgaeghsr

        1000 Skilled is optimistic even by ARM standards.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      I've been made redundant twice. Dodged the 3rd one by leaving before the company went bust.

      It's an unpleasant experience but with hindsight, has always worked out for the best.

      Most of these people are highly skilled and will have no problems finding another job. The ones without useful skills can always work in the public sector.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        I've also been made redundant twice - first time when I was going to resign (Result!), second not so much fun. Both times where when the market for jobs was shit. Fortunately neither time was I forced into finding another job quickly, which, even with useful skills can be a bloody painful and stressful time. The first time I got made redundant the only options were to work abroad to use my skills, something I really didnt fancy as pretty much any post would have been a step down! The second time I'd branched into IT but it would still have involved moving around the UK at the least, and the expense of moving house would have been horrendous. I have been incredibly lucky in that twice I've moved and had difficulty selling the old house but managed to rent it to friends (at a considerable discount from market rates) and as such have made more money from property than I've earned. I doubt anyone being made redundant now will have anything like the opportunities we had, and many will probably be legally blocked from using a lot of their accumulated knowledge!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "many will probably be legally blocked from using a lot of their accumulated knowledge"

          Would that really be the case? I'd have thought it would be difficult to argue that the knowledge you've just declared redundant is valuable. At the very least it would be ammunition in an employment tribunal and would likely earn a bigger payout.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            The IP is protected but your skills are yours to use as freely as you wish.

            1. pimppetgaeghsr

              When the General Counsel sends threatening letters to those leaving for competitors you would think ARM had a patent on digital logic.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                If they've been made redundant the present tense doesn't apply: they've left and it wasn't their decision hence going to competitors wasn't their purpose. If the former employer then starts to throw their weight around they're just making a case to be taken to an employment tribunal and subsequently to the cleaners. However I suspect your use of the term "General Counsel" means you're from parts where there might be less protection for the victims.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. NeilPost Silver badge

                  … and unenforceable non-compete agreements.

              2. fg_swe

                Secrecy ?

                You never tell your former employer where you go. Dont expose your employment history in LinkedIN.

                Or if they ask, tell them you will go to work for a totally different industry.

                Stop being a sheep.

                1. pimppetgaeghsr

                  Re: Secrecy ?

                  And if you apply back again for a more senior role in 5-10 years? What do you put on the CV. Not a lot of chip design companies left and word spreads fast. At best you get paid your notice and don't have to work for a few weeks/months/

                  1. fg_swe

                    Re: Secrecy ?

                    Such petty matters are forgotten in 10 years time. Again, grow a pair.

                    And if you cant find a job in circuits, switch the track to another industry. Whoever can read a requirements spec, has some basic physics understanding and can program in C should currently join automotive control units development*. Also, you can always join banking if you have serious scientifc skills.

                    *check the openings in the land of petrol carriage. Qwant.com will do the searching.

                    1. pimppetgaeghsr

                      Re: Secrecy ?

                      ok boomer

  2. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

    So they've appointed someone who's come in raring to go with the innovative and original idea of slashing the workforce to cut costs and blindly believing that this will increase profits long term, because there is no way on Earth that he will have been able to come in and gain a full and deep understanding of their technology, skill base, future potential and strategic thinking in the space of 4 weeks.

    One thing's for certain, nobody asked him the question "how do you intend to prevent us going the same way as IBM" at the job interview.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

      It depends on his view of long term. That might be until the IPO is done and dusted and it's time to collect bonuses and go to improve the profitability of another unfortunate company.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

      Rene has been at Arm for some time now and certainly isn't coming into things blindly. Bear in mind Arm has been hiring like crazy for the last few years to meet a questionable line in the sand set by Softbank to double their staff numbers. I suspect many of those hires have been completed just to meet the numbers rather than because they have found the best person for the job.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

        So you're saying it can be de-Softbanked with no harm done?

        1. pimppetgaeghsr

          Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

          Yes, but the China JV has all the IP, if the big foundries accept the reality that it is it's own separate entity ARM won't be expanding in that market.

    3. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

      Haas has been at ARM 7/8 years.

