5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Feb. 28

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include IBM and Ingram Micro, which are cutting their employee rosters; a major business communications company that's losing its channel chief; Google, which experienced an embarrassing snafu with Google Maps this week; and most anyone associated with this week's Mt. Gox Bitcoin debacle.

Avaya's U.S. Channel Chief Exits

Avaya's U.S. channel chief, Karl Soderlund, is stepping down effective March 7 to pursue other opportunities. Soderlund's departure follows a string of shake-ups to the company's channel executive team last year.

Soderlund has served as vice president of Avaya's Americas partner sales since April 2012. A company memo viewed by CRN said the company is actively seeking a replacement.

In July worldwide channel chief John Spiliotis left the company to join Palo Alto Networks, while Tom Mitchell, senior vice president of global sales, resigned in September.

IBM Confirms Layoffs, STG Expected To Take Hardest Hit

IBM confirmed this week that it has begun layoffs throughout the company as part of a $1 billion "workforce rebalancing." While the company isn't saying just how many of its 431,000 employees will get pink slips, industry analysts say headcount reductions would have to reach around 15,000 to achieve $41 billion in savings.

Sources tell CRN that the layoffs would disproportionately impact the company's Systems and Technology Group.

Bitcoin Exchange Collapses, Leaving Behind Questions And Unhappy Investors

The sudden shutdown earlier this week of the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange has raised questions about the future of the virtual currency and left Mt. Gox customers facing the possibility they may never recover their money.

Mt. Gox, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges, suspended withdrawals earlier this month after a series of cyberattacks. On Tuesday the exchange, including its website and Twitter feed, suddenly went dark. Friday Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles acknowledged that some 850,000 bitcoins, worth in the general range of $500 million at current rates, are likely gone for good. He said Mt. Gox was filing for bankruptcy.

The developments have spooked Bitcoin investors and brought calls for tighter regulation of virtual currencies.

Google Maps Identifies Brooklyn Block As 'Drug Section'

Some Brooklyn residents were surprised to learn this week that Google Maps identifies their corner of Brooklyn's Bensonhurst area as a "drug section."

Google Maps identified a block of the neighborhood's West 8th Street as "Drug Section, Brooklyn, NY 11204," according to a story posted on the CBS New York website.

The story said a Reddit user discovered the description while using Google maps to get directions to an area restaurant. The directions advised him to "turn left at the drug section," according to the CBS story. By Thursday night the words "drug section" were no longer printed on the Google map for the area, but a search for "drug section" in Brooklyn still directed users to the corner of West 8th Street and Bay Parkway, the story said.

Ingram Micro Undergoes Another Restructuring, Plans Layoffs

Distributor Ingram Micro is undergoing more reorganization. This week the company disclosed plans for a global corporate restructuring that includes layoffs of some 180 North America employees, just months after the company dissolved its North America Specialty Solutions Division. The company did not provide details on how many employees would be impacted globally.

Paul Bay, Ingram Micro North American president, told CRN the distributor's restructuring activities will help the company reinvest in new areas that provide "success and new opportunities for solution providers."

Solution providers generally praised the moves, saying they would make Ingram Micro more responsive to solution providers. Nevertheless, it's never a good thing when a company has to cut back in order to move forward.