The buzz in the tech community is that Big Blue has a big layoff moving coming down the pipe following its recent disappointing earnings report.
Insiders say this layoff could be bigger than IBM's typical spring jobs cut. In fact, it supposedly has its own secret project code name - Project Mercury. If accurate, I wonder if that means fast response to the falling sales and earnings?
If the expected layoff happens on May 28 to May 30, I am also very interested in talking to any of the victims who are willing to talk. It is so hard to track this kind of thing amid such an obessive culture of secrecy.
Not surprisingly, the agressively quiet IBM isn't saying anything. The buzz among the cubes in the formerly nicknamed Fortress Rochester is that this impending ax could chop up to 25 percent of the remaining staff here in the Med City.
Of course, a percentage doesn't mean much since no one (outside of the inner circle of IBM big wigs) has any clue how people work on the Rochester campus these days.
I once asked IBM's top Minnesota exec Walt Ling that question directly, "How many people work here in Rochester? It seems like the numbers keep going down."
He turned his chair to look out over the parking lot and gestured broadly, "Just look at all of the cars in the parking lot. I'd say we're doing pretty well."
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the communications staffer tense up like they were about to go into convulsions.
For many years during very tough times in the tech industry, IBM used to announce its Rochester "population" or body count at the end of every year.
The last instance of that was on Dec. 31, 2008. On that day, IBM said it had 4,200 official Big Blue employees in Rochester. That means it didn't include contract workers like ones from CTG, Manpower or whatever.
Despite very active adjustment of staffing to meet the market needs, the number of Big Blue workers on Rochester stayed at the exactly same level – 4,400 from 2004 to 2007. Back then, that seemed amazingly consistent to me.
In 2003, IBM said it had 4,500 employees in Rochester. In 2002, it was 4,600 and the number IBM reported in 2000 was 5,000.