      He's a salesman at heart, so watch this company go the way of IBM or Intel over the next few years whilst they keep an eye on costs.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

        "He's a salesman at heart,"

        That explains a lot. They usually have a disconnect between what they sell and what's available to be sold.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Haas, who has been in the chief exec's chair for about a month

      Hass is fresh in the role but has been with Arm for about 9 years. He was picked by the former CEO to replace him (with agreement from Softbank). He knows the business as well as anyone at Arm.

      Having said that, Arm's true value lies in the skills of its people and their potential to add even more value to the company moving forward - not what's on the balance sheet today (which is already nicely in the black).

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I suppose Arm's loss will be RISC-V's gain.

    1. Abominator

      Pretty much.

      Of course Risc V designs themselves are also licensed and not yet up to snuff with ARM performance. While the ISA is not.

      If you bleed staff, obvious thing to do would be to start a Risc V company next door.

      The ARM ISA in the grand scheme of things is pretty cheap to licence, but when ARM is run by muppets I would look elsewhere too.

  4. Abominator

    ARM is run like a slow motion train wreck.

    First the failure of corporate governance in China which they should never have opened.

    Now they are actively firing staff in a semiconductor bull market.

    Fucking morons.

    1. pimppetgaeghsr

      I disagree, it seemed like quite a fast trainwreck at times.

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

    "stop work that is no longer critical to our future success"

    I often wonder exactly what these people mean with phrases like that. Is the person who cleans the bog "critical" to the future of the company? What if you get rid of that person? Do people then want to work in a shit-hole (because few people will clean up the mess themselves after shitting in the bog). If you remove anyone and anything not "critical to our future success", then what might be left? There's much work that is useful to "future success" but not actually "critical". I think it's just management-speak to make them sound tough and in control because clearly "critical" doesn't often mean what the speaker thinks it means.

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      It'll be the usual routine;

      - "We're getting rid of staff to make us more efficient"

      - "No we haven't identified the tasks we're no longer going to do. Therefore we can't identify the staff who we no longer need."

      - Or the supposed efficiencies which are then going to magically happen."

      - "Ok so we'll just lay off enough random bodies to hit the target numbers and hope for the best".

    2. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      Most of HR can disappear without much tears shed. IT was also abysmal but whether that is due to talent or lack of investment who knows, I recall most of it being outsourced anyway. The entire Lines of Business are just redundant and hampering the work of tech leads too, but since they are Rene's brainchild I wonder if they actually make a good decision here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      > stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      I'm not sure that you bog cleaner analogy is particularly helpful here. :-)

      Much more important is whether that phrase includes R&D work. It sort of implies: well, we've done a great job getting to point where we can sell off and reap the profits but the future looks a bit tricky what with Apple upping the game and Intel chasing them hard, so we're giving up.

      1. fg_swe

        Advocatus Diaboli

        Companies of more than 20 people usually have several projects ongoing. Some of which are successful and some which are not. In some circumstances it COULD make sense to close down the less than stellar projects.

        Having said that, it also COULD make sense to retain good people and move them to the stellar projects, emulating the HP Way.

        The fortunes of business (and other spheres ?) are unpredictable and sometimes the best thing you can do is pray.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      "What if you get rid of that person?"

      You have a problem with the next HSE inspection.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: stop work that is no longer critical to our future success

      Quite. Notice also that they rarely get rid of the big wheels who originally approved the now-not-critical work in the first place.

  6. pimppetgaeghsr

    ARM=IBM

    ARM is now a US corporation akin to IBM and this was apparent a few years ago. Lots of managers came along with this Softbank hiring quota and very few engineers in comparison, and if there were plenty of engineers many weren't up to producing much. Most talented folks have long left for FAANG companies. After the selloff many employees got 6 or 7 figures and just started counting the days to retirement or locked themselves away in some safe spot with their years of accumulated knowledge. It was very telling when the best and brightest just started getting quieter as the US corporate culture started taking over. The most visible example would be being unable to define what ISA a product is going to deploy halfway through a project then telling the engineers to deliver it a year earlier anyway.

    It's all relative what "talented" means in ARM these days, being gullible and a yes man has provided many promotions in the past few years to people who wouldn't have been even taken to interview 10-15 years ago when the company hit its peak. I've seen projects float around for months with no oversight or decision making because nobody really knows who is actually in charge whilst engineers get micromanaged down to the hour by layovers from Siemens/IBM and other failed UK semiconductor companies that never competed globally. Plenty of status meetings and planning meetings though, so everyone looks like a busy-bee yet nothing actually gets produced.

    1. fg_swe

      HP

      Once upon a time, there was a glorious Imperium called HP. The sun never set on them while they made advanced things from atomic clocks to patient monitors to processors to printers to matchbox sized harddrives. In the 1990s they had the vision of a mobile phone very much like the current smartfone. And a vision of cloud computing very much like AWS. They had touch screens in the 1980s.

      In the 1990s the founders died after a very long and great life.

      Then swooped in the MBAs and quickly found out that they could not run the Empire. Too complex for an MBA without serious R&D, production and sales experience. So they chopped it up into pieces. The pieces chopped themselves up.

      What can we learn ? All great things come to an end one day.

      If you are an employee of such an Empire, just move on to another place. Find a great hobby of your own. Focus on your family.

      1. pimppetgaeghsr

        Re: HP

        Lots of MBAs moved into ARM for sure the past 5 years. IoT, Automotive, Cloud. Lots of shiny CVs and roles like VP/Director but very little produced for what the living they were stealing.

      2. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: HP

        I remember HP South Queensferry (Scotland), Motorola Semiconductor East Inch and Dunfermline (formerly Hyundai), IBM Greenock, Compaq Greenock, Timex Dundee (Sinclair Spectrum)… and all of the rest of Scotland’s Silicon Glen … all closed down to ship manufacturing off to SE Asia.

        The irony is bitter now there is post pandemic talks of supply-chain security on-shoring.

        1. pimppetgaeghsr

          Re: HP

          You've got the corporate boomers to thank for that. Ship everything off east and then wonder why your kids and grandkids can't get a job or afford a house.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            DJT

            A certain Mr Trump tried to stop the Move To China.

            He was demonized for that effort.

            Patriotism is evil, we are told.

            Bankers rule and the rest better shut up.

            Anon for reasons.

            1. pimppetgaeghsr

              Re: DJT

              Make Arm Great Again?

  7. mrGecko

    But would the same have happened had the merger gone through?

    If ARM are cutting 1,000 jobs without the merger, would Nvidia have planned to cut a similar (or larger?) number of jobs if the merger had completed?

    I'm sorry to say it might just be that such a job cut was always on the cards. Perhaps the ARM board where just holding out, hoping Nvidia would get the blame instead of themselves.

    1. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: But would the same have happened had the merger gone through?

      Jensen had promised "no layoffs, none" in his first discussion with all ARM employees, so based on what I know about US corporate culture that means, "yes, a significant amount"

  8. Unite Cambridge Engineering branch

    Meeting for Arm workers - know your redundancy rights

    If anyone is interested Unite LE/7355E Cambridge Engineering Branch which is recruiting and organising workers at Arm in the UK is hosting a meeting tommorow 16 March at 1830 to advise members and supporters of their redundancy rights in law and to discuss what can be done to stop these redundancies. If anyone working at Arm is interested in attending please drop me a message and I'll share the meeting link.

    1. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: Meeting for Arm workers - know your redundancy rights

      Strongly recommend this. Don't sign anything no matter how threatening they sound.

      1. Unite Cambridge Engineering branch

        Re: Meeting for Arm workers - know your redundancy rights

        if you contact us via our facebook page we can share the details https://www.facebook.com/UniteatArm/

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Junglaunch

    I feared this would happen - avoid becoming a meal for the Lion but end up getting nipped to death by Jackals instead.

    1. pimppetgaeghsr

      Re: Junglaunch

      "This is a nice Jacuzzi", said the Frog.

  10. pimppetgaeghsr

    Something missing from this article that other sites are reporting in the past 2 days is that this will primarily not affect Engineering. All those companies hoping for a stream of CPU/GPU architects applying seem to be going up in smoke now that the NVIDIA deal is crashed. With an 8% pay rise too whomever you hire you had better be prepared to keep up with inflation rather than trying to commoditise engineers that are in hot demand.

    It would be easy to find 1000 redundant people in ARM but when ring-fencing 70% (Central Engineering) of your workforce from it that is going to be tough. I guess the party is over for the paper pushers where entire teams of G5s are doing the work of 1 person. Such folk would have lots of fun casual meetings in the atrium cackling at how much you are being paid. Hope you all at least learned some transferrable skills.

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