THE BLOODLETTING got under way this week at the former Pac-Med hospital on Beacon Hill, also known as the headquarters of Amazon.com. Bezos' minions have been bracing for big layoffs since Christmas, and they got what they were waiting for on Tuesday.
Along with its fourth quarter financial results, Amazon announced a 15 percent staff cut, including the closure of a customer service center in Seattle (take that, union-loving troublemakers), closure of its Seattle distribution facility in Georgetown (except for Christmastime), and other cuts in corporate staff that were still unspecified at press time. Eliminating all that costly overhead will help to make the company with the smiley-face logo profitable by this time next year, say the top brass. However, 1,300 people won't be around to celebrate. Bezos says he's setting aside a little stock fund to give them a stake in the company's future.
The perpetually sunny Amazon disposition may be the biggest casualty. Can it be a coincidence that Amazon's home page this week was hyping its health and beauty aids with the (not exactly original) slogan "Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so live life to the fullest!"? Hey, you may be unemployed and out on the street, but that's no reason to have clogged pores.
Meanwhile, over on the seamier side of the Net, the news was even worse. Seattle-based Flying Crocodile Inc., once poised to build an Internet porn empire, announced last week that it would lay off dozens of staff, empty out its offices above the Icon Grill on Fifth Avenue, and put itself up for sale. FCI leader Andy Edmond and his flagship software product Sex Tracker were the subject of a recent cover story ("Porn to win," SW, 8/17/2000).
The story quoted one insider saying, "Even now Edmond's company is struggling to pay its bills," though Edmond denied it. Soon enough his landlord was suing for unpaid rent, calling up echoes of Seattle's other loudmouth Internet porn purveyor, the alleged repeat-deadbeat Seth Warshavsky. Edmond, who had plenty of enemies in the porn world, soon took to the Webmaster message boards, where he was last heard accusing one of his detractors of having an ugly girlfriend. Those porn kids—when will they grow up?