5 Companies That Had A Rough Week


The Week Ending Jan. 25

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is Google, which was hit with the first major fine issued for alleged GDPR violations.

Also making the list this week are Verizon and workers in its Verizon Media business who face layoffs, Oracle for facing escalated accusations of hiring and salary discrimination from the U.S. Department of Labor, PTC for missing deals worth $20 million in the first quarter because of the government shutdown and workforce realignment glitches, and Microsoft for reports of an Office 365 outage.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

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Google Hit With $57 Million Fine For Alleged GDPR Violations

France's data privacy regulator fined Google 50 million euros (about $57 million) this week, charging that the Internet company violated Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the first major GDPR penalty since the regulations went into effect in May 2018.

The data protection watchdog, CNIL, charged that Google lacked transparency and clarity around how it collects personal information and what happens to it. CNIL also charged that Google failed to maintain consent for personalized ads.

The CNIL began investigating Google the day the GDPR went into effect in response to complaints by two non-governmental organizations.

Google said it is committed to meeting the GDPR requirements. The company later said it would appeal the decision.

Verizon Media To Lay Off 7 Percent Of Workforce As Business Unit Struggles To Gain Traction

It was a rough week for Verizon Media and its employees after the telecommunications company said it plans to cut about 7 percent of the business unit's workforce – about 800 jobs.

The Verizon Media business unit, which includes the company's acquired Yahoo and AOL assets, has struggled to gain traction in the digital media and advertising market. In December the company took a $4.6 billion write-down of the business unit's value.

Verizon Media had about 11,400 staffers as of the end of 2018.

U.S. Labor Department Looks To Elevate Discrimination Lawsuit Against Oracle

The Labor Department is escalating accusations of discriminatory hiring practices by Oracle in a legal action that threatens the software company's federal contracts.

This week the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which oversees hiring practices by federal contractors, asked an administrative body this week to accept revisions to its 2017 complaint charging Oracle with discriminating against women and minorities and favoring recruitment of Indian workers who are in the U.S. on visas in an effort to cut costs.

The OFCCP said data it has received since the original complaint strengthen its claims that Oracle discriminated against women and minorities both in hiring and in suppressing starting salaries. The office also said there was evidence that "stark patterns of discrimination" began as early as 2013.

Oracle issued a statement saying that the "meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations" and a flawed process within the OFCCP for determining discrimination, and "fiercely disagree with the spurious claims" from the Labor Department office.

PTC Misses Out On $20 Million In Q1 Deals Due To Government Shutdown, Workforce Realignment

PTC reported this week that nine deals valued at a total of $20 million slipped from the company’s fiscal 2019 first quarter, two because of the partial U.S. government shutdown and the rest because of the company’s workforce realignment plan enacted last October.

President and CEO Jim Heppelmann, on the company’s Q1 earnings call this week, said two deals with U.S. government agencies, worth roughly $2 million, could not be concluded because there was no one available to process them.

But most of the other deals slipped from the quarter because of the workforce realignment: Heppelmann said the company “didn’t get a fast enough start” with the initiative. And one deal, a non-governmental Internet of Things contract valued at $5 million, slipped because of what the CEO called a sales execution issue.

Microsoft Office 365 Outage Reported For Some Users

Microsoft scrambled this week to identify and fix the cause of a problem with its Office 365 email cloud applications that prevented some users from accessing their mailboxes.

The problem, which began around 5 a.m. ET on Thursday, caused connection timeouts for some Office 365 users. The outage appeared to be most widespread in Western Europe, according to the Down Detector website, but was also causing problems for users in parts of the U.S., especially in the Northeast as well as in Florida and other U.S. regions.

Microsoft said the company had determined that a subset of "domain controller infrastructure" was "unresponsive, resulting in the user connection time outs."

But as of Friday, Microsoft had yet to issue an update on its efforts to resolve the problem and some reports of service outages were still coming in.