HP confirms job cuts will hit research labs
Not just factories closing
HP has confirmed that yesterday's announcement of UK job cuts will not just hit its manufacturing plant in Scotland, but also HP's research laboratories in Bristol.
The firm will not detail exactly what is happening, but emails from Register readers suggest as many as half its Bristol research staff could be laid off.
A Reg reader told us: "According to various sources and friends, HP has at a single stroke on Thursday HALVED their R&D people based in Bristol, UK on Thursday. 3 entire labs are to be axed. Approx 70 or so positions are to be eliminated - with completion towards the end of this year."
Another email read:
HP has also slashed its five remaining laboratories in Bristol (HP Labs) to two as well as closing all of its Japanese research. US and Israeli sites seem to have come off almost unscathed so this looks as though the company is retrenching to the US. Speculative research is out with teams such as HP's semantic web group up and offing.
With only two labs left in Bristol - a very well respected security group and a 'cloudy-web-x.0' thing - and look how much use HP puts that type of thing too - one wonders how long HP Labs Europe has to live? Bill and Dave would spin in their graves (and of course it is interesting to speculate whether they would need to contra rotate to maintain some semblance of stability.
HP announced yesterday it was cutting 5,700 jobs in Europe with some 700 to go in the UK. But the focus was on its manufacturing plant in Scotland where, we were told, products had become increasingly commoditised and the sites were under-used.
Given the current economic climate and continued pressure on costs it seemed reasonable that manufacturing work was going to the Czech Republic.
But cutting back HP's famous research sites will be more controversial.
HP said: "HP Labs is streamlining its research portfolio to further sharpen its focus on creating a pipeline of high-impact innovation with a clear path to market that addresses the most important customer challenges. HP is committed to bringing breakthrough innovation to market quickly, and HP Labs will continue to play a significant role in this effort."
A spokesman for HP Labs told us: "This is not about retrenching to the US. It is the result of a review of the work of HP Labs which decided we should focus more on research with a more direct route to market. So the two remaining labs will focus on security and adapative infrastructures or cloud computing. But there will still be more exploratory research going in Palo Alto and elsewhere."®
HPL is simply broken - let's admit it
I'm a researcher at (the newest of) HP Labs Russia, and was shocked to hear this news. I've been working here since 2008, and after 1+ year with HP Labs, what I have to say about it is that this organization is currently completely broken from top to bottom. The management is out of touch with reality and has poor understanding of what and how should be done.
A couple of days ago we were honoured by a video conversation with Prith, the first time I had a chance to see him not on a photo. The whole purpose of the conversation remains a mystery to me, probably it was done to reassure that our jobs (at HP Labs Russia) are safe... until the end of the year ("I can't predict the future...nobody can.."). In this conversation, Prith stressed how important is to work on things that will come into 'next billion dollar products' and 'truly advance the state of the art'.
Now, I've to admit that at this point of time I don't have a vision for a billion dollar product. Nor do I believe I should have - IMO it's not researchers who should be looking into market opportunities and transform market needs into technical tasks. And if I had, HP would not be the first company in the queue I shared my vision with. So I have an impression that what we're trying to do here at HPL Russia is not in line with Prith's strategy, and it will take a couple of bleak quaterly reports to slash us like HPL Bristol.
Sorry for a long story... time to finish. For me at HPL, this was a year that was full of engagements with potential customers (outside HP), all of which have failed. A lot of effort was wasted into writing the project proposal to fit the lab into Prith's "new HP Labs" system. Since the proposal has been accepted, our goals have changed (they weren't very clear from the start), and the current research is largely out of sync with the proposal. Who on Earth does need the proposal system then? In my opinion, the entire Prith's system is not working, and only puts extra burden on researchers.
Feeling sad for HPL Bristol guys...hopefully finding a new job will not be so big a problem. From your story, I personally can only make conclusions that confirm my feelings about HPL and am going to leave the company soon. Before Mark's & Prith's cost-cutting initiatives will make me to do that ;-)
Glen - be fair - Dick actually achieved stuff as a technologist and as a manager. Prith got both wrong. He never appears to be a 'pure academic' - I think some ability is required to do that.
Fordward thinking is needed
Lots of bright people + the spur of redundancy = Innovation
Painful for those involved, no help whatever to HP (but which one of them will care about that), but in the medium to long term beneficial.
Substitute the phrase bean counters for my customers.....
"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse" - Henry Ford