Shopify, others recruit IT workers laid off by IBM

IBM Canada is still staying largely silent two days after reports that it is laying off staff across North America.

Early reports said that the technology giant is likely to cut anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 jobs globally. According to an IBM employee group named Alliance@IBM, the layoffs notices have passed 2,000. The biggest area that was cut was in Software Group Marketing, where more than 200 people lost their jobs this week. The least impacted area was BT/IT CIO Enterprise Transformation, where only four people were let go.

Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 said it’s an IBM employee organization that is dedicated to preserving and improving rights and benefits at IBM. The group is based in Johnson City, N.Y.

Some of those being let go at the company’s Ottawa facilities could take heart that local firms are ready to hire them.

For instance, online shopping startup Shopify Inc. lost no time in setting up a makeshift hiring booth on the sidewalk along Riverside Drive just a few metres from IBM’s front gate.

The Ottawa Citizen reported that some people manning the booth were seen flagging passersby asking them if they would be interested in working with Shopify. The scene was “reminiscent of the boom days of the Ottawa technology scene,” according the newspaper.


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Shopify employs 200 people at its downtown Ottawa office and plans to hire 250 more by the end of the year as part of an expansion brought about a new round of investment and the growing online retail services market. For now, the company is looking to hire 50 people but is “not going to turn away talent,” said Harley Finkelstein, the company’s chief platform officer.

Other startups in the area are also scouting for IT talent.

Among those hiring are QNX Software Systems Inc., a division of BlackBerry; SavvyDox, a mobile documents management firm; Fuel Industries, a digital agency and entertainment studio; Magmic Inc., a mobile social games publisher; and Playbrains, another digital game publisher.

IBM is said to have a global workforce of 434,000. However, online business news publication reported that the company is undergoing a restructuring plan which involves cutting costs by as much as $1 billion.

IBM has remained silent on the topic.
“Given the competitive nature of our business, we don’t publicly discuss details of our staffing plans,” said Carrie Bendzsa, IBM Canada’s communications manager. “IBM is constantly rebalancing its workforce across the board, and that means reducing in some areas and hiring in others based on system, technology and client demand.”
She said that process allows IBM “to remain competitive in relevant in an industry that’s constantly changing.”
She would not comment on how many Canadian staff or which divisions are affected.
The last time IBM made cuts this severe globally and to Canada was back in 2009, when it axed 16,000 workers.
This round of layoffs comes on the heels of IBM announcing new initiatives to further support and speed up the adoption of the Linux operating system across the enterprise. These include two new Power Systems Linux Centers and plans to extend support for Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) technology to its Power Systems portfolio of server products.

Big Blue also made enhancements across its systems portfolio that is designed to help organizations adopt cloud computing as they build toward Software Defined Environments (SDE).

(With notes from Howard Solomon and Paolo Del Nibletto)


Read the Ottawa Citizen story here

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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