September 6, 2006
THE AX FALLS IN THE VALLEY: COPING
THOUSANDS ALREADY CUT FROM HP ADJUST TO LOSING HP WAY OF LIFE
By Nicole C. Wong
San Jose Mercury News
If everyone laid off by Hewlett-Packard moved to the same city this autumn, they would fill all the houses and apartments in Cupertino – and 2,600 people would still need homes.
Welcome to ex-HPville: population 53,100.
These days, tech companies keep chiseling away at their workforces. The latest layoffs are coming from Intel, which announced Tuesday that it is axing 10,500 jobs.
But over the past 6½ years, HP – the company once renowned for providing lifelong employment – has laid off more workers worldwide than any other Silicon Valley company. In the process, HP has created a virtual community that illuminates the social upheaval the unemployed wrestle with as companies race to reinvent themselves in the global economy.
Like many cities, ex-HPville is diverse. It’s filled with 60-year-old grandparents as well as single 30-somethings. The place has attracted an administrative assistant from Mountain View, a computer supplies salesman from Paris, and an information technology manager from Dublin, Ireland.
Yet uniting these former colleagues, who were flung together by ill fate, is their desire to focus on the future – something more difficult than many expect because their identities are so wrapped up in their HP pasts.
“HP was the company to work for in the valley,” said Patti Wilson, a high-tech career counselor who over the past 20 years noticed her laid-off HP clients had more trouble than most giving up their dreams of getting rehired at the company that had just given them the boot.
“No one wanted to let go,” Wilson said.
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