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As Twitter hires, HP fires

Trends in tech hiring aren't always what they seem

January 2, 2014 03:52 PM ET

Computerworld - With the attention given to Twitter's IPO, one might assume that the tech industry is dependent on its success. It isn't. Not even close.

For sure, Twitter's initial public offering in November made some people awfully rich -- the social networking company's market capitalization now ranges near $35 billion and its shares trade at around $65 apiece, more than double the share price of Hewlett-Packard stock.

At best, though, Twitter is likely to remain a mid-sized employer unless it buys a television network with its eventual cash.

Twitter, according to its IPO filing, has about 2,000 employees, and a long list of job openings. Perhaps, in time, it may equal Facebook's current workforce of 5,800.

As HP cuts, who is hiring?

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Apple N/A 32,000 N/A 46,600 N/A N/A 80,300
Facebook N/A N/A N/A N/A 2,958 4,331 5,794
Google 15,916 N/A N/A N/A 31,353 55,546 46,421
Hewlett-Packard 172,000 321,000 304,000 324,600 349,600 331,800 317,500
Microsoft N/A N/A N/A 89,000 N/A N/A 99,000
Salesforce N/A N/A N/A 3,969 N/A N/A 9,800
Twitter N/A N/A N/A 200 N/A N/A 2,000
Headcount data is from annual reports and represent global headcounts, unless otherwise noted. Few tech firms breakout domestic versus hiring overseas.

Apple data does not include 3,100 full-time equivalent workers in 2008, 2,800 in 2010 and 4,100 in 2013. About 42,800 of Apple 2013 employees work in the company's Retail segment. Google 2012 figures include 12,433 from Motorola Mobile and 4,995 from Motorola Home. Google Sold Motorola Home in 2012, reducing its overall headcount. HP 2008 figures include its EDS acquisition. Microsoft data includes 35,000 international in 2010 and 41,000 international in 2013. N/A added for sake of brevity.

The point of showing the Twitter and Facebook employment numbers is to create scale for HP's just announced layoff of 5,000 workers. Relative to HP's total workforce of 317,000, the cut amounts to just 1.5%, but compared to the amount of hiring now underway at Web-based firms, it's a significant hit to tech employment overall.

The question now for HP is whether it can can adapt to overcome slowdowns in the PC, server and printer businesses and resume its revenue growth. If it succeeds at that, HP could add jobs by the thousands and at a speed that would take a Web-based firm years to achieve. On the other hand, it could also shed jobs by the thousands if it fails.

This latest HP layoff plan, detailed in a Security Exchange Commission filing last week, is on top of 29,000 job cuts previously announced by HP CEO Meg Whitman. HP doesn't breakout hiring/firing by region, so it's not known how many U.S. workers are affected.

HP's importance to employment goes well beyond its own payroll.

There are thousands of HP-related jobs at resellers, consulting and professional services firms. Many IT professionals have invested careers in HP-specific technologies certifications and training, and HP systems can be found in most Fortune 1000 firms.



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