SAS Vows No Layoffs In 2009

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"We've made a commitment not to lay off anyone this year," said CEO Jim Goodnight, speaking Monday at the SAS Global Forum, the company's user and partner conference, at the National Harbor complex outside Washington, D.C. "Somebody's got to look out for the workers."

But before you send SAS a resume, Goodnight noted that he has discouraged company managers from hiring new employees and the company's head count so far this year is up less than 1 percent.

Goodnight's comments came as he demonstrated the business intelligence dashboard he uses to run the company. The dashboard includes statistics on the company's employee head count.

With 2008 sales of $2.26 billion, SAS is the largest privately held company in the software industry. That means SAS doesn't come under the same pressure to reduce costs and maintain high profits that publicly traded companies do, Goodnight noted. "Being a private company, we can make that decision," he said.

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Most CEOs, Goodnight said, get rewarded for keeping costs down and stock prices high. During the 2001 recession SAS gained attention for hiring top talent that other companies had laid off. "If we were a public company I would probably be fired for this stance," he said.

And the CEO took the opportunity to rip Wall Street for its relentless focus on the bottom line. "What the hell does Wall Street know? Look what they did to their own companies," he said.