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LJ Staff Cuts

I'm sure the news is spreading fast, but so far I've only seen it through posts from the UK SF community. LJ has just laid off part of its staff - possibly 13, possibly 20 of its 28 employees. Financially, it's not really surprising - LJ was bought for a hugely inflated price and with the global credit shrinkage, it's not worth much. It never really was worth as much as was paid for it. Frankly, it could have weathered the financial situation more securely if it hadn't been valued so highly in the first place.

In the years I've been using LJ, this is the most threatened it has ever looked to me. It's not going to be closed yet - perhaps never, depending on what happens - but, just as a preventative measure - it's worth backing up your data now. Just in case.

I truly hope it doesn't go away though. Our social networks would scatter among other sites. FB* is the only other one I regularly use, but it's no substitute for our extended prose and picture interactions here. Even if it did, however, its influence will be long-lasting, from all the open-source software it developed, its creation and championing of OpenID, and the large, robust communities it created, and individual social interactions it enabled. No obituaries yet though - this is a large warning flag, not The End.

Edited to add: No real additional news, but another news article on the subject, this one from Marketing Vox.

Further: More confirmation of 13/28 laid off in the US, plus a couple more in Russia, but that still means the company retains the better part of 50 staff members in Russia, plus 2/3 of their US staff. Another article, from paidContent, saying that the layoffs are part of a move to focus the company in its Moscow HQ. In which case, it really is just a restructuring move, not a more worrying sign.

Further yet: Ah, the PaidContent article is apparently regurgitating a press release from LJ. (That's good! They're doing PR!) Mashable quotes the press release, but is still cynical.

* If for some reason you wanted to stay in touch that way, my full name is available through the "about" link in the sidebar on my LJ. If you don't think I know you by name, please include your username when making friends requests there!

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
alysonwonderlan
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Oh no!
I don't know what I would do without my LJ. I keep in touch with WAY too many people this way. I've reconnected with so many this way too! You're so right about "social networks scattering". I'm flummoxed.
taldragon
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh no!
me too. i suppose we could move (en masse) onto another blogging site, but i'm rather attached to this one :/
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh no!
Part of the problem is that currently there is no guarantee that we NEED to move to another site. These are troubled waters, but that doesn't mean it's the end. On the other hand, the downside to being complacent about it is the risk of losing such easy social interaction.

Edited at 2009-01-06 02:42 pm (UTC)
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh no!
Hopefully it won't really be going away; but laying off the developers is not a good sign in terms of long-term sustainability.
forthright
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
I've thought about this problem (which was really an inevitability - no one thought it would last *forever*, did they?) quite a bit over the past couple of years.

My biggest fear is a sudden blackout: one day, LJ just shuts everything down. I'm backed up (weekly to biweekly, right now), but the network, the community, is immediately destroyed. Facebook is nifty, but like you say, it's no LJ, and I don't even know the real names of a number of people on my flist.

If we have even a month's notice, things are very different - we can coordinate. Still a nightmare, but a very different kind of nightmare.
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
LJ is 2 months shy of its 10 year birthday. That's REALLY good going for a website.

Even with a month's notice, there'll be a certain amount of splintering without one other obvious site to go to - but it sure will help in terms of maintaining group continuity.
forthright
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, the splintering will be an issue, but it is at least an issue we can discuss and negotiate. I'm not worried about being findable as an individual (I'm everywhere, and under my real name in many places) but those groups are so fragile. I need to think about this some more, clearly.

And I should say, although I don't see anyone in my circle doing this, that this is not the time to panic or 'cut and run', especially if the rumours of the extent of the layoffs prove to be false. LJ does not need a huge staff to remain profitable, as long as the paid user base remains large. I am presuming that the recent permanent account sale brought in a significant cash infusion, for instance.

Edited at 2009-01-06 04:34 pm (UTC)
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
Exactly, even if the permanent account sale couldn't possibly have generated anything on the scale for which the company was bought last year.

Your comment on LJ not needing a huge staff is particularly true given how much it is still dependent on volunteer labor. Volunteers don't mitigate the need for certain critical staff, but it does give it some flexibility. I do hope LJ itself puts up a news item about this sometime soon. It never was best with PR.
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-livejournal-lays-off-majority-of-us-staff-will-operate-from-moscow/

More news: layoffs were part of a restructuring to focus the company on its Moscow HQ. Article content is apparently recycling a press release not current available on LJ's own site.

Edited at 2009-01-06 05:19 pm (UTC)
rozallin
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
I was surprised that the news isn't all over the place by now. I posted about it to Twitter and everyone started re-tweeting me!

Where'd you hear that it was 13? I've heard that it's less than 20, but the source didn't want to say too much.

I think the main problem is that LiveJournal isn't a social networking site or a blogging service, but Six Apart and now SUP have tried to run it as one or the other. I'll be backing up my journal, but as you say it's not quite time (thankfully), for the obituary yet.
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
From the rumor mill - here's the post: http://nhw.livejournal.com/1149578.html
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
Another source suggesting 13, but all rumor at this point:
http://community.livejournal.com/no_lj_ads/83519.html
pfy
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
I likewise hope that this isn't the beginning of the end.

However, I'm commenting mostly to say that I read the title of your post and thought, "Is there anything people won't write creepy fanfic about?"
owlfish
Jan. 6th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
I went for alliteration, you went for the obvious interpretation given the medium... Hmm. No.

Edited to add: Am now disturbed enough to change the post title.

Edited at 2009-01-06 04:46 pm (UTC)
pfy
Jan. 6th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
Um. Oops. *passes you the brain bleach*
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )